Discover Seaside Selsey
Eight miles south of Chichester, at the southern most point of the district you will find the historic seaside town of Selsey. Today Selsey is a popular seaside town with several beaches but probably most notable for the Selsey Bill which is just west of the life boat station that protects local fisherman in tricky waters.
Selsey’s fishing industry has always been at the heart of the town. My own grandfather grew up on Selsey and helped out on family boats as soon as he was strong enough to haul a net, although he can’t swim to this day!
Selsey Crab is widely accepted as some of the best in the world. Local restaurants and pubs are all keen to promote the provenance of their local suppliers. Lots of the locals still sell directly from the wharf, check out Julie’s hut on the seafront at East Beach. A cup of cockles, a pint of prawns or a fresh crab sandwich, you’ll find it all in Selsey and you know it’s fresh from the boat.
Rich in wildlife, Selsey is a popular destination for twitchers. Pagham harbour is a lovely walk with the chance to spot some rare wading birds. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a seal! Selsey takes is name from the Saxon ‘Seals-way’ which translates to ‘Isle of Sea Claves’ (sea claves are of course better known as seals).
After a walk it’s time for some food and drink. Selsey has some traditional local pubs that offer local beers and a friendly welcome. With a busy fishing heritage, Selsey once had multiple pubs! Today there a fewer but they are still well attended. The Seal is a notable favourite of my family. There are also some new businesses on the scene too, such as The Crab Pot which has received some glowing reviews.
On the very edge of what is know as the manhood peninsular, Selsey was once inaccessible as high tide at the inlet of Pagham harbour and a boat was stationed to ferry people and horses across. With lots of inlets that filled with water at high tide, Selsey was very popular with smugglers including the infamous Hawkhurst Gang, some of which were hung in chains on Selsey Bill. At high water, a raft could quite easily slip onto land without raising suspicion. At Church Norton, on the west of the harbour you can see the remains of a church which was once reputedly linked to the old rectory.
Selsey has lots much of its costal land to the sea in recent years. The Bill (the sea spit) used to extend much further out into the harbour. It’s an ongoing battle that local residents and councils fight to protect the coastline and nature reserves from being taken by the sea.