History of Bosham
'Better have been a fisherman at Bosham, my good Herbert*: Thy birthplace; the sea creek; the pretty rill that falls into it; the green field; the gray church; the simple lobster-basket and the mesh; the more or less of daily labour done .'
* Herbert of Bosham - Secretary to Thomas à Becket.
Thus wrote Alfred, Lord Tennyson, in his 'Becket', after visiting Bosham in 1875. The description still holds true today. Decades ago, there were many such villages along the Sussex coast. Now, Bosham is unique. Twice a day, the tide laps under the windows of the little cottages along the shore. In former times, these were occupied by the local fishermen. A large oyster industry, second only to Whitstable, was enjoyed at Bosham. Oysters were dredged from the Solent and dropped into the Harbour to grow for two or
three years. They were then put into beds, which ran the length of the waterfront, before being taken to market.
Bosham is the oldest Christian site in Sussex. There was a Christian congregation here, 200 years before Augustine landed in Kent. It had a resident monk, Dicul, who came from Ireland, living in a small, rough cell below the church. (This can be visited.)
The Church, dedicated to the Holy Trinity, is thought to have been built on
the site of a Roman Basilica - the bases of the Chancel arch pillars are all that are left of that earlier building. (A villa with a central court built in the reign of Antoninus has been excavated in the grounds of Broadbridge Farm in Delling Lane, along with a marble head, a Roman bath and a small amphitheatre.)
The present building is largely Saxon, the first parts of it being built in the early 11th Century, during the reign of Canute - (He lived at Bosham for a while, and it is strongly believed that his eight year old daughter died here, and is buried in the Church. A skeleton of such a child has been discovered here, and the place is marked with a stone slab, bearing the Danish emblem of a raven.)
The Chancel was built in three stages - the first, in the somewhat untidy stonework of the Saxons, (look at the Tower); followed by the neat herring-bone of the Normans; with the third stage in the Early English style. (The East window of the Chancel is one of the finest examples of this style in the country.