The Harbour has some of the loveliest villages in the area.  These are great places to explore, full of charm and history.

Birdham | Bosham | Chichester | Chidham | Dell Quay Emsworth | Fishbourne | Havant | Hayling Island | Itchenor | Langstone | Northney | Prinsted | Thorney Island | West Wittering


A small village now important for its two locked marinas.

Birdham Marina
Photo - Martin Bartholomew

Things to do

Birdham is a great start point for walks. For the less energetic just walk around Chichester Marina admiring the expensive boats and watching them go through the lock and follow with a drink at The Boathouse Cafe.  For a longer walk follow the canal into Chichester or try the pleasant circular walk up to Dell Quay passing through the wooded area of Salterns Copse.

The Domesday surveyors recorded two fisheries and a mill at 'Bridgeham' and reckoned the manor to be worth 65 shillings in all. It may be that there was a watermill at Birdham since the time of the Normans but Budsens early eighteenth century map does not show one and the present mill was built in 1768. The rising tide was apparently allowed into the pond and on the ebb, after a good head of water had been secured, the outgoing water turned the mill wheels. The owners of the tide mills worked unusual hours as the tide waits for no man! The mill ceased to grind corn in the 1930s and lockgates were once again built into the wall of the mill pond and a small yacht basin was developed.

Barely a hundred yards from Birdham Pool are the lockgates of the disused Chichester Canal. In times past as a port the town of Chichester was somewhat disadvantaged by its distance from the sea and the merchants of the city were complaining of this hardship as long ago as 1586. In answer to their petition an act was passed allowing the construction of a 'canal to bring haven ... to the suburbs'. However, nothing was done until a further act was passed and work began in 1818 at Ford where the canal joins the River Arun. Certain sections of the bar were dredged and in 1823 the way was complete and barges could travel safely and comparatively quickly from Portsmouth through Langstone and Chichester Harbours to Birdham and then onto Chichester or even London.

Within two years of the canal opening proposals were published for a south coast railway and in 1846 the line from Brighton to Chichester was opened. The greater part of the canal became redundant almost immediately and trade between Chichester and the Harbour also dwindled.

Birdham is now important for its two thriving marinas. Houseboats line the lower end of the canal which although no longer used for navigation makes a pleasant walk into Chichester.

St James C of E, Birdham
The Church, which was dedicated to St Leonard until about 1900 but is now dedicated to St James, was built in the 14th century and has a 16th century tower. It was much restored in the 19th century.

More information:

By road: Take the A286 south from Chichester. The turning for Chichester Marina is about 3 miles down the road on the right. For the main village and Birdham Pool continue along the A286 for a further 2 miles.
By bus: Service 53 or 52 from Chichester stops at Chichester Marina and further along at the Birdham Stores. See also bus service.

More information:


Bosham is arguably the prettiest of the Harbour villages and certainly the most popular with today's tourists. They come to admire the pretty cottages, the outstanding views and to visit the excellent tea shops.

Photo - John Dean

Things to do
Visit the Church of the Holy Trinity
Have a picnic on the National Trust owned Quay Meadow with wonderful views towards Chidham.
Have tea and cake in one of Bosham's tea shops. 
Have a drink in the 300 year old waterside pub, the 'Anchor Bleu'. The 'Bleu' is believed to have come from the days when there were separate Admirals of the Blue Fleet and the Red Fleet.
Visit Bosham Walk, situated in an old boathouse, this craft centre has 17 small shops on 2 floors. With flagstone floors and old wooden beams it has the feel of an old style shopping street. Artists, clock and picture restorers, handturned and carved wood and handmade British crafts can all be found.
Watch the cars parked on the shoreline disappear as the tide comes in!

Bosham's history is long, some well documented and other steeped in myths and legends. Around 1000AD the Danes invaded Bosham and the story goes that they made off with the church bell only to lose it in what is now called the 'bell hole'. Locals say you can hear the bell ringing on stormy nights!

Bosham is reputed to be the site of King Canute's attempt to stop the tide. Some historians believe that Canute's young daughter was drowned in the millstream and is buried in Bosham Church.

Bosham next appears on the Bayeaux Tapestry. As King Harold's home village, it was from here that he sailed to Normandy in 1064. Bosham Church is depicted on the Tapestry along with the history of the Battle of Hastings. However, the church is thought to pre-date Harold by about 300 years making it one of the oldest in England.

Bosham has always been a prosperous village, covering over 3,000 acres it was the largest parish on the Sussex side of the Harbour by the 14th century. Agriculture, fishing and boat building were its main trades. As leisure pursuits rose in popularity the boatyards changed from building fishing vessels and wooden sailing coasters to the construction of small yachts and dinghies. Although not particularly important as a port, it is believed that 'The Trippit', a raised walkway at Bosham, was built of stones from all over England and Europe that came into Bosham as ship's ballast.

