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Christchurch in 1837

CHRISTCHURCH, a parliamentary borough, market town, and parish, in the south-west extremity of Hampshire, is pleasantly situated within the angle formed by the confluence of the Avon and the Stour, in the hundred of Christchurch, and division of New Forest West, 20 miles W. S. W. of Southampton, and 93 S. W. from London in a straight line. Its name is derived from its church and ancient priory, founded by the West Saxons, in the reign of Edward the Confessor, for a dean and twenty canons. Ranulph Flambard, bishop of Durham, rebuilt the priory in the time of Rufus, and its revenues were greatly augmented by Richard de Redvers, or Rivers, earl of Devon, to whom the manor was given by Henry I. At the dissolution the annual income was £544, 6 shillings. Fragments of the priory walls are still standing, and of the castle keep, which are more than ten feet in thickness, and in the Norman style. The earliest notice of Christchurch is in the Saxon chronicles, where it is said to have been the military position of Ethelwold during his revolt against Edward. By the Saxons it was called Twyneham-Bourne, and Tweon-ea ; and in Domesday Book, where it is mentioned as a burg and royal manor containing thirty messuages, it is called Thuinam. The church is a very fine old structure, in the form of a cross, partly of Norman architecture. From some remains that have been discovered, the town is supposed to have been of Roman origin. In the vicinity appears the site of a camp and entrenchments, with several tumuli and barrows, which have contained human bones. The living is a vicarage, in the diocese of Winchester.

Though the town is a corporation, it is wholly under the jurisdiction of the county magistrates. It sent two members to parliament since the time of Elizabeth, the number was reduced to one by the Reform Act, and the parliamentary borough was enlarged by the Boundary Act. The town is not lighted nor regularly paved, but is amply supplied with water. The salmon fisheries on the coast and river have greatly declined. The population in 1831 of the whole parish was 5,344, and of the new parliamentary borough 6,077. There is a free grammar-school, a national and Lancasterian school, and several endowed charities. The rivers Stour and Avon, after uniting about a mile and a half below the town, flow into Christchurch Bay, and form a spacious harbour ; but from being obstructed by a moving bar of sand, it can be entered only at high water by small vessels drawing five or six feet of water. There is high water twice every tide. Good anchorage in six fathoms water is found in the bay, east of the harbour, two miles from shore. The town has little trade, and does not appear likely to improve in that respect.