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  • Writer's pictureSim Elliott

Chichester to West Wittering (Chichester Harbour/The Manhood Peninsular) 11.06.21

Updated: Jun 14, 2021

The orange line shows the route I took. I started at Chichester Cathedral at 9.30 and walked down West Gate to Fishbourne. I walked through Fishbourne Meadows, down the east side of the Fishbourne Creek to Dell Quay, from there I walked on to the Chichester Marina, Birdham (with a detour round Birdham pool), on to West Itchenor, then down to West Wittering; a journey of 12 miles. I arrived at West Wittering at 17.00.

The photographs are presented in chronological order.

Text in italics are quotes (sources given)

Why is it called the Manhood Peninsula?

The name comes from a Saxon word. The Saxons were here between the 5th and the 11th centuries (450 to 1066 AD) and originally came from northern Germany. When they settled in England, Sussex became one of their Kingdoms. The Saxons called a group of 100 families a Hundred, and so the area of the Manhood peninsula today was known as the Hundred of Manhood.

The word Manhood itself is from a Saxon word meaning ‘common wood’ or ‘common land’. The common wood was enclosed in 1793, which meant that the shared rights to the land were removed and reallocated to individuals chosen by parliament. The Saxon sub-division of counties into Hundreds, was used right up until the beginning of the 19th century. Our Heritage | Manhood Wildlife and Heritage Group (

Parts of Chichester Harbour are contained within the upper part of the Manhood Peninsular, and forms the western coast of the Manhood Peninsular.

Description of the birds commonly seen in Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The Harbour is an area of deep salt-water channels; bounded by mud banks which are covered twice daily by tides flowing through the narrow entrance. There are sand dunes and shingle near the entrance and much of the shore at the high-tide mark is of shingle. Birds choose to spend all or part of the year here because the conditions suit them - there is abundant food and little pollution or disturbance. Mud uncovered between the tides is the richest source of food. Waders, such as Curlew, Godwits, Redshank and Dunlin, probe with their long beaks in the mud for small marine animals like worms, small shellfish and crabs. The plover family of waders pick their food from the mud surface and Turnstones find theirs under seaweed and pebbles. Shelduck sift the surface of the mud for tiny snails (Hydrobia). Other birds feed on plants growing on the mud; Brent geese and Wigeon eat green algae (Enteromorpha) and Eel grass (Zostera); Coot and Mute Swans are also vegetarians. Others are fish-eaters; they may dive from a height (terns) or from the water surface (grebes, Cormorants and sea ducks like Red-breasted Merganser and Goldeneye) or stand and fish in the shallows (Heron). When the high tide covers the mud flats all mud-feeding birds need somewhere quiet to rest and preen. Waders fly to nearby fields, saltmarsh or high shingle (high tide roosts) while ducks and geese rest on the water surface or ashore. Very few estuarine birds are here all year round. Most are travellers and are either winter visitors (they nest elsewhere and winter here), Passage Migrants (they spend some time here in spring and again in late summer and autumn between their breeding and wintering places) or summer visitors (nesting here, then leaving for their wintering places when their young can fly).

Peregrine Falcon on the spire of Chichester Cathedral, one of a nesting pair. See: Chichester Cathedral Peregrines – Watch the Live Webcam | Chichester Cathedral

The Woolpack, Fishbourne. A 1930s pub celebrating the importance of sheep to the medieval economy of the area: For most of its history, Sussex has been an agricultural county. The Chichester area, with the fertile coastal plain for arable and the Downs for sheep and cattle grazing, has long been one of the richest in agricultural terms. Just as the medieval sea trades were based on wool, Chichester Harbour’s sea trade from the 17th to the early 19th centuries was based in one way or another on grain, much of it transported around the English coast by coastal shipping. | Maritime History (

Fishbourne Meadows

Fishbourne Meadows is an area of low-lying damp meadow next to the harbour at the top of Fishbourne channel. It has never been ploughed so it has a wide range of plant and insect species. Freshwater streams flow through the meadow keeping the area moist. It is bordere

d by areas of woodland in places, with species that like damp conditions such as willow and alder. The wetter parts of the meadow contain plants such as rushes. There is also a colony of rare Southern Marsh Orchids which put up beautiful spikes of purple flowers in June.