During the Plague year of 1664, the people of Bosham took food to citizens of Chichester, who were confined within the City Walls. Because of this Christian charity, they were granted the right to sell items in the market in Chichester without paying for a licence.

The first sailing club on the Sussex side of the Harbour was formed in 1907 at Bosham. Originally it organised regattas at both Itchenor and Bosham until Itchenor formed it's own club. By 1922 Itchenor had been deleted from the Club's rule book and that date is held as the official beginning of the Bosham Sailing Club.

Today there is some farming in the area but following the closure of Combes Boatyard in 1999, there is no longer any commercial boat building at Bosham. In the main, the village is residential and a popular location for day trippers and tourists.

Harbour Story
Bosham is one of the places where King Canute (reigned 1016-35) is alleged to have sat on a chair, surrounded by his courtiers and ordered the tide to retreat. The concept behind this was that even he, the great King of England and Denmark, had no power over the waters of the sea.

A likely explanation for the Canute legend is that a dyke was built across the Harbour just above the Quay and this area was reclaimed for farming. The Saxon word for dyke is char. One can only think that Canute's dyke was not a very successful one and before long it was breached as a result of a hurricane or high tides, the weakness being that the dyke faced the prevailing south westerly winds.

There is another possibility that the use of the word ‘chair' in the legend may have evolved from the Saxon name given to earthen banks which were built, to keep the sea out of fields and which were know as ‘chairs'.

(Abridged from ‘Bosham - a village by the sea' by Angela Bromley-Martin. Published by Hughenden Publications 2006. ISBN 0-9541395-1-8)

Holy Trinity, High Street, Bosham
This is a spectacular Saxon church in a wonderful setting. There are historical connections to King Harold and King Canute. There is a Saxon arch and Saxon tower. Early English east window and a copy of a part of the Bayeaux Tapestry in which the church is depicted.
Open daily dawn to dusk.

By Road - Bosham is signposted from the A259 between Havant and Chichester. There is a pay and display car park in Bosham Lane.
By Rail - Bosham Station is on the South Coast line between Portsmouth and Brighton/London Victoria.  
By Bus - Service No 700 between Portsmouth and Chichester.
The older part of the village and access to the Harbour is a 1/2 mile walk from the rail station and bus stop.  Follow the signposts along Delling Lane.
By Boat - Visitors can tie up to the quayside with access for 2.5 hours each side of high water, (neap tides).

More information


The city of Chichester offers every facility for visitors with an excellent shopping centre and many good cafes, restaurants, pubs and tea shops and the famous Chichester Festival Theatre. 


The city is the centre for the road, bus and rail networks for the area. Contact the Tourist Office (01243 775888) for places to stay.

To the north of the city rise the South Downs, unspoilt with lovely walks and views (including the South Downs Way). Nearby the open air museum at Singleton and the stately homes of Goodwood, Uppark and Parham and the castle at Arundel, are just some of the attractions worth visiting. The famous Chichester Festivities with a wide range of arts, music and community events is usually held in July, check with the Tourist Office for a programme of events.

By Road - Chichester is on the A27 between Portsmouth and Brighton. There are many pay and display car parks in the town centre.
By Rail - Chichester station is on the South Coast line between Portsmouth and Brighton/London Victoria.  
By Bus - Service No 700 between Portsmouth and Brighton. 

More information: 
Tourist Information Office


A village that has retained a unique character of its own with some fine unspoilt country and farm houses.

Things to do
Learn to sail, canoe or a host of other activities at either the Cobnor Activities Centre or at Christian Youth Enterprises.
Take the wheelchair path to the wonderful viewpoint almost opposite Itchenor.
Enjoy a pint and a home cooked meal at the Old House at Home.

A recent excavation has shown that man made use of Chidham more than 4000 years ago. The flint scrapers discovered on the site on the western shore of the peninsula, seem to suggest that spear shafts or kiddles (fish traps) were being made here.

Chidham's main claim to fame is as the origin of 'Chidham wheat'.  Mr Woods, a local farmer, discovered a single plant of wheat in a hedge which contained 30 ears yielding 14,000 corns.  He planted these and so developed a new strain of high yielding wheat that was one of the most widely grown types across Britain from 1800 to 1880.

The present flint and rubble church only dates from the 13th century - a wooden one may have stood here before. Close by is the manor house, a large late 17th century building but of greater interest to many people is the nearby pub, the 'Old House at Home' which offers a selection of real ales.

The men of Chidham seem to have been farmers rather than fishermen or sailors, probably due to the good quality of their soil. The village seems almost oblivious to the nearness of the sea.

