Bosham sale: Guinness family connection and earlier history

Bosham Quay. Picture: Steve Robards SR1735995
Bosham Quay. Picture: Steve Robards SR1735995

The new owner of land at Bosham and Chichester Harbour will automatically becomes Lord of the Manor.

The site is closely-linked with the world-famous Guinness family, which has a long affection for the area. Since the early 1920s, various family members have either lived or spent much of their summer holiday time in Bosham.

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The freehold has been owned by members of the Guinness family since the late 2nd Earl of Iveagh acquired The Manor back in the 1920s.

At that time, both he and other members of the family were keen yachtsmen and regularly sailed their own boats in Chichester Harbour and the Solent, generating strong local connections.

In 1976 the estate was transferred to the Burhill Group, which has since entered a long term agreement with the Chichester Harbour Conservancy for the management of the moorings and, more recently, the day-to-day management of Bosham Quay.

The Lordship is owned by Manor of Bosham Ltd, another Burhill Company.

The Burhill Group has instructed property consultancy Vail Williams LLP to sell the Lordship of the Manor of Bosham and the property interests that were previously part of the ancient Manor of Bosham.

Ian Froome, a Vail Williams partner who specialises in marine and leisure markets, said: “Manors are of ancient origin dating before Norman times. The owner is entitled to refer to themselves as Lord of the Manor and they can use it on any legal or personal documents.”

Vail Williams has detailed the history of Bosham and the Manor of Bosham alongside news of the sale of the freehold estate, which includes Bosham Quay and the Old Mill, now the home of Bosham Sailing Club, together with other associated property linked to the sailing club.

Although there is no solid evidence, there is believed to have been a Roman settlement at Bosham – possibly a residence maintained by Emperor Vespasian (69-79AD). A number of Roman buildings, including a possible temple, theatre, various mosaics have been found in North Bosham.

Bosham is believed to be one of the oldest and continuously consecrated Christian sites in Sussex and certainly since 681AD, when Saint Bede notes in his book The Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation, that Wilfrid (later Saint Wilfrid) came across a small monastery run by an Irish Monk known as Dicul along with five others.

The original church was built in Bosham around 850, which stood until the 10th century, when it was replaced with The Holy Trinity Church, which still stands and serves the Parish of Bosham today.

In the 11th century, it was at Bosham, a green peninsula which projects into Chichester Harbour, where King Canute apparently demonstrated to his obsequious courtiers that not even a king can turn back the invincible tide.

Legend also has it, that the King’s daughter drowned in the Mill Stream which runs alongside of the church and was subsequently buried within the church. This appears to be corroborated when a child’s skeleton and coffin believed to date from around the correct era was exhumed in the nave in 1865.

There is speculation that King Harold was buried in the local Saxon church, having been killed in the Battle of Hastings of 1066. Indeed, the village is mentioned by name in the famous Bayeux Tapestry, with Harold, Earl of the English, riding with his knights to Bosham church before sailing to Normandy.

However, this remains unproven as a request to undertake research on the burial chamber in 2004 was denied for fear that the chances of identification of the body were too slim to warrant the disturbance of a burial place.

The medieval village of Bosham was listed in the 11th Century Domesday Book as one of the wealthiest manors in England and is pronounced Bozam.

It was then in the possession of the Osbern, Bishop of Exeter, who is believed to have been granted it by Edward the Confessor. It extended to a total of 112 Hides, roughly 13,000 acres, in different parts of the country.

The full title of what has become known as the Manor of Bosham is Hundred and Manor of Bosham and Chidham and Manor of Bosham Buckfold. It is not clear when the Hundreds and Manorial titles amalgamated but The Lordship of the Hundreds now runs with the Lordship of the Manor of Bosham.

The last Court of the Hundreds of Bosham was held in 1914 by Tithing-men who presented small dues and were in turn rewarded for their attendance with a hearty dinner.

Since the time of the Domesday book, different parts of the Manor have been sold off, and have been held in various hands including William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke and

Richard Bigod, Earl of Norfolk. The Manor and Hundred were bought by the late 2nd Earl of Iveagh in the 1920s.

The Manor is no longer directly connected with any land ownership, the freehold title to the land having been registered by the Burhill Group. The title of the Lordship of the Manor of Bosham is now, therefore a purely ceremonial title.

More details about the sale and the process can be obtained from Ian Froome, Partner, Vail Williams LLP, email ifroome@vailwilliams.com, telephone 02392 203200 or at www.vailwilliams.com