Christchurch is a town, civil parish and former borough in the county of Dorset on the English Channel coast, adjoining Bournemouth in the west, with the New Forest to the east. Historically in Hampshire, it joined Dorset with the reorganisation of local government in 1974 and is the most easterly borough in the county. The town has existed since 650 AD and its close proximity to the Cotentin Peninsula made it an important trading port and a potential target for invasion during the Napoleonic and Second World Wars.
Situated at the lowest crossing points of the Avon and Stour, it was originally known as Twynham, from "tweon eam", meaning (the settlement) between two rivers. It was not until the construction of the priory in 1094 that the town became known as Christchurch. In Saxon times the harbour was one of the most important in England and the town became both a Royal manor and a burgh. During its turbulent history, the town has witnessed battles between Saxons, when Aethelwold stormed the ramparts; between Royalists and Parliamentarians during the civil war, and between smugglers and excise men during the 18th century.