In 1812 an embankment wall was built across from Chidham to Bosham where use was made of an old quay. Writing of Bosham in the 1860s Charles Longcroft described how the newly enclosed land was ploughed and planted with corn. 'But one November, there came a raging tide and a gale wind, from the southwest and away went the embankment..'. In 1825 the sea returned covering the farmland and inundating new buildings. One of these is said to have been a mansion, standing at Cutmill whose stone was afterwards used to build Cutmill Cottage.

Chidham village, lies on a loop-road, around the peninsula. The road leading to Cobnor is a private road, but has access to both activities centres and to disabled parking for access to the wheelchair path.  Access to the shoreline is by footpath only but there are many lovely walks in the area.

St Mary's, Cot Lane, Chidham
Chidham churchSt Mary's is a simple country church which could only be in Sussex, according to Nicholas Pevsner. The nave and chancel were built in the 13th century, and the north aisle added in the 14th century. Graffiti and pilgrim's crosses can be seen in the Chapel of St Cuthman.

By road - Chidham is signposted from the A259 between Bosham and Southbourne.  Access the village via Chidham Lane or Cot Lane. Free parking is available at the Amenity car park at the end of Chidham Lane for about 12 cars. Only the entrance track is seen from the road, which then turns a corner into the parking area.

More information

Dell Quay

A small hamlet with an historic quay that was once a bustling trading port, now home to our Education Centre.

Things to do
Take the footpath south through Salterns Copse to Chichester Marina or north to Fishbourne Meadows enjoying spectacular views of the Harbour and the Downs.
Go crabbing from the quay at high tide.
Enjoy a pint and a home cooked meal at the Crown & Anchor.

Five hundred years ago, Dell Quay was the 7th most important port in the Kingdom. Small coastal barges and local boats carried wool and grain to London and foreign ports, and brought back coal, timber and cargoes of anything needed for the City of Chichester. In the early 1800s there were over a hundred ships registered there.

Goods were landed at Dell Quay up until the late 1930s.  At Copperas Point South of Dell Quay, archaeological work has found what is believed to be a Roman Tilery, where craftsmen used local clay to make roof tiles.  The Fishbourne Channel was only deep enough for large Roman boats as far as Copperas Point, so it is possible that there was some sort of Roman harbour here, where large boats were unloaded and the goods taken north by land or in shallow boats.  This has made people think that perhaps Stane Street (the Roman road from Chichester to London) may have started at Copperas Point.

Dell Quay is a small hamlet with a busy pub, a thriving sailing club and two boatyards.  It is also home to our Education Centre, right on the quay.  There are footpaths extending along the shoreline in both directions making it the ideal starting point for a walk in the Harbour.  You can also access the Salterns Way cycle path from the road.

By road - Take the A286 south of Chichester and follow for about 2 miles until you see a right hand turn.
Note there is no parking allowed on the Quay.  There are a small number of free parking spaces at the end of Dell Quay Road, but it is also possible to park on the road. This gets very busy at peak times.
By bus - Services 52 and 53 from Chichester will stop at the top of the lane to Dell Quay.
By boat - Access to the quay is 2½ hours each side of the high tide.  


Emsworth is a fishing village with a long history of connections with the sea: fishing, boat building and oystering. The village itself is picturesque with narrow streets, Georgian houses, high walled gardens, a good selection of village shops and restaurants. The pretty mill ponds are home to a variety of wildlife. A visit to this unique village is a must for all harbour lovers.

Photo - Paul Adams

Things to do
Enjoy a meal at one Emsworth's many gourmet restaurants.
Enjoy a drink at one of its 11 pubs.
Spend an afternoon browsing around the village shops and follow with tea at one of the pretty cafes.
Visit the Museum.
Take a trip on Terror, a restored Victorian oyster boat.

Emsworth is first recorded in the reign of King John, when Aguillon paid the King 'a pair of gilt spurs yearly' as rent. In 1239 Henry III granted a charter providing for a weekly market and an annual fair to be held in Emsworth on St Thomas' day. Of all the Harbour communities, Emsworth seems to have grown and developed most rapidly.

In the seventeen and eighteen hundreds there were five or six mills grinding in the town. Three were tide mills having vast mill ponds: Old Slipper Mill is now converted to flats, whilst Quay Mill built on the town quay now houses the Emsworth Slipper Sailing Club. The third mill, New Slipper Mill burnt down in the late 1880s after only a few years' use.

In the 19th century almost every kind of trade was found in Emsworth: there were tailors, boot and shoe makers, shop keepers selling all kinds of goods, many taverns and The Crown Inn where the coaches on their way to London or south coast towns stopped to change horses. The coming of the Cosham-Chichester turnpike in 1862 and the opening of the canal to Arundel in 1823 did not pass Emsworth by; the former improved coach travel to a great extent and the latter enabled barges from Emsworth to reach the centre of Chichester to the benefit of both communities. Flour and malt were important export cargoes. By 1836 almost half of all coastal cargoes were handled at Emsworth.

