Finding History where you live and our Walking Tour of Bournemouth

I have lived in Bournemouth for the last 19 years, but have had relatives here for all my life and it is the place I feel most at home.

I often write about my home town and things we enjoy doing here, however, I am totally guilty of not ‘seeing’ everything our beautiful town has to offer.

On Wednesday we were invited to do a Walking Tour of Bournemouth with Hattie Miles, organised by Hotter Shoes and despite me thinking I had a good knowledge of my local area, I was very wrong!

Trips to Bournemouth town centre for me are normally rushed, herding children to the shops we want to visit and getting in and out as quickly as possible. On the walking tour of Bournemouth, Hattie showed us the history of the town by simply looking up and taking our time.

Our walk began at the Hotter Shoe Shop in the centre of town.

Hotter Shoes Bournemouth

Opposite Hotter Shoes is the Gervais Arcade, somewhere I normally visit to go into Cath Kidston or Waterstones. The arcade was originally built as two rows of shops with the glazed roof added in 1872.

Gervais Arcade

It still has its original tiled floor and on your right, the façade of the jeweller’s shop still has the polished brass base advertising the original cigar importing business of Edward Offer and Co Ltd.

Gervais Arcade

I was a little confused when we nipped into the Essential One shop. It is somewhere I have visited numerous times but I never noticed the beautiful stained glass window depicting a woman holding a bowl of fruit at the rear of the shop.

Gervais Arcade

At the other end of the arcade is Charles Fox & Son’s jewellers which opened its doors in 1876.  I never noticed the huge wooden clock sat at the end of the arcade or the original gold leaf signage above the door. Sadly we were not allowed to take pictures of this shop.

I knew that Bournemouth and Poole had played a vital role in WW2 hosting soldiers from Canada and the USA as well as taking on a vital role in the D-Day Landings but I hadn’t realised that it had also been bombed. On 23 May 1943 the town and surrounding areas were hit in the bloodiest raid of the war, with some of its most famous landmarks of the time being completely destroyed, including the Metropole Hotel and Beales Department Store. The picture below is the 1887 in art nouveau lettering is what is left of the old Beales building which famously was the first department store in England to have a live Father Christmas


Whenever I visit other towns, I am quite good at spotting blue plaques on buildings which commemorate its historical significance, typically giving the name of a famous or eminent person who once lived in or near the building. I cannot say I have ever seen one in Bournemouth, but in fact there are 39!

Blue Plaque

Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein, is famously buried in St Peter’s Church in the centre of town and we found out more about her tragic story.

St Peters Church

The graveyard is also home to the memorial to Lewis Tregonwell, who is credited as being the founder of Bournemouth and other famous residents including Dan Godfrey who founded the Bournemouth Municipal Orchestra.

There are 39 steps in the graveyard, built to represent the 39 Articles of Faith in the Book of Common Prayer, and I look the opportunity to grab a photo-op of my fabulous Hotter Orla Boots which kept me warm and comfortable on our early evening walk.

Orla Boots

We then headed back towards Old Christchurch Road through the Burlington Arcade which is home to Giggi Gelataria which serves some of the finest homemade Italian ice cream in the UK. They even have an impressive amount of options for Vegan’s too – see our short facebook live video with our favourite flavours from Giggi’s here.

Giggis Gelataria

Full of delicious ice cream, we continued onto Old Christchurch Road where we looked up at the magnificent Victorian buildings which rise above the shops, found the smallest shop in Bournemouth which is literally built in a broom cupboard and the old Theatre Royal which is now used as a Casino.

Theatre Royal

We finished our tour back at the Hotter Shoe shop after admiring the huge art deco Bournemouth Echo building, the beautiful Royal Norfolk Hotel and finding the birth place of Hubert Parry, the composer of Jerusalem.

Blue Plaque

Thank you to Hattie from for such an informative and interesting walk around central Bournemouth. She offers both guided and self guided walks around Bournemouth and the surrounding areas and it is certainly something I will be doing again as I love finding out the history about places we visit and where we live.

Daily Echo

Also a big thank you to Hotter Shoes for organising such a fun event and providing the comfy shoes to wear as we walked too. I have summarised our trip for the blog but you can find the full walking tour of Bournemouth here and Hotter would love to see photo’s of you enjoying the walk too – just email your pics to

I have a £10 Gift Code for my readers: PQBTPD. T&C’s – £10 off plus FREE delivery is for first orders only. You are entitled to £10 off the total order value of any full priced items in the Hotter range (excluding shoe care products) plus FREE delivery.  This offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other promotional offer or on Sale or Factory Clearance items and gift vouchers. Expires 29/1/17




21 thoughts on “Finding History where you live and our Walking Tour of Bournemouth

  1. So much to see and do! We’ve been to Bournemouth a few times but it looks like we missed a lot! Love the icecream! I want to go to the ice cream parlour when we go back!

  2. I love doing walking tours, even when you feel like you know an area well there’s always something to learn! Love Bournemouth too! My best friend went to Uni here and I used to visit all the time, getting up to all sorts! 😀

  3. I have never been to Bournemouth the hubby has and he loved it, sounds like a fab day,I agree i live in Edinburgh and there’s so much I should do but I haven’t xx

  4. I love walking tours! I didn’t realise Mary Shelley was buried in Bournemouth. I thought it strange the term ‘Mortal remains’ until I saw it was just her husband’s heart buried there. I’m off to find out more!

  5. It’s really good being able to explore somewhere you think you know well, through tourist eyes. I think it gives you a whole new appreciation for the place. It sounds like you learned a lot

  6. Loved this post, I studied history at university and there is so much history to discover right on our front doorsteps.

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