Monday, 28 March 2011

Day out in Dorset

After having only driven passed it on sporadic trips westwards, C persuaded me to visit Christchurch with her on Saturday. She's been on many occasions (having once not lived far from it), but I've only ever seen it as a series of roundabouts on the way to somewhere else.

Anyway, we had a great day for it (and, apparently, for insects; they rendered the air hazardously unbreathable at times), in fact the first proper shorts weather of the year. This did, of course, translate into a warm and slightly sticky journey to Christchurch because of the town's sluggish and much put-upon road "network". However, we eventually made it into a parking space close to the town's main landmark, its 11th century Priory.

However, our first port of call was, well, Christchurch's port. Presumably because it's where two rivers reach the sea, the town has a good natural harbour. It's protected from the sea by a tidal marshland, which translates, somewhat unfortunately, to a distant muddy shoreline. Still, it's not like there aren't plenty of nearby places if one's after some littoral action.

The main draw in the town, at least for us, was the Priory, and it didn't disappoint. Despite the size of the town, it's impressively large, and we must have spent more than an hour winding our way through its various chapels and corridors. Needless to say, this left me trigger happy with the camera. Here's view back towards the entrance of the Priory ...


There's quite a bit of stuff in and around the Priory about its commissioning and construction. Including a story about how, when Ranulf Flambard tried to have it built on a nearby hill against the wishes of the townsfolk, the building materials kept mysteriously moving back to the present site. Flambard cited this as the Will Of God, but I think he could have looked more profitably to less lofty intervention. Anyway, the builders are commemorated in this metal frieze ...


And, as usual, there was a lot of stained glass for me to snap photographs of. Among the more unusual pieces, actually in an atrium off to the side of the Priory, was this quality item showing an imminent beheading. This does, apparently, have some sort of historical connection to the Priory, but it still seems a strange thing to make a stained glass window of ...


After the Priory we strolled up and down the town's main street and grabbed an early dinner, but while there are a few other interesting things there (including this art deco cinema), the Priory's the main attraction (though yachties and charity-shop connoisseurs may disagree).

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