At this stage Emsworth was at its height of prosperity as a small Hampshire market town with its own elementary school, doctors, lawyers, merchants and craftsmen. From 1850 onwards commercial traffic steadily declined partly due to improved inland communications and in part to the increasing size of the craft which small ports could no longer accommodate. As commerce declined at the latter end of the 19th century, so long-distance fishing took its place, yet by the 1920s this too had ceased. The last collier docked in 1929.

Emsworth grew up not just by trade but also because of the importance of the local fishery both within and without the Harbour. Trade was mainly in oysters, once the poor man's meat and along with it all the trades needed to support the industry. The 19th century saw commercial rivalry when oyster fleets from the East coast began to poach on the Harbour. With the local stock soon exhausted the Emsworth fishermen had to go further afield - Brittany. New oyster smacks needed to be bigger and faster. One of the biggest fleet owners was James Duncan Foster who built his own innovative boats.

In 1902 Emsworth oysters were served as the first course to a banquet attended by the Dean of Winchester amongst others. He and a number of others died and it was found that the oysters were polluted with sewage. The sale of oysters were banned until the new sewage scheme was opened in 1914. After the First World War the industry got going again but never reached its previous peak.

The Harbour is a good reason to visit Emsworth and provides an ideal base for sailors and windsurfers of all levels. Magnificent views to the downs, Hayling Island and Thorney Island are an added bonus. In winter migrating birds, such as Brent Geese, Shelducks and Bar-tailed Godwits use this area as their seasonal home . The town has 11 pubs many of which are in or within easy reach of The Square with some dating back to the 18th century. Many restaurants and cafes offer variety for all tastes.

The shopping area radiates out from The Square and has a feel of old rural England with its range of specialist shops and locally caught fish. Emsworth is a good base for walks around the Harbour and further afield.

By Road - Emsworth is on the A259 between Havant and Chichester. There is a pay and display car park in South Street and others to the north of the A259.
By Rail - Emsworth Station is on the South Coast line between Southampton and Brighton/London Victoria.
By Bus - Service No 700 between Portsmouth and Chichester.
By Boat - There is a deep water pontoon and a drying jetty closer to the town with access for 3.5 hours each side of high water, (neap tides).

More information


This village, where landing is almost impossible, was once a Roman port. It is now most famous for the Roman Palace and Museum which was discovered in 1960.

Things to do
See the dolphin mosaics at the Roman Palace.
Feed the ducks at the beautiful pond.
Join a Conservancy stream dipping or bat watching trip to Fishbourne Meadows.
Walk through the rustling reedbeds.

The Chichester harbour area was held by the Atrebates, a tribe closely allied to Rome and, as we have seen, proved an ideal base from which the invading army could move westward. Over the following centuries legend had it that Vespasian, the Roman commander, had a villa in the neighbourhood of Bosham. Tradition was proved to be not entirely without foundation for in 1960 the first remains were accidentally unearthed of extensive Roman buildings at Fishbourne. The earliest of these must be some of the first Roman workings in Britain and have been interpreted as storehouses of a supply depot serving the military camp. Once the work of the army was done civilian life was re-established under the rule and influence of Rome.

New buildings appeared at Fishbourne and are presumed to have been owned by Cogidubnus, the wealthy governor of the region who was styled 'King of the British'. He was almost certainly a chieftain or prince of the old Atrebate tribe but his taste, both in architecture and in luxury, suggests that he may have visited Rome. Cogidubnus achieved a rank within Romano-British society equivalent of that of a Senator. The remains of his villa show it to have been unequalled by any other found in England, for it compares rather to the palaces of the emperors in Rome. To have afforded the shipment of marble and from as far afield as Turkey and Egypt and to have paid the wages of the skilled Italian craftsmen Cogidubnus must have received substantial Roman backing and been considered a very important asset.

Before the Roman withdrawal from Britain the great palace had been burnt to the ground. The fire came at a time of great unrest, and whether it was sparked off by an accident or by an uprising or pirate raid is unlikely to be known. The millennium between the coming of the Romans and the coming of the Normans was an age of darkness as far as history is concerned.

Fishbourne emerges, in the survey of 1086 as 'Fiseborne', held by the French Abbey of Seez having previously been held by Tostig who was slain in battle against his brother King Harold. The name of the place, meaning a river of fish, presumably refers not to the small rife running here but to the Harbour itself.

Over the years there have been at least six mills at Fishbourne, two of them windmills. The medieval village probably grew around Mill Lane but the settlement spread out along the main road in the 1700s.

Fishbourne is a small village with the Roman Palace as its main feature.

