Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Christchurch Priory (Christchurch)

Christchurch Priory is now the parish church of the old town of Christchurch in Dorset.

It is, at 300 feet, the longest parish church in England, and without a doubt has the proportions of a cathedral. The tower contains the two oldest bells in the country, which date from 1370.

The name stems from miraculous events said to have occurred while the priory was being constructed in 1094. Building materials were continually being moved at night to a different site, and this was regarded as being due to Christ's personal intervention. So the priory, and subsequently the town, were renamed Christchurch.

At the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the priory was transferred to the town, to be the parish church.

Much of the building is Norman, but there is some Perpendicular, including the Lady Chapel, which was once used as a Grammar School and is now a museum.

The stone reredos is of the 14th century, and depicts the Tree of Jesse, and there are some very fine misericords.

The Salisbury Chapel was built for Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, in 1529. She was owner of the local manor, and was executed on the orders of Henry VIII, as a punishment for her son's outspoken religious views.

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