Set within the estuaries’ channels it offers good protection in most conditions. Chichester Harbour's channels are well marked and maintained making access straightforward in most conditions. The channel leading up to the quay is however unlit and is best accessed on the top of tide.
Keyfacts for Bosham
Summary* Restrictions applyA completely protected location with straightforward access.
Position and approaches
Haven position50° 49.678' N, 000° 51.670' W
This is the south-western corner of Bosham Quay.
What are the key points of the approach?
Not what you need?
- Itchenor - 1.2 nautical miles S
- Chalkdock Point - 1.3 nautical miles SSW
- Dell Quay - 1.8 nautical miles ESE
- Birdham Pool Marina - 1.9 nautical miles SE
- Chichester Marina - 1.9 nautical miles SE
- Thornham Marina - 2.1 nautical miles WNW
- Pilsey Island - 2.3 nautical miles SW
- Emsworth Yacht Harbour - 2.9 nautical miles WNW
- East Head - 3 nautical miles SW
- Emsworth - 3.1 nautical miles WNW
How to get in?
Bosham is situated on a broad peninsula that projects into the northeast section of Chichester Harbour. It is located about a three miles up the Chichester Channel, that stretches north-westward up through the harbour, and is accessed by branching off into the Bosham Channel. From there it is a about a mile to the quay.
The Bosham Channel has a port hand red buoy off Cobnor Point and the Deep End South Cardinal Beacon on the eastern side of the entrance. The channel runs northwards first then tends northeast and is marked with red and green withies. The best water is to be found between the lines of private swinging moorings on either side of the channel. Expect a depth of about 3 metres in the entrance to the channel and for this to drop off to 2 metres chart datum about 400 metres out from the quay. After this it dries at low water.
Bosham Quay will be seen on the starboard side of the channel with the traditional fisherman's shed, known as the Raptackle, near its head. A line of newly replaced wooden breakwater piles stand about 20 metres in front of it. On the end of the breakwater there are a pair of west cardinal piles. One being the outermost pile and the latter an old beacon that is expected to be decommissioned. A south cardinal pile will be seen 60 metres off the end of the Quay. This marks the head of the dinghy slip that extends out from the head of the pier making an underwater danger in its decent.
Continue up the channel until the quay, lined with wooden pilings itself, and the wooden breakwater piles open up. Steer into the quay passing about 4 metres to port of the south cardinal marking the path of the slipway. Watch out for cross currents and especially a Spring flood that can carry a vessel onto the slipway.
The quay dries to 2 metres chart datum. However it has a depths of 3 metres alongside at high water and easily accommodates vessels drawing up to 2 metres. The ideal time to approach and come alongside is high water plus or minus two hours. Vessels of all sizes and shape are readily accommodated alongside.
The first and longer southward facing section of the quay has a soft mud bottom. The inner eastern end, or southwestern facing section, has a purpose built concrete grid specifically designed to fit about three 10 metre yachts or fewer larger vessels dependant on size. The latter is better suited for anyone who would like to have a look at the bottom whilst alongside.
Swinging moorings are also available from the Quaymaster Michael McGrail. It is always worthwhile to contact the Quaymaster in advance as he is happy to reserve a space and provide advice. P: +441243 573336 e: firstname.lastname@example.org
Why visit here?Bosham derives its name from the conjunction of the name Bésa and hamm. This name means ‘homestead or promontory of a man called Bésa’. This has very slightly softened through the centuries and was first recorded as Bosanham in Bede’s ‘Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum’ and Boseham in the 1086 Doomsaday Book. At this time it was home to England’s Saxon Kings and listed as one of the wealthiest manors in England. Its current ‘Bosham’ is locally pronounced "Bozzum".
Bosham is steeped in history and mythology. The site has been inhabited since Roman times, and is close to the famous villa at Fishbourne. Remains of a villa as well as a large stone head of an emperor, from a statue that would have stood 3 metres tall, have been found here. The villa is thought to have been a residence maintained by Emperor Vespasian, Roman Emperor from AD 69 to AD 79. The village's Mill Stream and a basilica where also built by the Romans. In 670AD an Irish monk named Dicul, along with 5 brothers, set up a small monastery in the basilica’s ruins. The original village church was then built on the site in 850. This in turn was replaced in the tenth century by what has become the Holy Trinity Church that overlooks Bosham Quay today. In about 1000AD the Vikings invaded and carried away the churches tenor bell. They lost it overboard in the Bosham Channel in what is now called the 'bell hole'.
King Canute, who lived in a palace near where the Manor House now stands, brought these raids to an end. His name is popularly invoked in the context of the legendary story of King Canute and the waves. Cnut the Great (985 or 995 to 1035), more commonly known as Canute, was a king of Denmark, England, Norway and parts of Sweden, together often referred to as the Anglo-Scandinavian or North Sea Empire. He ruled England for nineteen years and his legacy has been largely lost to history. Many believe him be the most effective Anglo-Saxon king although an Anglo-Scandinavian himself. The protection he lent England against Viking raiders, many of them under his command, restored the country to prosperity. In turn his English resources helped him to establish control of the majority of Scandinavia.