St Peter and St Mary, Fishbourne
This simple Church has stood in it's peaceful setting for more than 700 years, overlooking Fishbourne Creek
and the water meadows. A Chichester Register of the period 1243/54 indicates that the Church was in existence at that time. The Rectors' Board (illustrated - centreright) lists the first Rector as being in office in 1326.

The original church probably consisted of the present Chancel only; the Nave and Bell-cote are thought to have been added in the 14th century. In the 17th century the transept, porch and south aisle were added. On the external north-east corner are found Pilgrim marks, consisting of several small crosses (see centre left). These are believed to have been cut by pilgrims from the continent who had landed in Portsmouth and were making their way to the Shrine of St. Richard in Chichester Cathedral. These pilgrimages took place between 1262 (the year of the Saint's canonization) and 1538 when the shrine was destroyed by Henry VIII's commissioners.

By road - Take the A259 east of Chichester and Fishbourne a few hundred yards down the road. The Harbour can be accessed from Mill Lane next to the Bull's Head pub.
By bus - Service 700 stops in the village.
By rail - Fishbourne Station is on the main line from Chichester to Portsmouth.  It is a 10 min walk south and then west along the main road to reach the Mill Lane which leads to the water.


Havant provides good shopping and other facilities and has rich artistic and literary history and a number of exciting arts and musical festivals throughout the year.

The Spring, Havant

A wide range of sports and leisure activities are available and can be easily accessed by visitors. Havant is the gateway to Hayling Island.  The combination of excellent beaches and countryside coastal areas make Hayling Island a perfect choice for those who enjoy variety and a quiet place to relax. Unlike many seaside resorts, Hayling Island has remained largely unspoilt by the demands of a modern society.

By road - Havant is on the A27 between Chichester and Portsmouth.  The A3023 runs from Havant to Hayling Island.
By rail - Havant station is a junction of the Southcoast main line from Portsmouth to Brighton/London Victoria and the Portsmorth to London Waterloo line.
By bus - Many local services visit Havant and it is also served by the 700 service from Brighton to Portsmouth.  

More information

Hayling Island

A popular holiday resort with many facilities and four miles of beach. 

Hayling Island

Most of the island does not fall within the geographical limits of the amenity area controlled by the Chichester Harbour Conservancy, the parts that do, on the eastern side of the island, are quiet and unfrequented unlike the rest of the Island. Access to the public is possible to the important nature sites of Northney Common and Northney Marshes. Other sites such as, Gutner Point, Verner Common, Tourner Bury, My Lords Pond and Sandy Point are privately owned and access is only by arrangement.

The ancient and popular Hayling Ferry runs from the western tip of Hayling Island to the Eastney peninsula of Portsea. Sinah Common is the site of a famous 18 hole seaside golf course. There are many places to stay, contact the Tourist Office (023 9246 7111). St Peter's Church is one of the loveliest buildings on the Island; built in 1140 it escaped the great fire that swept through the village in 1757 and stands today as a fine example of a typical English village church of the Norman period. The 'Great and Little Salterns' were the site of salt pans for the conversion of seawater into salt by evaporation. Probably medieval in origin they fell into disuse in the late 19th century.

In pagan times islands were of religious importance and the remains of a Romano-British Temple were found on Hayling Island in 1976. By Domesday Hayling had been divided into three, one each owned by the King, the Abbey of Winchester and a French monastery that had moved from Caen in Normandy.

Foot passengers were able to cross to the island from Langstone by ferry, but carts had to wait for low water and use the ancient Wadeway. Eventually, a toll bridge was built, and then came the railway on its own bridge. The Puffing Billy ran from Havant to the lovely sandy beaches opposite the Isle of Wight and was very popular with holidaymakers from London. Sadly there is no railway now, but the route is now a popular cycle path.  There is a road bridge and still a small quay at Langstone.

By road - take the A3023 from the A27 at Havant.
By bus - Servcies 30/31 run from Havant to Hayling Island.  See also bus service.

More information
Hayling Island Tourist Office 023 9246 7111


A winding lane with picturesque Sussex cottages and overhung with trees and flowering shrubs leads through the village of Itchenor down to the harbour. This quiet village offers the only 24 hour public launching site in the harbour and is home to Chichester Harbour Conservancy.


Things to do
Admire the view from the viewing platform near the hard. Benches and a telescope are provided. In the summertime an ice cream van is usually parked near the hard.
Have a meal at village's only pub - The Ship Inn which is open all day.
Take a ferry ride - a seasonal ferry which takes passengers across the water to Smugglers Hard, you can then take a pleasant hour's walk to Bosham or further afield. To catch the ferry walk to the end of the jetty and he will either be there or returning shortly. Do not panic sometimes he may be 15 minutes or so as he also takes mariners to and from their moored vessels.
Enjoy a boat trip - come aboard Solar Heritage for a trip to learn about the Area of Oustanding Natural Beauty on a solar powered boat.