Southern Marsh Orchids

A Kestrel flying above the Meadows

A flying Mute Swan at the top of Fishbourne Creek; I counted 115 Mute Swans at this location/

A Black-headed Gull in flight. There were many Black-Headed Gulls everywhere in Chichester Harbour area; as there have been when I visited the Pannel Valley, Rye Harbour, Pagham, Harbour and Medmerry this week. There were 3,409 Black-Headed Gulls counted in Chichester Harbour for the British Trust for Ornithology Wetland Bird Survey 2019-2020 Frost, T.M., Calbrade, N.A., Birtles, G.A., Hall, C., Robinson, A.E., Wotton, S.R., Balmer, D.E. and Austin, G.E. 2021. Waterbirds in the UK 2019/20: The Wetland Bird Survey. BTO/RSPB/JNCC. Thetford.

Great Black-Backed Gulls. There were 21 Black-Headed Gulls counted in Chichester Harbour for the British Trust for Ornithology Wetland Bird Survey 2019-2020 ibid.

A Little Egret. There were 136 Little Egret counted in Chichester Harbour for the British Trust for Ornithology Wetland Bird Survey 2019-2020 ibid.

Some of the 115 Swans I counted on Fishbourne Creek. There were 244 Mute Swans counted in Chichester Harbour for the British Trust for Ornithology Wetland Bird Survey 2019-2020 ibid; so this represents approximately a half of all the Mute Swans in the whole Chichester Harbour area.

An Oystercatcher at Dell Quay this is one of 1218 Oystercatchers counted in Chichester Harbour for the British Trust for Ornithology Wetland Bird Survey 2019-2020 ibid.

The oystercatcher is a large, stocky, black and white wading bird. It has a long, orange-red bill and reddish-pink legs. In flight it shows a wide, white wing-stripe, a black tail and a white rump that extends as a 'V' between the wings. Because it eats cockles, the population is vulnerable if cockle beds are overexploited. They breed on almost all UK coasts. During the last 50 years, more birds have started breeding inland. Most UK birds spend the winter on the coast where they are joined on the east coast by birds from Norway. Oystercatcher Bird Facts | Haematopus Ostralegus - The RSPB

Juvenile Starling. I saw seen many juvenile Starlings over the last few weeks, with large flocks observed in the afternoons at Rye Harbour and Medmerry.

Dell Quay

In Roman times the harbour was navigable all the way to Fishbourne, and Roman galleys may have sailed right up to the Fishbourne Palace. Sea levels in the harbour were higher in the Middle Ages than they are now, and there are records of losses of land to the sea. The Great Flood of Apuldram occurred in 1274, following which additional sea walls and sluices were installed. The former existence of a tide mill on the River Lavant near Apuldram Common is an indication of the level of the sea at that time at the northern boundary of the parish.

The landing place was moved down channel owing to silting of the upper reaches, and for a time there was access to the harbour a little to the south of the mouth of the Lavant. Here there was a sunken channel, now dry, which led to the centre of the medieval Apuldram village. There is also evidence of a landing place at La Delle. A rent list, dated 1432, records a villein whose duties included "to cart from La Delle to Chichester".Exports in the 14th and 15th centuries were mainly wool and cloth.

The wharf at Dell Quay was built in the 16th century on the orders of Lord Fitzwilliam of Cowdray, Lord High Admiral from 1536 to 1540 and in 1580 it was written that the wharf had been "longe sythens buylded by the Lord Fitzwilliam". The quay was at that time the only official landing place for the Port of Chichester, which in the 14th century was rated the 7th in importance in all England.

At that time there were no warehouses at Dell Quay and no inn. The citizens of Chichester gave this as a reason for asking permission to dig a canal from the quay to the town. Permission was granted but with a condition that the canal must not cut through lands belonging to 'the Baron' (Howard of Effingham), and this made the scheme impractical. Instead, the picturesque Crown & Anchor Inn was built at the end of the 16th century and seems to have been called initially 'Dell Key House' (not to be confused with the present Dell Quay House, which incorporates William Tipper's post mill built in the eighteenth century, the subject of paintings by Richard Nibbs and George Lambert). Apuldram - Wikipedia

A Mute Swan in flight at Dell Quay

A House Sparrow at Dell Quay

A Moorhen at Dell Quay

Boats on The Fishbourne Creek

Tress dying due to salt water

Dell Quay; ruined boat.

Blackbird, Dell Quay

Another Kestrel, on the Way to Chichester Marina

A lost Rabbit at Chichester Marina

Fence at Chichester Marina, [possibly a Blackcap

Birdham Pool

A Cormorant on Birdham Pool. 137 Cormorants were counted in Chichester Harbour for the British Trust for Ornithology Wetland Bird Survey 2019-2020 ibid.

