The Seal has been proud to be part of the Selsey community for over 40 years.
Selsey is a seaside town located just eight miles south of the cathedral city of Chichester, West Sussex. It is one of the south coast’s best loved beach resorts attracting visitors from around the country and beyond during holiday periods in particular, who are drawn by its relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere, and the almost inexhaustible list of things to do in the local area. Of course, one can’t forget that some of the best sunshine in the UK can be found here too.
Selsey and the Manhood Peninsula on which it lies have been inhabited since the Stone Age and its name takes its roots from the Saxon Seals-ey, or literally, “The isle of seals”. Over the centuries, it has also been known as Seoles, and was referred to in the Domesday Book of 1086 A.D. as Selesei, and in the medieval period, Celesye.
After the Roman retreat from Britain, it became the capital of the South Saxon kingdom, which converted to Christianity around 680 A.D.
The local abbey was the principal church of the Sussex Diocese until the Norman Conquest, and in 1075 A.D. this status was transferred to neighbouring Chichester with its recently built cathedral.
A strong connection with the sea
Selsey’s relationship with the sea is as old as the town itself, and has become an integral part of its history, character and economy.
Traditionally, the town has fished to feed itself and for profit in the waters that surround it, and local shellfish such as crab and lobster are renowned far and wide for their excellent taste and quality (we always try to have seafood from the area on our restaurant menu so guests can see what all the fuss is about!). The foodies out there have long known that British lobsters are non plus ultra of the crustacean world; their harder shells make for some seriously intense flavour when used in soups and stocks, and we certainly wouldn’t argue with that. If you take a walk along the seafront, you’ll come across numerous fishing boats and stalls selling this most delicious of aquatic produce, and best of all, you can always count on the fact it would be hard to find fresher elsewhere.
The sea has also brought a degree of drama to Selsey; in the summer of 1588, Sir Francis Drake’s men attempted to lure the Spanish Armada onto rocks just beyond the town, but were unsuccessful when the admiral of this gargantuan invasion fleet spotted the imminent danger and changed course for France instead.
Selsey’s remote location and proximity to the sea made it a destination of choice for smugglers in the 1700’s. Contraband of all kinds was shipped in from abroad and then spririted away in the dead of night, and legends abound of secret passageways and illicit activities taking place under the cover of darkness and away from prying eyes.
In recent times, the coast has become a much safer place through the vigilance and unbridled heroism of the lifeboat crews that have been based here since 1861, and visitors will see the distinctive RNLI boat house at East Beach.
I drive up to Muswell Hill, I’ve even been to Selsey Bill …
Today, Selsey is a justifiably popular place, and has been a favourite residence of world-class astronomers (the late, and truly great Sir Patrick Moore), artists, composers and writers. Selsey stands as living proof that the sea’s beauty and majesty continues to inspire and amaze. We suspect it always will.
We look forward to welcoming you in Selsey soon.
Niko and the team at The Seal