DorsetCHRISTCHURCHChristchurchPriory(jackpeasephotographyCC-BY-2.0)1 JackPeasePhotography

Christchurch Priory

The Priory is the longest parish church in the country and has been a place of worship for centuries and offers peace and calm and an opportunity for prayer.

Christchurch, Dorset

Opening times

Monday Saturday 9.30am to 5pm.
Sunday 2.15pm to 5.30pm.
Visitors are welcomed and given an explanatory leaflet. Guides are available to enhance your visit and explain the church in more detail. There are many separate chapels which offer places of peace for personal reflection and prayer.


Quay Road
BH23 1BU

Christchurch Priory is a magnificent mediaeval church set at the centre of the town of Christchurch.

In 1094 Ranulf Flambard, a chief minister of King William II, began building a Norman church on the site of the old Saxon Priory. Work continued under his successors and by about 1150 it there was a basic Norman cruciform church and probably a central tower. Building work continued and in the 13th century the nave aisles were vaulted and the clerestory built in the Early English style. By 1350 the nave roof had been lifted and a spire may have been built. The Perpendicular style Lady Chapel was completed and vaulted early in the 15th century, its pendant vault perhaps being the first of its kind in England.

It is reputed that about 1415 the central Norman tower and spire either collapsed or was taken down. The old Norman quire was rebuilt in the 16th century, creating the Great Quire of today with its pendant and lantern vaulted ceiling. A new tower was built in 1470/80. The large Salisbury Chantry and the Draper Chantry were built in the ornate Tudor Renaissance style early in 1529. It was the last major work before the dissolution of the Priory in 1539. The church was much as it appears today.

At the dissolution it is said that the King intended to pull down the church as well as the Priory's monastic buildings. But in response to a plea from the townspeople he relented and granted the church and churchyard to the churchwardens and inhabitants of Christchurch. A corporation known as 'The Sixteen' was formed which became responsible for the temporal and ecclesiastical affairs of the parish.

Post Reformation, many additions have been made including the lath and plaster stucco vaulting in the nave in 1822, the installation of the Royal British Legion's Chapel of Remembrance in 1922 and the Norman window depicting St Francis of Assisi and St Anne, originally from Jumièges Abbey in Normandy.

  • Spectacular stained glass

  • Magnificent memorials

  • Glorious furnishings

  • Fascinating churchyard

  • Enchanting atmosphere

  • Captivating architecture

  • Level access to the main areas

  • Car park at church

  • Café in church

  • Bus stop within 100m

  • Accessible toilets in church

  • Church of England

Contact information

Other nearby churches

St John the Evangelist

Boscombe, Dorset

A powerful, ambitious building, above and beyond the scale you would usually imagine for an Edwardian suburb.