Tuesday, 18 January 2011

The Pub at Bosham, Sussex

Start at         The Anchor Bleu,
High St, Bosham West Sussex,  PO18 8LS.
Tel: 01243 573956

End at         Highdown Tea Rooms
Littlehampton Rd, Goring By Sea, Worthing, West Sussex BN12 6PF
Tel: 01903 246984

Bosham (pronounced 'Bozzam') is signposted off the A27 about 3 miles west of Chichester. Once in the village, park in the car park, then walk the 100 yards up the High Street to find the Anchor Bleu on the left.

In Bosham you should have a look at the church, about 40 yards further along the High Street from the pub. It is dedicated to the Holy Trinity and is a rare survivor from the Bayeux Tapestry. The church today is mostly of 13th century date, but the chancel and several columns in the nave date back to the time of the Bayeux Tapestry. The church contains two tombs of note. The first is that of a daughter of King Canute. The second is that of Herbert of Bosham, a monk who was with Thomas a Becket when that Archbishop of Canterbury was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170.

According to a local legend, some time around 870 a fleet of Viking ships came into Bosham. The villagers fled, so the Vikings were able to pillage freely but without the customary orgy of rape and killing that went along with it. For some reason they took a fancy to the great bell that hung in the church tower. They hacked it free from its wooden cradle and tossed it down to the ground, then rolled it to their ship and lashed it to the rowing benches. As the Viking fleet put out to sea the villagers returned. The priest began ringing the remaining smaller bell in thanksgiving.

Instantly the great bell tore itself free from its lashings and rang out an answer, then it smashed its way through the Viking ship, drowning the luckless crew. The bell came to rest in a deep spot near the harbour mouth still known as Bell Hole. There it remains. When the bells of the church ring out, the long lost bell answers with a mournful, dull boom.

In 1064 Earl Harold Godwinsson, who owned Bosham and surrounding lands, attended a service here before setting off on a mysterious mission to northern France. Speculation as to what England's most powerful earl was up to has been endless because neither the Bayeux Tapestry nor any written source explains. It is possible that he went to get his younger brother Leofwine who may, or may not, have been in France at the time. Whatever his intentions, Harold ended up as an enforced guest of William, Duke of Normandy. William took the opportunity to demand that Harold took an oath before he was allowed to leave for England. The form of that oath is as disputed as anything else about the visit. William later claimed that the oath bound Harold to support his claim to the throne of England if the then king, Edward the Confessor, should die childless. Harold said that it had been a much more vague protestation of friendship. In 1066 Edward died childless and the English nobles, as was their right, chose Harold to be king in his place. William organised an invasion and ended up facing Harold at the Battle of Hastings - featured in the Battlefields Trail of this book.

Just past the church is a patch of green land named Quay Meadow, now owned by the National Trust. According to legend it was here that King Canute taught his courtiers a lesson by having his throne placed on the beach so that he could command the tide not to come in. Of course the tide continued to come in so that Canute and his men got wet feet -thus proving that he was not as powerful as the flatterers had been saying.

In summer months a small ferry takes foot passengers across Chichester Harbour to West Itchenor. If it is running while you are here it makes for a pleasant trip.

Leave Bosham heading north to join the A27. Turn right toward Chichester. Just past Fishbourne, famous for its Roman Palace, turn right down a lane signposted to Dell Quay. At a T-junction turn right to reach Dell Quay.
An extract from Teashop and Pub Drives in Sussex by Rupert Matthews

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