A coastal village steeped in history
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.
Selsey’s fishing industry has always been at the heart of the town. Home to one of the few remaining fishing fleets on the south coast, which provide fish and seafood to leading London restaurants.
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.
Where to stay
Selsey is home the Bunns Leisure, a holiday park right on the coast. There are also a wide variety of bed and breakfasts and holiday lets in the area. Use our accommodation pages to find places to stay in Selsey.
Explore the Manhood Peninsular with a walk from Pagham to Selsey Bill to East Witterings. A beautiful walk that affords beautiful views of the seacapes of the Manhood Peninsula walking from Pagham to Selsey to East Wittering.
What to see
The natural landscape is a sight to see! But don't forget to visit the Selsey Bill Lifeboat station on your trip. Today's lifeboat station at Selsey operates an all weather Tyne class lifeboat (AWL 47-031 'Voluntary Worker') and a D class inshore lifeboat (ILB D691 'Betty and Thomas Moore'). Over its 150-year History the Crew have been presented with 10 awards for gallantry.
Selsey Lifeboat Station is open to the public throughout the year, (subject to operational requirements), and visitors are welcome. Opening hours for the boathouse are Monday-Friday 0900-1700hrs (closed for lunch 1300-1400hrs) and Saturday-Sunday 1000-1600hrs (closed for lunch 1200-1400hrs). Visits by organised groups are also welcome by arrangement. We are also pleased to visit other organisations to give explanatory talks about the purpose, operation, and the future of the RNLI. To arrange a visit by, or to, your organisation, please contact the Station Education and Visits Officer, Mike Cole, on 01243 265267.
Find out more about the Selsey Lifeboat Station.
Main photo credit: Coastal JJ