Itchenor takes its name from the Saxon chieftain Icca who first resettled the district after the collapse of Roman Britain. The parish is still officially called West Itchenor, despite the fact that the village of East Itchenor disappeared in the 15th century.

Around 1175 the then lord of Itchenor built a chapel on the manor which developed into a parish church by the end of the century. The church is dedicated to St Nicholas, the patron saint of seamen and has its own graveyard. Although only 546 acres, the parish was three small settlements: one by the church, one at Shipton Green and a later development by the shore.

During the 18th century there was a considerable amount of ship building which lasted until the end of the Napoleonic wars. A small boat building presence is recorded throughout the years but permanent boat-building and repairs re-started with Haines' yard in 1912.

In the late 18th century the 3rd Duke of Richmond built Itchenor Lodge as his yachting lodge and also a salt-water bath on the shore near where the Conservancy office now stands. His sloop the Goodwood was used to bring stone from various places for both the building of Itchenor House and Goodwood House.

A ferry has been run to Bosham since the early 19th century. Originally this was run by the Rogers family who lived in Ferryside (now the Harbour Office) and later through marriage passed to George Haines, whose family ran it until it closed in the 1950s. George Haines was the harbourmaster, pilot and collector of tolls until the Chichester Corporation took over the running of the Harbour in the 1930s.

By 1927 the yachtsmen and dinghy sailors of Itchenor started their own sailing club. They acquired four small 17th century cottages which were converted to form their club house. The original buildings have since been enlarged and improved. During the last war the club was requisitioned, first by the Army and then by the Navy, when preparing for the D-Day landings.

Today many of the inhabitants of Itchenor have moved to the village for sailing. Midweek and during the winter the village is quiet, the only activity taking place around the boatyards, Harbour Office and pub. However, at weekends and during the summer holidays the village comes alive with visiting sailors and tourists.

Harbour Story
There is a legend that when the Vikings came into the Harbour, they rowed up to Bosham under the cover of fog. They raided the village, set fire to the wattle and daub houses and stole the church bell. When the fog lifted, the men of Itchenor saw what had happened and were waiting for the long boat when it came down the creek. In the fight, the bell sank to the bottom. Afterwards they dredged the mud, but each time the grapnel brought the bell to the surface, the rope broke and the bell sank into the mud again. What were they to do?

The bell had been consecrated, and the parson said that they must use a consecrated rope woven of hair from the tails of white oxen. All this was done and the new rope and grapnel were blessed in Bosham's now bell-less church. They tried again. They dredged again and found the bell, but as it broke the surface of the water, the rope broke. Why? They examined the broken end of the rope to find one black devil's hair among the white. So, the bell lies forever in the Bell Hole and if you listen on a quiet evening you might hear it ring...

St Nicholas, Itchenor
Around 1175 the then lord of Itchenor built a chapel on the manor which developed into a parish church by the end of the century. The church is dedicated to St Nicholas, the patron saint of seamen and has its own graveyard. More information:

By Boat: Access is 24 hours. A deep water jetty has water and pump out facilities. Vessels may stay on the jetty for a maximum of 20 minutes. Six visitors moorings are available free of charge during the day or £5 per night. Each mooring will take up to 6 vessels. All vessels must pay harbour dues. Launching fees are payable to the Harbour Office.
By Ferry: A seasonal ferry runs from Smugglers Hard to Itchenor and also takes passengers to and from their vessels.
By Road:From the A27 take the A286 south of Chichester towards the Witterings. At the small roundabout, head towards West Wittering. About 1/2 mile later take a right hand turn sign posted Itchenor. Follow this lane to the harbourside.
Car parking: A pay and display car park is available, charges are applicable at all times.  Find out more.

Chichester Tourist Office 01243 775888


Langstone is the original port for Havant, it boasts two waterside pubs and beautiful views over this quiet end of the harbour.


Things to do
Take a pleasant 4½ mile circular walk to Emsworth taking in the church at Warblington.
Sit and enjoy the view of the Harbour from the Royal Oak.

Langstone is the original port for Havant at the head of the ancient wadeway to Hayling Island and until the late 1800s it served as a coasting port. In earlier times, foot passengers crossed to the Island by ferry and wheeled transport waited for low tide before traversing the axle-deep stretch of water which divided the harbours of Chichester and Langstone.

When a deeper channel was dredged to enable the passage of barges, a bridge became a necessity and one was completed in 1824 with a central swing span allowing the vessels to pass. Vessels used this route to pass from Portsmouth to London, via the Chichester, Wey and Arun canals thus avoiding the risk of leaving the safety of the harbour to face enemy shipping at sea.

