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Selsey (West Sussex)

Selsey shown within West Sussex
Population 9,875
OS grid reference SZ854935
District Chichester
Shire county West Sussex
Region South East
Constituent country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Police Sussex
Fire West Sussex
Ambulance South East Coast
European Parliament South East England
UK Parliament Chichester
List of places: UKEnglandWest Sussex

Coordinates: 50°44'06?N 0°47'23?W? / ?50.73502, -0.78977

Selsey is a seaside town and civil parish, about 7 miles (11 kilometres) south of Chichester, in the Chichester District of West Sussex, England. Notable residents of Selsey include Sir Patrick Moore (1968-present).

Selsey lies at the southernmost point of the Manhood Peninsula, a small island almost cut off from mainland Sussex by the sea. It is bounded to the west by Bracklesham Bay, to the north by Broad Rife (rife being the local word for stream or creek), to the east by Pagham Harbour and terminates in the south at Selsey Bill. There are significant rock formations beneath the sea off both of its coasts, named the Owers rocks and Mixon rocks.

There is one road in and out of the town - which briefly becomes a bridge at a point known as "the ferry", crossing the water inlet at Pagham Harbour (a part of Bognor). The term ferry is used because at the bridge point there was at one time a ferryman who took people across to the island.


[edit] Early history, prior to inundation

Today, nearby Chichester itself stands on the foundations of the Romano-British urban settlement of Noviomagus Reginorum, which translates to "New Market of the Kingdom". It has been hypothesised that this settlement name recalls it having developed with an (older) market/port settlement at Selsey, similar in status to the pre-Roman urban centre at Hengistbury Head near Christchurch. The existence of a viable Saxon port on the site supports the idea, but the submerged location makes investigation difficult.

It is believed that in the Iron Age, local networks of harbours and islands along the Solent coast (which the Romans later christened Magnus Portus in their geographies) were pivotal to the efficient economy seen at Hengistbury - the first urban site in Britain - and that Selsey might also have partaken in this.

Selsey was the capital of the South Saxons' kingdom, founded by Ella, who set up his headquarters on the peninsula. Wilfrid arrived circa 680 and converted the kingdom to Christianity, as recorded by the Venerable Bede. Selsey Abbey stood at Selsey, and was the cathedra for the Sussex diocese until this was moved to Chichester in 1075, around which time what is believed to have been a sizeable settlement was abandoned to the encroachment of the sea.

[edit] Today

Coastal erosion at West Beach
Coastal erosion at West Beach

This erosion has continued ever since, and the area remains low-lying and vulnerable to flooding, frustrating homeowners in the area, many of whom bought houses without being aware of the area's history. Local groups now lobby for greater flood prevention, but many wonder at the wisdom of investing in such a known-vulnerable stretch of land.

The modern name Selsey is derived from "Seal Island", and until as recently as the 1930s the town's name was variable, also being spelt Selsea.

Its primary economic background until the mid 19th century was fishing trade, but this was equalled in significance by the development of tourism in the town, and during much of the 20th century, visiting holidaymakers (referred to as "grockles" by the locals) doubled the population.

The rise of international travel has led to a slowing of the tourist trade, but Selsey still has a significant leisure industry centred around the many caravan parks in the area.

Selsey has two significant achievements: the B2145 road into the town is the busiest B-road in the UK[citation needed], and the West Sands Caravan Park is the largest such park in Europe[citation needed]. The caravan park was hit by the severe storms on Monday 10th March 2008 and several hundred caravans were damaged beyond repair with many more suffering flood damage, which has caused the park to be completely closed to holidaymakers for several weeks.

A further 'achievement' Selsey can lay claim to is experiencing the highest occurrence of tornadoes on the mainland UK[citation needed].

The town was the seat of a diocese until 1075 - see Bishops of Selsey - and more recently saw the foundation of the International Bognor Birdman event.

In July 2007, a controversial sculpture was placed at the entrance to the town[1]. The sculpture, based on the woodblock print of a tsunami called The Great Wave off Kanagawa, has irked local residents on account of its cost, content (see reference) and artistic representation. In particular, a smaller wave can be seen apparently travelling in the opposite direction to the main wave, which is not likely to happen in reality and is a feature not present in the original print.

[edit] Selsey Cricket Club

Selsey Cricket Club was founded in 1834 and is one of England's oldest cricket clubs, although references to cricket in Selsey were made prior to then. In 1647, a fatality was recorded at Selsey, when a fielder called Henry Brand was hit on the head by a batsman trying to hit the ball a second time.[citation needed]

The most famous member is the B.B.C. astronomer Sir Patrick Moore, C.B.E. Sir Patrick was a former Club Secretary, and an active playing member, and is now an Honorary Life Vice President.

A former President of Selsey Cricket Club was Hubert Doggart, O.B.E., MA. He was the son of the sportsman Graham Doggart who rose to chair the Football Association.

Doggart fils represented England in two Test matches in 1950. He was President of the MCC (1981-1982), the Cricket Council (1981-1982) and the Cricket Society (1983-1998), and he chaired the Friends of Arundel Castle Cricket Club (1993-2003). In the 1970's he played occasionally for Selsey CC.

Selsey Cricket Club has at present two Saturday and two Sunday sides, plus an active Junior section. Selsey plays in the Sussex Invitation League.

On the 6th of February, 1974, Selsey Cricket Club were amongst the guests on Patrick Moore's instalment of This is your life. At that time, Eamonn Andrews was the presenter of the programme, produced by Thames Television for ITV.

The website of the Club is * Selsey Cricket Club.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. , Revealed: Selsey's new £60,000 sculpture, Chichester Observer, July 2007

(Source: Wikipedia)
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