Legend has it that Bosham was the site at which he sat in a chair and commanded the waves to "go back". His intention being to demonstrate to his overly deferential courtiers the limits of a King's powers. There is probably more to this story when seen in its proper Bosham context. It is believed that at the time a dyke had been built across the harbour just above Bosham Quay that was used to reclaim agricultural land. The Saxon word for dyke was char and earthen banks constructed as sea defences were called chairs. The Bosham bank would have been entirely open to the prevailing south-westerlies and with a storm riding a spring tide it would be in jeopardy. It is all too easy to conceive a panicked local community taking King Canute to the banks in this event. Once there, imploring him to use his powers to forestall what he would see as the inevitable. Reclamation lessons were not learned and there was another attempt to enclose the north part of the Bosham Channel with an embankment in 1815. The reclaimed land was planted with corn, but in the winter of 1825 a combination of a high tide and a storm breached the wall and the sea regained its old territory once again.
Bosham was likewise King Harold's home village and it was from here that he sailed out on his ill-fated voyage to France in 1064. There is much speculation about this voyage but in the event Harold’s vessel came ashore in Normandy. He was taken captive and eventually found his way to William the Conquer who presented him with weapons and armament. Harold then accompanied William to battle in which he fought so valiantly that William knighted him. It was upon this event that the destiny of England would turn.
Upon being knighted Harold apparently swore an oath upon sacred relics to William to support his claim to the English throne. William seems to have believed he had been offered succession to the throne. But when King Edward the Confessor died in January 1066 Harold took the crown for himself. The Normans were quick to point out that in accepting the crown of England, Harold had broken this alleged oath. Building a case on treachery William rounded up the support he needed to construct 700 warships and transports for an invasion. This would lead to Harold’s death at the Battle of Hastings, fought on 14 October 1066 and the culmination of William's conquest of England.
Bosham Church is depicted on the Bayeaux Tapestry along with the history of the Battle of Hastings. Harold is seen riding to Bosham with his retinue, praying in Bosham Church, feasting in his manor house before embarking on the voyage to Normandy. In the aftermath of the conquest William kept a manor in Bosham. It was the only one in the whole of Sussex that he kept in his hands. Harold's strong association with Bosham and the recent discovery of a Saxon grave in the church has led some historians to speculate that he was buried here following his death at the Battle of Hastings, rather than Waltham Abbey as is often reported.
Today Bosham is one of the prettiest harbour villages one can encounter in England and a thriving centre for sailing. It combines a beautiful setting next to Chichester Harbour with several touchstones of English History. The centrepiece has to be the Holy Trinity Church that can be visited today.
The beautiful little church is today the oldest in England and a touchstone for Bosham’s history as a whole. The tower, the oldest part of the church, manifests the transition of power from the Saxons to the Normans. It was built in four stages, the first three are Saxon and the top stage is Norman. Likewise the chancel arch was built shortly after the Norman Conquest of 1066. In 1865 a stone coffin containing a child's skeleton was discovered within the nave just in front of the chancel arch. This was thought to be King Canute's daughter Gunhilda of Denmark who is reputed to have drowned in the mill stream originally built by the Romans.
Bosham is a harbour not to be missed, except perhaps on weekends when the very popular location can get over run with tourists. Although from a sailing perspective it dries at low water and is best suited to a vessel that can take to the hard, deeper vessels should not be put off. It is little over a mile in the tender from the Chalkdock Point anchorage or Itchenor’s moorings. Alternatively Itchenor ferry runs from the jetty to Ferry Hard at the foot of Smugglers Lane. From there is a wonderful 20 to 30 minute walk either through the forest or around the foreshore at low water. In either case as the village draws close there is a spectacular view of the village to be had from Shore Road.
What facilities are available?Fresh water alongside from a tap plus some electricity capabilities. The quay master provides fender boards that are recommended for any vessel intending on drying out alongside. There is a 2-ton crane on the quay that can be used for lifting masts and engines. The sailing club allows visiting yachtsmen to use its shower and toilet facilities. A pressure washer is provided as part of an all-in scrubbing fee. Launching and landing are available from the slipway extending from the head of the pier at any state of the tide.
Bosham has the usual tourist selection of tea shops, restaurants, and a single pub. The nearest shop for essentials is The Southern Co-operative Mini Supermarket in Delling Lane which is about a 15 to 20 minute walk from the quay. There is a large Tesco supermarket available by bus or taxi at the Fishbourne roundabout.
Any security concerns?Never an issue known to have occurred to a vessel at Bosham.
With thanks to:Bosham Quaymaster Michael McGrail. Photography Michael Harpur.
The late Patrick Macnee shares his Bosham
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