Today the road bridge has no lifting span, prohibiting most sailing craft passing from harbour to harbour. A car park is situated next to the bridge. Nearby are two pubs with views over the Harbour, The Royal Oak, about 500 years old, was originally four smugglers cottages and has been licensed since 1725. The Ship is next to the bridge.

St Thomas a Beckett, Warblington
St. Thomas à Becket is the ancient parish church of Warblington. In former times Warblington was an important place, as it had a mediaeval castle and a church dating back to Saxon times. Now, however, few people live at Warblington, while Emsworth, two miles away, has grown into a town.

Originally The Church was dedicated to St. Mary, but seems to have been changed to St. Thomas à Becket during the last century at the whim of the Rector! Parts of the church building are undoubtedly Saxon, but many changes and additions have been made through the centuries. In the churchyard there are two watchman's huts - put there to prevent graverobbers during the 17th. and 18th. centuries.

By road:Take the road off the Havant roundabout towards Hayling Island. There is a car park just before you cross the road bridge outside the Ship Inn.
By boat:Launching is possible 2 hours each side of the tide



Photo - Ali Beckett

Northney (or North Hayling village) lies in the quiet agricultural corner of north east Hayling Island. It is bordered on the harbour side by the important nature sites of North Common, Northney Marshes and Gutner Point and on the island side by fertile farmland. Known in the past as the cottage village, this unpretentious village grew around a church, St Peters Church, and four farms. One working farm remains. The other three farmhouses are now picturesque residences. Spared any major development, the village is a kaleidoscope of architecture from the twelfth century to the present day, with fine examples from the eighteenth and nineteenth century.

St Peters Church
The church dates from 1140. Pillars stand on roughly shaped boulders, similar to those excavated in archaeological digs from a Roman Temple whose ruins lie under farmland just yards to the west of the church. The temple itself is sited over an Iron Age structure. The church's set of three bells cast in the fourteenth centry are amongst the oldest in the country.

St Peters has a ghost, a sailor drowned crossing the Wadeway in stormy conditions, keen to make his way home from an especially hard action packed voyage in His Majesty's Service. His presence can be felt sitting in the back pew, enjoying the peace of the outstandingly attractive interior of St Peters. The interior is unchanged since 1250. Admire also the 150 hassocks embroidered by hand to mark the millenium, depicting badges and emblems of the military services, charitable and other organisations, and some local scenery. The grave of Princess Yourievsky, a member of the ill fated Russian royal family, who lived in North Hayling for many years can be found in the churchyard.

Although access to the foreshore is limited, there are several short, lovely walks. The limited access gives the north east shores of Hayling Island a largely undisturbed area of intertidal estuarine habitat of particular importance to migrating and wintering birdlife. Its solitude, in addition, favours many varieties of insect, butterfly and wetland plants, some immigrants from more Mediterranean climates.

Nutbourne, Prinsted & Southbourne

Prinsted is now really a hamlet of the small village of Southbourne but the remaining examples of fine architecture to be found in its interesting variety of houses speaks for its former importance.

Photo - Paul Adams

Things to do
Prinsted is a good start point for walks and has the bonus teas served at the Southbourne Sea Scouts hut most weekends.
Take a rest on one of the benches by the shoreline and admire the Harbour view.

None of the villages receive a mention in the Domesday Book but it is likely that a mill stood at Nutbourne. This mill is recorded throughout the Middle Ages and in the 1690s a quay was built alongside it. Many of the small ketches that were able to reach the busy mill probably carried cargoes of grain, for the produce of the fertile hinterland that had sparked off the rash of harbourside mills was no longer sufficient alone to feed the thriving industry. It is likely that the mill ran off the waters of the Hambrook. This stream can still form an obstacle for those wishing to investigate the hamlet lying south of the main road for it flows quite deeply across one of the two small approach roads.

Unlike Nutbourne which now consists largely of modern houses, Prinsted has retained many of its old thatched homesteads. The big brick and stone manor house bears a panel inscribed I&SG 1663 although the foundations and some of the flint work are believed to be older. Other houses in the village show the remains of timber framing, now infilled with brick and flint rubble but which may date from the 1500s.

Southbourne village is largely modern and Victorian, but does boast useful shops and a pub.  It is a good base for exploring the area. 

By road - Southbourne is on the A259 between Chichester and Havant.  Prinsted and Nutbourne are accessed by small lanes running south toward the shore.  Limited parking is available near the foreshore on Prinsted Lane and Farm Lane.
By boat - access is 1½ hours each side of the high tide.

Thorney Island

This is MOD property occupied by the Army. A public footpath gives access around the Island but it is strictly limited to the path.

Photo - Paul Adams

Things to do
Walk the 7 miles around the island for spectacular harbour views and a good place for bird watching.
Visit the church of St Nicholas. The church and cemetery are now accessible for the public. If the church is open you are welcome to go inside. Sailors can come ashore at the jetty.

