Christchurch Priory, claimed by many to be the Largest Parish Church in England, looks like it should have belonged to a major abbey or a cathedral. Indeed, it is in fact larger than some cathedrals.
However, the monastery it served, which also boasted a full set of conventual buildings, never rose above the status of a priory, and was home to only twenty four monks.
To the medieval mind, no matter what you did in this life, you could always ensure your place in heaven by giving large amounts of property and money to the church.
Ranulf Flambard, William Rufusʼs exceedingly unpleasant right-hand man, must have realised that the price of his salvation was a high one, as he not only built an enormous church here in Christchurch in 1093 but, in 1099, after he was appointed Bishop of Durham, he built another, nearly as large, as that cityʼs cathedral.
After the dissolution, the monastery church became the parish church, but little remains of any of the other buildings.