Swans with their brood of Cygnets on Birdham Pool

Cormorant and a Male Tufted Duck. There were 65 Tufted Ducks counted in Chichester Harbour for the British Trust for Ornithology Wetland Bird Survey 2019-2020 ibid.

A pair of Tufted Ducks

A female Mallard. 415 Mallards were counted in Chichester Harbour for the British Trust for Ornithology Wetland Bird Survey 2019-2020 ibid.

The Swans and their Cygnets

A female Mallard and chicks

A Little Egret in Birdham Pool

A Goldfinch on the areal of a house in West Itchenor. It gets high quality bird food: Properties in Itchenor had an overall average price of £1,308,636 over the last year. House Prices in Itchenor (

A Moorhen in Itchenor Village Pond

West Itchenor's St Nicholas Church

A C13 single-cell church with later windows. The unusual belfry dates from the extensive restoration in 1869.

The church stands on a low mound and consists of a nave and chancel with no division. Most such churches were early, but nothing here is older than the slightly chamfered round-headed south doorway, which has a label with worn lion’s heads as stops. The jambs of the north doorway also remain, under a later window and it is said originally to have been similar to the south one (GM 1803 pt 2 pp813-14). The latter is early C13 and though the lancets have scoinsons, including three stepped east ones, this is likely to be the date of the whole church. A north lancet has been converted into a vestry doorway.

Windows were altered at a later date more than once, but the church was never extended. There is a broad C14 trefoil-headed south lancet and a weathered two-light square-headed west window of c1400. The circular gable-opening is renewed, but the Sharpe Collection drawing (1805) shows a similar one. It also shows a window like the west one on the south side near the east end, of which the position can be made out, which was blocked by 1867 (1 p2). East of the porch is a C16 uncusped square-headed two-light window. The window in the former north doorway is similar but C19. The engraving in GM 1803 shows a doorway in this position, though on a plan of the existing church, submitted to the ICBS before the restoration, it had become a window. There was then a small boarded belfry with a pyramid top and a brick porch that lasted until 1869 and was probably C17 or C18. West Itchenor – St Nicholas – Sussex Parish Churches

A medieval carving in the porch of St Nichola, West Wittering

West Itchenor harbour

Next to West Itchenor was East Itchenor, which has now disappeared, and is believed to be under Westlands farm

East Itchenor, Birdham and West Itchenor can be traced back to Roman times when it was occupied by Icca. In fact the name Itchenor originates from ‘Iccen Ora’ or ‘Icca’s landing place’ which slowly became ‘Itchenor’. By the 13th century, East Itchenor was thriving and was in fact larger than neighbouring Birdham. However, in 1348 when the Black Death swept across England, East Itchenor is thought to have been badly affected by plague and ultimately the cause of the demise of the village. The parish of East Itchenor did continue for a time and was only united with Birdham in 1440.

It was at this time that East Itchenor disappeared as a village and became solely farming land. The section of land where Westlands Farm is situated today was owned by the church, and attached to the Priory of Boxgrove, but after Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries the land was acquired by the Crown and by 1557 had been granted to Sir Richard Sackville. However, seven years later Sackville transferred the estate to the Dean and Chapter of Chichester. Lost medieval village on Chichester Harbour - Country Life

The path from West Itchenor to West Wittering

A Whitethroat

Indian Pokeweed, Phytolacca acinosa

Foxglove, Digitalis purpurea

Shelducks, there were 407 Shelducks counted in Chichester Harbour for the British Trust for Ornithology Wetland Bird Survey 2019-2020 ibid.

The third Kestrel of the day, just before reaching West Wittering

A flock of juvenile Starlings at West Wittering, they were spooked by the squawk of a Back-Headed Gull

Bots at East Head, West Wittering

East Head is the sand dune spit situated at the eastern side of the entrance to Chichester Harbour. It is a stunning example of a natural and dynamic coastal feature which is of great interest to environmentalists and ecologists because of its fragile nature. It is an SSSI (site of special scientific interest) and a Ramsar site (a wetland site of international importance). West Wittering Beach (

A Black-headed Gull in a pool of the sands of East Head

A Little Egret at East Beach

I took the bus back from the quaintly named Old House At Home, bus stop, West Wittering. It's a pub.



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