Southbourne is a popular holiday resort and is asuburb of Bournemouth. Situated between Boscombe and Christchurch, it offers apleasant beach and a host of nearby visitor attractions.
The area wasoriginally known as Stourfield, named after the River Stour which runs into theestuary at Christchurch. Edmund Bott had a beautiful mansion built in 1766 andit was named Stourfield House. It became the home of Mary Eleanor Bowes, whosetitle was the Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne. When her father died, Maryinherited great wealth and attracted many suitors. Despite her inheritance, orperhaps because of it, she had an unhappy life and was known as the £UnhappyCountess£.
If her title seemsfamiliar, you may be interested to know that Mary Bowes married John Lyon, 9thEarl of Strathmore and eventually the family name and title were passed to thelate Queen Mother, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne.Today the site is merely a block of flats in Douglas Mews, marked by a blueplaque.
Like manyVictorian seaside resorts, Southbourne once had a pier. It was built in 1888and was 300 feet long. Boat trips were regularly run between Southbourne pierand Bournemouth pier but heavy winter storms in early 1901 led to the pierbeing closed for safety reasons. It was demolished in 1909.
The eastern partof Southbourne is known as Hengistbury Head which forms the boundary withChristchurch Harbour. Quarrying of the headland in the mid-19th century led toit being badly eroded by the sea.
Present Day Southbourne
Southbourne todayis centred on the shopping street of Southbourne Grove. It is a pleasant placeto find independent shops and boutiques along with a post office, gift shopsand many caf£s.
There is afunicular railway which links the coastal road with the promenade and beacharea. It is known as the Fisherman's Walk Cliff Railway and was built in 1935to carry 12 passengers at a time up the 128 foot (39m) incline.
The clifftopsoffer spectacular views across to Swanage, Hengistbury Head and even the Isleof Wight on a clear day,
Southbournehas a blue flag award beach with good facilities and a popular seafrontrestaurant. The sand and shingle beach is popular with families and is idealfor surfing, kitesurfing and windsurfing. On calm sea days snorkeling is goodin the clear waters.
The promenaderuns continuously from Southbourne to Boscom be and Bournemouth. It is popularfor evening strolls. In the other direction, Hengist bury Head offers apleasant place to walk on gravel footpaths which lead down to Quarry Pool whichattracts some birdlife.
The Green Flagawarded Seafield Gardens offer a Bowling Green and tennis courts.
Just inland fromSouthbourne is the charming old village of Christchurch at the confluence ofthe rivers Avon and Stour. It has a Norman castle and the old priory dates backto 1094. It is now used as a parish church and has the longest nave in Englandat 311 feet (95m).
Southbourne makesan ideal base for exploring the area including the New Forest and nearbyBournemouth with its pleasure gardens and excellent shopping centre.