SEAWARD SUSSEX - online book

A Description of Travels in Sussex During the early 1900s

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canal is the strangely named "Manhood End." This is a corruption of Mainwood, and refers to the great forest which once stretched from the Downs to the sea. A rather dull walk westwards past Birdham to West Itchenor, a remote little place on the shores of the creek, is amply repaid by the fine views northwards up the Bosham channel, with the far-flung line of the Downs beyond. (A ferry can be taken from here which would make a short cut to Bosham or Fishbourne practicable.) Returning past the church with its interesting font, a footpath is taken to West Wittering and its very fine Transitional church, the most interesting ecclesiastical building in the Selsey Peninsula; note the two rude sculptures of the Annunciation and Resurrection at the ends of a canopied altar tomb; and a coffin lid with pastoral staff possibly of a "boy-bishop." We are now on that portion of the coast which approximates most nearly to the original spot, now beneath the waves, where the first colonists of Sussex landed.
At East Wittering a short distance away is an Early English church with a Norman door. This is not far from Bracklesham Bay, an adventurous excursion for Selsey Beach visitors who come here treasure hunting for fossils, of which large numbers repay careful search. To reach Selsey "town" devious ways must be taken past Earnley, which is surely the quietest and most remote hamlet in the kingdom, on the road from nowhere to nowhere; or we may, if impervious to fatigue, follow the beach all the way to Selsey Bill. The settlement is easily approached from Chichester and the South Coast line by the Selsey Tramway (8 miles). The charm of the place, which consists in a great measure in its air of remoteness, is likely to be soon destroyed. Pleasant bungalows, of a more solid type than usual, are springing up everywhere between the railway and the Bill, though here we may still stand on the blunt-nosed end of Sussex and watch the sun rise or set in the sea.
It would be interesting to know if the quality of the buildings erected will enable them to last until the sea eventually disposes of Selsey. The encroachment of the waves, especially on the eastern side of the Bill, has been more rapid than on any other part of the coast, except perhaps certain parts of Norfolk. The sea immediately east of Selsey is called the "Park"; this was actually a deer-park no longer ago than Tudor times and in Camden's day the foundations of Selsey Cathedral could be seen at low water.
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