Environment

Friars Cliff housing estate. Friars Cliff housing estate was constructed to the south and east of the original settlement at Bure during the 1930s. It is part of the coastal area of Christchurch, Dorset, located between Highcliffe Castle and Mudeford, to the east of Christchurch town centre.  For maps, click on these links:  Location Map   Street Map 

Friars Cliff Beach at Steamer Point is a south facing shingle and sand beach with cafe, toilets, shower, water stand pipes and car parking. Street parking is only permitted during the winter months (see street signs for details). Further west is Avon Beach with further parking, restaurant and other amenities. Both beaches are served by RNLI Coastguards.

Find insights into the history and layout of the area, local amenities and things to do. 

 

Councillor update January 2020

An update on the sandbank beach house, 2 Riversmeet, and beach replenishment.

Prehistory and Friars Cliff

Prehistory in Friars Cliff Contributor: Ken West Prehistory is the period of time before written records and ended when Britain was invaded by the Romans. We can safely assume that much of the prehistoric remains once present in Friars Cliff have been swept away by...

Musings on Friars Cliff

Who lived here before us? Thoughts and musings from author Ken West.

Parking problems update Nov 2019

Summer congestion and winter parking charges continue to cause road blockages and on-going challenges

Dorothy Baker’s Bench

Sarah-Jayne Taylor offers her poetic insights into another favourite local location, Stanpit Marsh

Winter parking charges

Local winter parking charges cause chaos on sunny winter days.

Swans at Avon Beach

by Sarah-Jayne Taylor   Down on Avon Beach today, A group of children were happy at play, As their parents looked on from the prom, They were laughing and smiling and having such fun, The sun grew strong as the day went by, A family of swans went swimming by, And...

Noisy craft on the water

Noisy craft on the water Trouble on the water front in the form of behaviour and intrusive noise from Jet skis is a problem again. Greater policing in waters further along the coast, and the waves at Avon Beach, have brought more jet skiers to our waters. Over the...

Keeping rats out of your garden

Many of us reach for the bird food as the days grow colder. Are we wasting our money and simply encouraging rats?

Looking after our beach

Every year the Council spends our money on maintaining our beaches as the first line of defence against erosion and flooding. Read about the challenges of this.

Geography

Friars Cliff is the coastal area of Christchurch, Dorset, located between Highcliffe Castle and Mudeford, to the east of Christchurch town centre.  For maps, click on these links:  Location Map   Street Map 

Friars Cliff has shingle and sand beaches with a magnificent view of the Isle of Wight and a cliff top nature reserve at steamer point. Friars Cliff is a focus of coastal protection In Dorset, with groynes and sea walls protecting against erosion.  Christchurch harbour is an excellent spot for begginer sailors and windsurfers, with the sea being a hot spot for windsurfing competitions in the summer.

History

Records show that early in the 18th Century Friars Cliff and its surrounding area was known as ‘Common Gate’.

The current Friars Cliff area was purchased by the ex-Prime Minister Lord Bute (1713-1792) who built High Cliff House in the late 1770s and by 1773 the area was simply referred to as the grounds of ‘High Cliff House’. At this time the estate was much larger than today, stretching from Chewton Bunny Common near Highcliffe village through Friars Cliff to Mudeford Quay. The site of High Cliff House is now out to sea. It was later replaced by Highcliffe Castle in its present location.

Lord Bute was the botanist who helped establish the Physic Garden at Kew, which became the Royal Botanical Gardens. For more info

A smuggling past

This part of the English south coast was popular with smugglers. Notorious smugglers became local heroes. Hanna Sillar (the so-called Angel of the Marsh) ran the “Ship in Distress” inn in Stanpit and was a prime ringleader. Contraband was shipped into her premises  Her neighbour was Charles Streeter. He became a local gang master and tobacco baron.

Smuggling was to continue off Hengistbury head until the mid 1850’s. The most dramatic event of these times occurred in 1784 when the so-called Battle of Mudeford took place. This involved the planned interception of smugglers off Hengistbury Head (or Christchurch Point as the contemporary description describes it). The smugglers were under the command of “Slippery Rogers”, the grandson of a former mayor of Christchurch.

Local nature reserves

Steamer Point is a 24 acre cliff top designated local nature reserve (LNR) that is situated between Highcliffe Castle and Friar’s Cliff on the Christchurch coastline. It comprises of woodland and aquatic habitats and supports a wide variety of flora and fauna. Steamer Point Nature Reserve

The Information Centre at Steamer Point provides extensive information regarding Christchurch’s countryside and also incorporates an interactive display for children to play and learn with. The centre is also the home of the Countryside Service and many of the countryside events in Christchurch are based at or originate here. Other main local sights for bird watching:

An innovation and research based past, of pioneering technology

During WW2 a military research station was sited at Steamer Point, developments included radar guided anti-aircraft guns and the ‘Tenset’ radio telephone used by Lord Montgomery during his campaign through Europe. The building known as site 16 (the 16 is still visible today) was used as an anti-aircraft gun emplacement that incorporated a Lewis machine gun. 

