Destination UK

Finding History where you live and our Walking Tour of Bournemouth

Posted on
October 21, 2016

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

  1. Reply

    Dean of Little Steps

    October 21, 2016

    It’s great to re-discover your hometown isn’t it? So much history! 🙂

  2. Reply

    Jane Taylor

    October 21, 2016

    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!

  3. Reply

    Mellissa Williams

    October 21, 2016

    I haven’t been to Bournemouth for years. I definitely have to go back. I love shopping and old arcades and that one remind me of the arcades in Cardiff

  4. Reply

    Erica Price

    October 21, 2016

    I would love to do something like this in my home town. There’s so much history around us and we don’t realise it.

  5. Reply

    Jess Powell (Babi a Fi)

    October 21, 2016

    Oh, wow, that stained glass window is gorgeous! This sounds like a great way to spend a day and learn more about your area! 🙂

  6. Reply

    Emma Raphael

    October 21, 2016

    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! 😀

  7. Reply


    October 21, 2016

    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

  8. Reply

    angela hamilton

    October 21, 2016

    My closest historical city is Glasgow and I must admit I do take it for granted. I should really take the children through one day and show them the historical sites.

  9. Reply


    October 21, 2016

    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!

  10. Reply


    October 22, 2016

    What a fascinating day trip. I love learning about the history of places.

  11. Reply

    Zena's Suitcase

    October 22, 2016

    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

  12. Reply


    October 22, 2016

    What a lovely idea for an event! A nice idea to discover more of your hometown!

  13. Reply

    Jayne @ Sticky Mud and Belly Laughs

    October 22, 2016

    What an amazing way to discover the history of your home town.
    I love the stained glass window, it really is stunning.
    The ice-cream looks pretty good too ????x

    • Reply

      Jayne @ Sticky Mud and Belly Laughs

      October 22, 2016

      Sorry I don’t know why all of those question marks popped up in my comment, I used a smiley face x

  14. Reply


    October 22, 2016

    I love historical tours like this, so can learn so much that you never knew x

  15. Reply


    October 22, 2016

    Looks like a great time, I have always wanted to visit Bournemouth 🙂

  16. Reply

    Baby Isabella

    October 22, 2016

    Nice boots! Can’t believe Mary Shelley is buried in Bournemouth! Sounds like you had a great walking tour which double up as a kinda instawalk too! Great piccys

  17. Reply


    October 23, 2016

    Certainly looks like you had a fantastic day. It’s not often we take a look at places on our door step

  18. Reply


    October 25, 2016

    Sounds like it was really interesting, I’ve never been on a walking tour of anywhere but think I might enjoy them.

  19. Reply

    Sarah, Things Sarah Loves

    October 28, 2016

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

  20. Reply


    January 24, 2018

    That stained glass window is divine! The town looks like it came from an old English fairytale book. The vintage details reminded me so much of Schwarzwald in Germany. It’s a similarly artistic town with it’s own European flair. Here’s a short guide if you plan on going:

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Are we nearly there yet? is a new online blog run by me, Kara Guppy, and is named as such thanks to my daughter Eliza who always asks that very question when we are less than 5 minutes up the road heading off on our adventures. You may know me from my other family blog