Bosham seen across Chichester Harbour
Bosham shown within West Sussex
|Area||13.75 km2 (5.31 sq mi) |
|Population||2,900  2011 Census|
|– density||210/km2 (540/sq mi)|
|OS grid reference|
|– London||57 miles (92 km) NE|
|Shire county||West Sussex|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Ambulance||South East Coast|
|EU Parliament||South East England|
The parish has an area of 3,400 acres (1,400 ha). In the 2001 census 2,847 people lived in 1,313 households, of whom 1,358 were economically active.
Bosham is colloquially divided into two halves: Bosham village and North Bosham better known as Broadbridge. North Bosham (Broadbridge) constitutes the more developed northern half of the village, situated around the A259 road and the railway line. The village is served by Bosham railway station which situated in Broadbridge. North or New Bosham is increasingly referred to by its original name, Broadbridge. Bosham village includes the remaining geographical protrusion to the south. This includes the site of the original village around Bosham Harbour, as well as the tracts of farmland and private property of Bosham Hoe. At high tide the sea comes right into the old village, flooding the lower road and several car parking spaces.
Forming a part of Chichester Harbour, Bosham is renowned for its sailing with Bosham Sailing Club being formed in 1907.
The site has been inhabited since Roman times, and is close to the famous villa at Fishbourne. The Romans were responsible for the village's Mill Stream as there was no fresh water, and built a basilica there. Tradition holds that Emperor Vespasian maintained a residence in Bosham, although there is little evidence of this. There are, however, the remains of a villa popularly thought to belong to Vespasian, at the Stone Wall in the parish. Pottery and tile fragments, of both Roman and early British period, have been discovered in the area, confirming pre-Anglo-Saxon activity.
Anglo-Saxon and Norman periods
Much of Bosham's history during the Early Middle Ages is ecclesiastical. Bede mentions Bosham in his book The Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation, speaking of Wilfrid's visit here in 681 when he encountered a Celtic monk, Dicul, and five disciples in a small monastery. The village is one of only five places that appear on the map attached to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle of around this time.
In 850, the original village church was built on the site of the Roman basilica, and in the tenth century was replaced with Holy Trinity Church, situated beside Bosham Quay, that still serves as the local place of worship. There is a tradition that a daughter of Canute the Great drowned in a nearby brook and was buried here, although there seems to be little evidence for this. The tradition was originally linked to a fourteenth- or fifteenth-century effigy. In 1865 a coffin containing a child's skeleton was discovered, buried in the nave in front of what is now the chancel of Holy Trinity Church. This was thought to be Canute's daughter.
Canute had a palace in the village, probably where the Manor House now stands, or possibly at the harbour's edge. Legend has it that Bosham was the site at which he commanded the waves to "go back", so as to demonstrate to his overly deferential courtiers the limits of a King's powers.
There is a legend that around this time Bosham Church was plundered by Danish pirates, who stole the tenor bell. As the pirate ship sailed away, the remaining church bells were rung. The tenor bell miraculously joined in, destroying the ship. The bell is still said to ring beneath the waters whenever the other bells are rung.
Bosham is mentioned by name in the Bayeux Tapestry, referring to the 1064 meeting of Harold and Edward the Confessor on the way to meet William of Normandy to discuss who would succeed Edward to the throne:
- "Ubi Harold Dux Anglorum et sui milites equitant ad Bosham ecclesia[m]"
- (Where Harold, Earl of the English, and his army ride to Bosham church)
Harold's strong association with Bosham and the recent discovery of a Saxon grave in the church has led some historians to speculate that King Harold was buried here following his death at the Battle of Hastings, rather than Waltham Abbey as is often reported. The speculation began in 1954, when the nave was re-paved, and the body of King Canute's reputed daughter was re-examined. It was discovered that the body of a richly dressed man was buried beside the child's. A request to exhume the grave in Bosham church was refused by the Diocese of Chichester in December 2004, the Chancellor ruling that the chances of establishing the identity of the body as that of Harold II were too slim to justify disturbing a burial place.
The Domesday Book (1086) lists Bosham as one of the wealthiest manors in England. It included the nearby village of Chidham. Bosham was confirmed to be in the possession of Osbern, Bishop of Exeter, who had been granted the land by his kinsman, Edward the Confessor. It possessed 112 hides (c. 13,000 acres) in different parts of the country.
Chichester Harbour, a Site of Special Scientific Interest is partly within the parish. This is a wetland of international importance, a Special Protection Area for wild birds and a Special Area of Conservation. The harbour is of particular importance for wintering wildfowl and waders of which five species reach numbers which are internationally important.
The Holy Trinity Church is an historic building of some note - it has been in existence at least since Anglo-Saxon times, and is mentioned in the Domesday Book. It has been dedicated to the Holy Trinity since the early part of the 14th century; its previous dedication is not known. Much of the building retains its original Saxon architecture, dating from about the late 800's. The tower houses an original Saxon window. There is also a 13th-century crypt, which is speculated to have been a charnel house used to harbour the bones of those from the collegiate church nearby.
Bosham Football Club was founded in 1901. They were one of the founding members of the Sussex County League Division Three in 1983. Bosham have won the Division Three title on three occasions - and finished runner-up once - earning promotion to Division Two, with their highest finishes being 7th place in 1985/86 and 1994/95 seasons. This period also saw the club take part in the FA Vase. In 2012, the club were demoted into the West Sussex League on ground grading issues, and now play in the League's Premier Division. Also known as 'The Robins', the team play their home fixtures at Bosham's local recreation ground on Walton Lane. The club also operates a reserve side, and youth team - known as the 'Bosham Cygnets', composed of local youngsters.
Bosham Cygnets is a youth football team who currently compete at both Under 15 and Under 18 level - where the club has two sides - in the Arun & Chichester Youth League. The club play their fixtures on a Sunday. Over the years, the Cygnets have been renowned for encouraging young footballing talent and acted as a feeder for regional Centre of Excellences at local professional Football League clubs, including Portsmouth, Southampton and Brighton & Hove Albion.
- "Bosham Parish". Chichester District Council. Retrieved 4 April 2014.
- Marwood, G W (1995). The Story of Holy Trinity Church. Chichester: Selsey Press, Ltd. pp. 3–15.
- Discussed in 'Bosham', A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 4: The Rape of Chichester (1953)
- Account of discovery in The Gentleman's Magazine, 1865 (page 435 onwards).
- Poem about the death of Canute's daughter.
- ""The Bosham Bell"". Bosham Tower. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
- In re Holy Trinity, Bosham  Fam 124 - decision of the Chichester Consistory Court regarding opening King Harold's supposed grave.
- "King's grave mystery may be unearthed". BBC News. 2003-11-24. Retrieved 2013-10-04.
- "SSSI Citation — Chichester Harbour" (PDF). Natural England. Retrieved 7 April 2009.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bosham.|
- Bosham village
- Chichester Harbour Online
- Bosham Football Club on the Sussex County Football Directory