Notes: The Norman house stands adjacent to the road with the top of the keep visible from there. A variety of pay and display and short term parking is available nearby.
WHAT IS THERE TO SEE?
The remains of a twelfth century stone keep on top of a motte with the latter still standing to an impressive height. The stone remains of a Norman house, originally in the castle’s outer bailey, are also visible.
1. Chrsitchurch Castle was one of the administrative centres for enforcing control of the New Forest.
Still towering over the modern day town, Christchurch Castle saw action in the Anarchy during which it was held for Queen Matilda and later in the Civil War when it was garrisoned for Parliament. In both cases it withstood the siege but fears it could fall into the wrong hands led Parliament to order its destruction.
HISTORY OF CHRISTCHURCH CASTLE
Christchurch was established in the seventh century and soon established itself as a prosperous trading post. So much so that King Alfred ordered the settlement to be fortified circa-890AD in order to protect it from Danish raids; Christchurch became one of his famous burhs. Originally it was known as Twynham ("the place between the rivers") given its location between the Rivers Avon and Stour.
Following the Norman invasion it was granted to a Richard de Revieres who built the first castle in 1107 initially in timber but by 1160 rebuilding in stone had commenced. The arrival of the Normans also brought the name change; a priory was established in 1094 which led to the town becoming known as Christchurch. During the Anarchy the castle was held for Queen Matilda incurring an attack from King Stephen's supporters.
During the Civil War Christchurch was originally a Royalist town but was captured by Parliamentary forces in 1644. The Royalists counter-attacked in 1645 retaking the town but the Parliamentary garrison continued to hold the Keep. An attempt to besiege the castle failed and ultimately the Royalists withdrew. Nevertheless to prevent possible re-use by the King’s forces, the castle was destroyed at the end of the war.