The name means Island of Thorns or thornbushes. Evidence suggests that the island was used as a ritualistic burial ground. In the late Saxon times Thorney was amongst the lands held by Earl Godwine. In 1052 Godwine had cause to flee the country having rebelled against the King. It was from Thorney that he sailed and did not return until the following year.

When the Domesday survey was undertaken 34 years later, Thorney had been granted to Bishop Obsern of Exeter. He had sublet it to a man called Malger who had further sub divided the land amongst six other tenants.

Thorney was not a wealthy village, on the contrary in the 1300s the people had to be excused payment of their taxes to the King. The church was evidently largely to blame for the rector had a prior entitlement to numerous tithes.

Thorney Church dedicated to St Nicholas sits on the very edge of the island. It is generally said that the church was built in the 1100s by Bishop Warlewaste. Certainly when the church was built the water was not so near. In the 1340s many acres were lost from villages all around the harbour and even in the 1800s Thorney could be seen to be diminishing. An attempt was made to reclaim the Thorney Channel in the late 1800s and the stakes that supported the failed embankment can still be seen.

In 1870 Thorney was successfully joined to the mainland by reclamation of 178 acres which are bisected by the old channel - the Great Deep. The Royal Airforce took over Thorney in 1935 and a complex of houses, hangars and runways were built.

The Island is a base for the Army so it not accessible to the public other than on the perimeter footpath.

St Nicholas, Thorney Island
Thorney Church dedicated to St Nicholas sits on the very edge of the island. It is generally said that the church was built in the 1100s by Bishop Warlewaste. Certainly when the church was built the water was not so near. Walkers and yachtsmen may access the Church. Access by car must be arranged with the Padre.

Only by foot: Join the coastal footpath at Emsworth or Prinsted.  Go through the security gates and keep to the footpath.

West Wittering

The village lies to the east of the entrance to Chichester Harbour, behind the sand spit of East Head. Summer finds the village thronged with visiting tourists drawn by the beautiful sandy beaches.

West Wittering
Photo - Jim Callender

Things to do
Spend a day on the sandy beach - follow the signs to the car park where you will also find a café, toilets, showers and beach goods.
Learn to windsurf or kitesurf - contact the West Wittering Windsurfing Club on 01243 512552 or
Explore the dunes - visit the National Trust site of East Head and spend an afternoon exploring this unique habitat - look out for Sand Lizards! Access via the West Wittering Beach car park.
Have afternoon tea or a meal on the wooden terrace at The Beach House or stop by The Landing for fresh coffee and light meals.
Take a bucket and crab line and spend a pleasant hour catching crabs at the crab pool.

Since it stands at the harbour mouth it seems quite likely that the Romans founded some kind of small coastal defence here and certainly there were other fortifications in later times.

In 683AD there arrived in the South Saxon territory an exiled Bishop of York called Wilfrid. He sought refuge with King Aethelwalch at Selsey and was favourably received for his visit, which coincided with the end of a long drought.

Wilfrid subsequently won over to Christianity the people of this, the last pagan out-post in England. With Aethelwalch's encouragement Wilfrid established a Cathedral at Selsey and the Witterings within an area of land that the King granted to him for its support. The cathedral whose See William 1 transferred to Chichester, still holds the manor of West Wittering, or Cakeham. The main architecture of the manor house dates from most centuries since the sixteenth. Dominating the building is a brick tower built by Bishop Sherborne in the early 1500s, but parts of the older medieval undercroft and hall survive.

Over the years the sea has given up a strange variety of treasures, ranging from the flotsam of broken ships to their cannons and anchors and other valuable cargoes. One wonders if all the wine and brandy washed ashore can really have come from sunken vessels, for amongst the the clever deceits of the smugglers was the trick of allowing the tide to land their wares. So popular was Snowhill Creek with the free-traders that a watch-house and coastguard cottages were built to counter this trade.

Over the centuries much land has been washed away into the sea. East Winner bank was once Cockbush Common a valuable rabbit-warrant, and many other acres have been washed away likewise. The effects of coastal erosion are still felt at East Head which is under constant threat of being washed away.

This small village is like many around the harbour quiet in the winter months and incredibly busy in the summer when crowds of day trippers visit the beaches. A thriving windsurfing club has grown up at West Wittering.

St Peter and St Paul, West Wittering
Local tradition tells of iron rings that were once embedded in the walls of the lovely church of St Peter and St Paul so that fishermen could moor their boats there in days gone by.

By road -Take the A286 south from Chichester and follow for about 7 miles.
By bus - Service 53 and 52 from Chichester and Bracklesham. Check with the bus station for times.
By boat - There is an anchorage at the north of East Head.

More information
Chichester Tourist Office 01243 775888