The real locations used for:
The Grave Concerns of Jennifer Lloyd
This novel is set in and around Christchurch in Dorset,
England. That is where the narrator and protagonist, Jennifer Lloyd, lives.
But it also involves other locations in nearby Bournemouth,
Highcliffe, Swanage, Salisbury
Why did I choose real settings for my novel? Principally because I like
to write 'atmospheric' fiction to give it more presence: hopefully I can
make it seem more real because, as a writer, I can better visualise it.
It's also great for those who know the locations, of course!
On this page I offer readers who haven't been to this beautiful area
the chance of getting to know it - and of relating it to the novel. So
let's take a walk together. Take your time. (And use the smartphone-friendly
page to go with you on your phone!)
While I mention events which take place in the novel, I also take care
there aren't any plot-spoilers!
Below are two sections:
The Christchurch walk (park in the Priory
car park — BH23 1BU).
Allow at least half-a-day, or a leisurely day with coffee and lunch.
(If you choose a Monday, there is a lively market in the High Street
- but get there early to park!)
Highcliffe Castle (park at Highcliffe
Castle car park - BH23 4LD).
This is the location for my fictional Solent House
and Gardens. But it is NOT the setting.
(In other words, fictional Solent House and Gardens occupy this space,
but are not at all like the reality - except for the sea view.) You
can get a snack meal or coffee there.
If you have a whole day, and good legs, you can do both walks, in the
The Christchurch walk (Starting
from: BH23 1BU)
This is not a long walk in terms of distance, but
how long it takes in time is all down to what interests you - and your
pace! Allow half-a-day to meander and snack, or much less if you are a
Start from the Priory car park and slip through the narrow brick archway
at the rear left of the car park. You come out by anglo-Saxon Place
Mill (Fig 1). (Look
inside at the artwork and gifts!) There are many places for a picnic near
the car park, including the delightful little gardens to the left as you
exit through the archway, or in the Christchurch Harbour
(Fig 2) area, to the right.
As you enter the harbour square, to the right, the Old Mill Tea
Rooms offer a rest after your travels getting there (dog-friendly).
Nearby, just up the road, there is another more up-market - and time-consuming
- alternative on the left: The Upper Deck (dog-friendly outside).
Looking across the River Stour to the left from the harbour, you see
the distant Hengistbury Head (setting for my novel Sandman).
Walk along by the river a little way to the right, and enjoy the beautiful
setting, the swans, and note the bandstand. This sits in the grass area
call The Quomps (Fig
3) - where Jen's landlady had an incident with Jen's little
poodle, Susie. (There's a water play-park at the far end of the grassy
Turn back and head along the road beside The Upper Deck
and turn right at the cross-roads. After a short distance, walking beneath
tall trees beside the road, follow the road round to the left. You are
in Quay Road. (The grounds of Christchurch Priory, the
longest church in England, are on your right. (Hang-fire if you want to
visit it, we pass the main gate shortly.)
Following the road you pass the Red House Museum on your left.
(Another interesting place to visit, and you can even get coffee or tea
in the gardens, which is great, if it's fine!)
Turn left and walk a short distance down Wick Lane and then
right into short little Silver Street. At then end turn right
into Wick Lane and follow it along. On the right you will soon
pass The Thomas Tripp
pub (Fig 4)
- where Jen sings in the novel. (They have live bands Friday and Saturday
evenings - not Thursday, as in the novel).
At the end of the road you enter Church Street. On your left,
on the corner, is Pizza Express
(where Jen ate pizza with Ami Tan). If you turn right, and walk towards
the wrought-iron gates leading into the Priory grounds, you will find
the coffee bar called Soho
(Fig 5) on your left - where
Jen first met Chief Inspector Freddy Moore. (Have you had coffee yet?
Apart from Soho, there are many coffee shops in town.)
With Soho on your left, the main gate to Christchurch Priory
(Fig 6) is ahead
of you, through the wrought-iron gate. (Well worth a visit. Find out about
the 'Miraculous Beam' and how the stones miraculously kept being moved
to this site overnight from St. Catherine's Hill. And, not least, find
out about the unpaid worker!)