A plaque dedicated to the pioneering work carried out at SRDE between 1948 and 1980 is situated on the concrete plinth where a “radome” used to stand containing a 40-foot diameter dish that communicated with the first launched British satellite. For more information

Our local aviation past

Hengistbury Head became one of the world’s first air fields and an “air pageant” was held in July 1910 with almost all of the aviators in the Britain attending. 

Charles Rolls (one of the founders of Rolls Royce) having purchased his Wright Flyer in 1910 took off and gave a demonstration of the capabilities of the Wright brothers machine, but as he came into land something went terribly wrong. Some commentaries speak of Rolls stalling the machine; others indicate there was a mechanical failure with part of the tail falling off. Either way, the machine fell to the ground from about 100 feet. Charles Rolls was mortally wounded with “severe concussion” and died in the wreckage, before medical assistance arrived.

Local restaurants and cafes

(check other sites such as Trip Advisor for up to date reviews)

Beach Hut Cafe

Deli-Licious Dorset

The Noisy Lobster

The Jetty

China at Lees

The Sandpiper

Haven House Inn, Mudeford Quay (Facebook page)

Highcliffe Castle

Highcliffe Castle has been described as arguably the most important surviving house of the Romantic and Picturesque style of architecture, which flourished at the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century. Its significance is recognised nationally by its Grade 1 status on the Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural and Historical Interest.

For events, opening and cafe details

Watersports

Christchurch harbour is an excellent spot for beginner sailors and windsurfers with Avon Beach a hot spot for windsurfing and kite surfing events. Highcliffe Sailing Club provides year round social and competitive sailing. Each year in September there is a wavesailing event, Avon Beach Wave Classic.

Wavesailing more info 

Watersports rental and tuition

 

Geography

Friars Cliff is the coastal area of Christchurch, Dorset, located between Highcliffe Castle and Mudeford, to the east of Christchurch town centre.  For maps, click on these links:  Location Map   Street Map 

Friars Cliff has shingle and sand beaches with a magnificent view of the Isle of Wight and a cliff top nature reserve at steamer point. Friars Cliff is a focus of coastal protection In Dorset, with groynes and sea walls protecting against erosion.  Christchurch harbour is an excellent spot for begginer sailors and windsurfers, with the sea being a hot spot for windsurfing competitions in the summer.

History

Records show that early in the 18th Century Friars Cliff and its surrounding area was known as ‘Common Gate’.

The current Friars Cliff area was purchased by the ex-Prime Minister Lord Bute (1713-1792) who built High Cliff House in the late 1770s and by 1773 the area was simply referred to as the grounds of ‘High Cliff House’. At this time the estate was much larger than today, stretching from Chewton Bunny Common near Highcliffe village through Friars Cliff to Mudeford Quay. The site of High Cliff House is now out to sea. It was later replaced by Highcliffe Castle in its present location.

Lord Bute was the botanist who helped establish the Physic Garden at Kew, which became the Royal Botanical Gardens. For more info

Smuggling

This part of the English south coast was popular with smugglers. Notorious smugglers became local heroes. Hanna Sillar (the so-called Angel of the Marsh) ran the “Ship in Distress” inn in Stanpit and was a prime ringleader. Contraband was shipped into her premises  Her neighbour was Charles Streeter. He became a local gang master and tobacco baron.

Smuggling was to continue off Hengistbury head until the mid 1850’s. The most dramatic event of these times occurred in 1784 when the so-called Battle of Mudeford took place. This involved the planned interception of smugglers off Hengistbury Head (or Christchurch Point as the contemporary description describes it). The smugglers were under the command of “Slippery Rogers”, the grandson of a former mayor of Christchurch.

Nature

Steamer Point is a 24 acre cliff top designated local nature reserve (LNR) that is situated between Highcliffe Castle and Friar’s Cliff on the Christchurch coastline. It comprises of woodland and aquatic habitats and supports a wide variety of flora and fauna.

The Information Centre at Steamer Point provides extensive information regarding Christchurch’s countryside and also incorporates an interactive display for children to play and learn with. The centre is also the home of the Countryside Service and many of the countryside events in Christchurch are based at or originate here.

Steamer Point Nature Reserve

Stanpit Nature Reserve 

Hengistbury Head

Innovation

During WW2 a military research station was sited at Steamer Point, developments included radar guided anti-aircraft guns and the ‘Tenset’ radio telephone used by Lord Montgomery during his campaign through Europe. The building known as site 16 (the 16 is still visible today) was used as an anti-aircraft gun emplacement that incorporated a Lewis machine gun. 

A plaque dedicated to the pioneering work carried out at SRDE between 1948 and 1980 is situated on the concrete plinth where a “radome” used to stand containing a 40-foot diameter dish that communicated with the first launched British satellite. For more information

Aviation

Hengistbury Head became one of the world’s first air fields and an “air pageant” was held in July 1910 with almost all of the aviators in the Britain attending. 

Charles Rolls (one of the founders of Rolls Royce) having purchased his Wright Flyer in 1910 took off and gave a demonstration of the capabilities of the Wright brothers machine, but as he came into land something went terribly wrong. Some commentaries speak of Rolls stalling the machine; others indicate there was a mechanical failure with part of the tail falling off. Either way, the machine fell to the ground from about 100 feet. Charles Rolls was mortally wounded with “severe concussion” and died in the wreckage, before medical assistance arrived.

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