Title: Lesser Known Christchurch
Author: Steve Roberts
RRP: £11.99
Sale Price: £9.99
Publication date: 30 July 2015
Format: 234 x 156 mm
Number of pages: 160 pp
ISBN: 9781906651-268
Illustrations: 250
Maps: 9

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A contemporary look at Christchurch, highlighting the local people and places that make the town special

Rather like having your own personal guide, this book offers a close-up view of Christchurch – past and present. Packed with surprising facts and stories, and interviews with local people, it will inspire you to explore the town and show you what many visitors and even residents often miss. With walks suitable for all ages, use it to explore the historic old town, the rivers and Town Quay, the olde-world neighbourhood of Mudeford, and out of the way places in Highcliffe.

Local people ... Which furniture designer left his mark at Red House Museum?
Local interest ... What bygone industries are associated with the town?
Local names ... How did Steamer Point get its name?
Intrigue... Why is there a beautiful but empty chantry in the Priory?
Nature ... Where are the 142 ha of ‘Commons’ to be found?
Literary connections ... What were Samuel Coleridge and Sir Walter Scott doing in Christchurch?
Local history ... How is the famous Bailey Bridge associated with the town?



This book is part of a series of Lesser Known guides published by Roving Press that look at Dorset towns. I was thrilled to be asked to write this particular book, as I live in Christchurch and love the place. What could be better than writing about the town you love? Having said that, I have tried to include the whole borough, as there is more to Christchurch than simply the historic town centre.
     Christchurch is a place with many hidden treasures, nuggets of history and things to be discovered. It is a sad truism that we often overlook what is on our doorstep, so this book will appeal to residents who would like to know more about their town, and visitors. As well as descriptions of places, people and events that make Christchurch special, there are contributions from people who live and work here.
      There are also six walks to help you explore for yourself.


A Brief History
The Rivers and Town Quay
   River Avon
   River Stour
   Town Quay
   The Quomps and Mayors Mead
Harbour and Seafront
   Christchurch Harbour
   Mudeford Quay
   Gundimore Promenade and Avon Beach
   Friars Cliff and Steamer Point
Nature Areas and Gardens
   Stanpit and Purewell
   Stanpit Marsh
   Purewell Meadows
   Steamer Point
   Chewton Bunny
   Nea Meadows, Hazelmere Copse, Lakewood and Cliffs SSSI
   Mude Valley
   North of Christchurch
   St Catherine’s Hill
   Grove Copse
   Cowards Marsh
   Other Nature Sites
   Druitt Gardens and Flowers
Local Fare
   Country Market
   Fish Stall, Mudeford Quay
   Dorset Smokery
   Farm Shop and Delis
   Local Cafés
The Arts
   A History of Art and Artists
   The Art Scene Today
   Some Local Artists
   Books and Authors
   Dance and Drama
   Film and TV
   The Regent Centre
   Ivo the Clown
Folklore and Strange Happenings
   Things that Go ‘Bump’
   Stories Connected with the Priory
   Strange Creatures
   Infamous Characters
Family Fun and Other Activities
   Play Areas
   Youth Centres and Groups
   Boating and Ferries
Sport and Leisure
   Sailing, Water Sports, Rowing, Fishing, Football, Cricket, Golf and ‘Footgolf’, Bowls, Tennis, Athletics, Swimming, Horse Riding,
       Snowtrax, Shooting, Rugby Union,
  Two Riversmeet Leisure Complex,
  Other Facilities
Regular Events
Interesting Buildings and Businesses
   The Priory
   Priory House and Vicarages
   Christchurch Castle
   Constable’s House
   Place Mill
   Highcliffe Castle
   The Kings Arms
   Christchurch Barracks
   Bournemouth Airport
   The Railway Station
   Christchurch Hospital
   Castles Home Hardware
   Stewarts Garden Centre
   Walk 1: Historic Town Centre and Blue Plaques
   Walk 2: Stanpit and Purewell
   Walk 3: St Catherine’s Hill
   Walk 4: Mudeford
   Walk 5: Bargates and Royalty Fishery
   Walk 6: Highcliffe and Chewton Bunny
Other Walks and Cycling Routes
Outlying Areas of the Borough
Help and Information
   Maps, Transport, Christchurch Information Centre, Museums, Christchurch Library, Lifeguards, Other Useful Contacts and Sources of Information, Bibliography

EXTRACT FROM THE BOOK – from the chapter ‘Harbour and Seafront'

Friars Cliff and Steamer Point
Further along is Friars Cliff, with its colourful beach huts and own café called the Beach Hut, which opens specially on Christmas morning to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. A New Year’s Day swim also takes place here to benefit the charity, with members of Christchurch Life Saving Club represented. A lifeguard and first-aid service operates here in summer and the area is designated for water sports. There is also a former coastguard training school building and a cliff-top monument marking the site of a radar development station.
 Continuing on from Friars Cliff is Steamer Point and the grounds of Highcliffe Castle, which can be accessed via a zig-zag path up the cliff. This is a designated sailboarding area and a round of the annual UK national windsurfing championships is held here. Steamer Point Nature Reserve is a short walk from the beach. A sign at Friars Cliff Beach shows the location of the reserve, next to Seaway Avenue car park. Steamer Point takes its name from the steamer SS Arrow that the castle’s owner, Lord Stuart de Rothesay, pulled up the beach to a gap in the cliff in 1830 and used as a site office, then summer house, now long since gone. The steamer reveals its boiler sometimes at low tide.

      Orienteering markers are now scattered throughout Steamer Point Nature Reserve, the beach and Highcliffe Castle, part of the Activate Coast and Countryside project, which gives people the chance to try out a range of different sporting activities. Orienteering packs are available to buy from the Castle gift shop, or you can book on to a 3-hour instructor-led session.

In May 2015 Avon Beach, Friars Cliff Beach and Highcliffe Beach all won Seaside Awards (judged and presented by Keep Britain Tidy) for achieving the highest standards of beach management and meeting water quality guidelines.


‘unbelievably comprehensive ... It is inconceivable to think that there is anything you might want to know about the town, its history and things to do that are not covered in some way by it.’
Dorset Life

‘an informative, imaginative and well-researched book about Christchurch. It's a great read and would suit residents and visitors alike, so buy it, read it, and share in the author’s love for a town that sounds well worth visiting.’
Amazon review


Steve Roberts was born in Worcester in 1957 and brought up and educated in the Vale of Evesham. He completed teacher training in Birmingham, then taught in Brighton, Southend and Uxbridge, before moving to Bournemouth and marrying Val in 1984. He worked in IT for many years, becoming a project manager and Chartered Insurer. He set himself up as a freelance writer, public speaker and private tutor in 2012, and has had non-fiction articles published in around 50 different magazines. Lesser Known Christchurch is his first book.

Steve's Twitter page


Christchurch History Society –

Christchurch Community Partnership –

The Priory –

Royalty Fishery –

Bournemouth Boating –

Mudeford Ferry –

Red House Museum –

Highcliffe Castle –

The Kings Arms –

Regent Centre –

CADArts –

Christchurch Arts Guild –

The blue plaques of Christchurch –


Please CLICK HERE for ordering options