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Image by Andrew Buchanan

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Britain's oldest council house?

Dirty Gertie’s is situated within one of Christchurch’s oldest council properties with elements dating back to the 13th century. It was originally used as a private dwelling up until the 15th Century when it was purchased by the borough making it possibly Britain’s oldest council house.

Image by Andrew Buchanan

After the purchase, the council used it as a residential property to house the towns mayor. When the neighbouring ‘’Courthouse’’ was made derelict in the 1800’s, the court leet began to meet in the back parlour room to appoint the towns mayor, constables, hayward and of course the towns ale-taster! 

In 1850, the building became a butchers shop, with evidence of the meat hooks still visible today in the back room and outside in the window frames. The butchers was owned by ‘Gert’ who unfortunately had a back lack of hygiene which earnt him the nickname locally as ‘Dirty Gert’.

The building itself is Grade II listed with a medieval timber frame construction which has been refaced in the 18th and 19thcenturies. The pretty wood front façade is Victorian. The materials used between the frames are now red brick but historically wattle and daub was used. (We can still see evidence of this in the loft.)

Image by Andrew Buchanan

The old jailhouse lockup is still situated in the back garden of the property and was used to house petty thieves back in the day.

It has also been a shoemakers and bookshop until 1944 when the production and selling of perfumes began, giving it the name ‘’The New Forest Perfumery’’.

It was run as a Perfumery until 1996, when previous occupants decided to turn one of the rooms into a tea parlour and began its life as a tearooms until 2018 when Dirty Gertie’s was born.

There are many more interesting facts and stories we can tell you including the old smuggling tunnels and the tale of the black woman. Is the building haunted you ask? Everyone has their own opinion, come and visit us and see what you think?

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