With your back to the Priory, follow Church Street to the mini-roundabout.
If you want a diversion into town, go straight ahead into the High Street,
where you can explore and enjoy the shops (and find many other places
for coffee or food). Pick Monday and there will be a market all along
this street. Quite near the roundabout,
on the left, is Bookends (Fig
7), both a bookshop and a gift and art shop. You
can buy copies of my novel here!
(Try the Local Interest shelf.)
Mid-way along the High Street, turn right into Saxon Square
(Fig 8). There are many
choices for places to eat and drink in the High Street and Saxon Square.
Next, retrace your steps along High Street to the mini-roundabout
and turn left into Castle Street. You soon pass the gates on
the right leading through to the ruins of Christchurch Castle (Fig
9) on its own mound of a hill. (The novel says this is
part of Jen's view from her studio flat).
Walk further along the street until you reach the bridge crossing the
River Avon, and turn right into the path between the river and the mill
stream. If you're lucky, you might see the
fishermen in their flat-bottomed boat near the bridge,
mentioned in the novel. Next to the river and the bridge are the seats
where Jen likes to sit and think. Look back at the buildings on the road,
to the left of the bridge, and that is, more or less, where
I imagine Jen to live (Fig
10) (although I cannot specify a building).
Follow the path between the river and stream (part
of Jen's short jogging route), and this walk (Fig
11) takes you back to Place Mill. During the
walk you will see the rear of Christchurch Priory high up to your right,
across the stream. Turn back through the brick archway into Priory Car
park to complete your Christchurch walk. (Note: You can also get into
the priory grounds through the gardens near the brick arch into the car
As the novel says, the Christchurch motto really is: 'where time
is pleasant'. Hopefully you found it so!
Highcliffe Castle (at
It's only a 15 minute drive from Christchurch Priory car
park (mentioned above), to Highcliffe Castle (Fig
12). Follow the road past where I imagined Jen to live.
Castle Street becomes Bridge Street. Keep following
the road straight on, across traffic lights, then for a mile or so, until
you eventually reach a very large roundabout. Look for the Highcliffe
signposts. (Basically, you turn right at the large roundabout and then
follow the short dual-carriageway to another smaller roundabout.) Cross
straight over the smaller roundabout, and keep straight on and look out
for the sign to Highcliffe Castle soon after a golf course to your right.
You can park in the castle grounds.
Highcliffe Castle is merely the location
I imagined for Solent House and
Gardens. I chose not to use a real gardens attraction
because of the dastardly deeds which went on there. In my head were several
garden attractions in the south of England. (One is more like my description
of Solent House and Gardens, but you will have to work that one out for
yourself.) You can spend a wonderful half-day enjoying the Highcliffe
Castle area - or longer!
Just about the only thing that matches my fictional setting
is the wonderful view, between the trees, across the waters of The
Solent to the Isle of Wight. You can best appreciate it
standing with your back to the castle. If it is a sunny or clear day,
you should be able to see the Isle of Wight across the sea. The so-called
cliffs called the 'polar bear' should then be visible at the far right
of the land. Why not enjoy a coffee outside at the café?
Imagine the café transported to that spot where the
trees part and give you the wonderful sea view. Imagine the entire area,
including the woods to the west of the lawned area, as being part of the
public gardens of Solent House. Then you get near to the setting. Imagine
a church to the east of the setting. Imagine the castle replaced by the
house I describe. A lot of imaginings for you? Well, that's what being
an author is all about!
While you're there, why not take a look around the castle
and then a walk west (right), through the woods, to Mudeford Quay, along
the coast. Watch out for the view through the trees of distant Mudeford
Sandbank and Hengistbury Head.
There are several more coffee or eating options on this
walk after you reach - and walk along - the promenade. It's a wonderful
area and setting. If you get as far as Mudeford Quay, look across
the waters to the Black House on Mudeford Sandbank.
You are then looking at the setting for another of my novels, a psychological
thriller called Sandman! (This website
offers you walks linked
to that novel as well!)
The way back? Forget a circular route! Go the same way back
- or you may regret it!