All posts by Sue Humphrey

Road access to Hayling in the 18th and 19th centuries

compiled by Sue Humphrey from a variety of sources

At the beginning of the 18th century Hayling, according to Butler’s Hundred of Bosmere, was a backward little place; “its farmhouses were old and cold; wages averaged eighteen shillings a month (including perks). The hours of work were, in summer 6am – 5pm, at harvest from dawn to dusk, and in winter from morn till night”. There was little or no contact with the mainland.

What was needed was a reasonable network of roads to service the Island but this was not to happen until the health-giving properties of seawater and ozone were “discovered” in the mid 18th century! Almost overnight, small fishing villages all over the country were transformed into “seaside spas”. Brighton was the largest on the south coast. Hayling attracted the attention of promoters in the early 19th century when a small group led by Sir Richard Hotham planned to convert the island into a resort which would rival all others on the south coast. Before any building could begin, the systems of communication on the Island had to be improved, particularly the roads.

The roads of Hayling had gradually evolved from old cart tracks and were subsequently very winding with numerous bends incorporated into them. Some improvements had been made by the early 19th century but there was nothing so sophisticated as tarmacadam! Neither was there any bridge across to the mainland. How then did islanders use road travel to reach the mainland? In the first place they could walk and many did! You could hire a horse – expensive but practical when one needed to travel long distances, as there were stables and blacksmiths in almost every village in those days. Then there were horse-drawn vehicles of many sorts. Travel from Hayling was limited by the fact that the Wadeway was the only link with the mainland and this limited the size of vehicle using it and also time of travel was limited by the state of the tides.

In the year 1823 an Act of Parliament was passed authorising the building of a bridge across Langstone Harbour and fixing the rate of tolls which could be charged for using it. The bridge was built in double quick time and it was opened in 1824. From that time, access to the Island was assured – especially the possibility of using coaches. The tollkeeper of the first Hayling bridge used to say that it was the loss of two horses by drowning when crossing the Wadeway which gave the final impetus to the proposal to build the bridge. When the preamble to the Act was published however, there was not a word about horses nor the expectations entertained by the promoters of profitable developments to follow the building of a bridge. The preamble reads as follows:

“Whereas for the space of 12 hours out of every 24 there is no direct communication between the mainland and Hayling Island in the County of Southampton (except by boat) owing to the Passage commonly known as the Wadeway, which runs in a very uneven, unequal and circuitous manner from Langstone in the Parish of Havant across Langstone Harbour to Hayling Island aforesaid, being overflowed by the Sea; and whereas, from violence of the winds and sea, the passage, called the Wadeway is frequently covered by the tide the whole twenty four hours together and boats are often totally prevented from crossing the said Harbour, by reason whereof any communication between the mainland and Hayling Island becomes impracticable and great Inconvenience, Difficulty and Loss are thereby occasioned and the lives of his Majesty’s subjects are much endangered”

The Act of 1823 also prohibited any conveyance for hire or reward, by land or sea, within 1000 yards of the bridge; thus putting out of business any commercial cross-channel service not merely to Langstone but to Pook Lane and Bedhampton Quays as well. This ban was greatly resented by Hayling inhabitants who now had to pay a toll in place of their former free passage across the Wadeway!

Once in Havant, travellers could catch coaches to Portsmouth, Brighton, Southampton or London. If a traveller could get to the Bear in Havant by 7.30am he might find room in the Independent Coach, which ran once daily to London. One coach service known as the Queen Coach, was the first to include a stop at Hayling. The Queen Coach could be boarded at the Royal Hotel at 9am every morning except Sundays. It proceeded via Havant, Bedhampton, Cosham and terminated at the Fountain Hotel, Portsmouth. From here, one could either spend the day in Portsmouth, returning to Hayling in the late afternoon, or take a coach to London – the final terminal being the White Bear Inn in Piccadilly. The coach fare from Hayling to London was 24 shillings for an outside seat or 14 shillings for the hardier who could travel outside the coach.

Coaches reflected the traditions and occupations of the region through which they ran. On the Portsmouth road you could choose between “Hero” and “True Blue” or between “Nelson” and “Trafalgar”. Other coach names I have been able to find were “Regulator”, “Rocket”, “Telegraph”, “Defiance” and “Brittania”.

Hayling did not develop into a coastal resort even though transport links were improved. It did, however, over the next century, develop as a holiday resort.

"The bravest of the brave"

compiled by Sue Humphrey (Local History Group 1)

Whilst browsing through my copy of “The King Holds Hayling” the other day, I came across a snippet of information about a former resident of Hayling, Admiral Sir James Startin, KCB, AM, JP. This prompted me to find out more about him. The passage which particularly impressed me was the following:

“One wild September night in 1908 the lifeboat was about to be launched when Coxswain C.H. Cole found that he was a man short and called for a volunteer. The Admiral, who had rushed down to the beach in pyjamas and a mackintosh, jumped in and took an oar.”

I now reproduce a full account of the incident, which I found posted on the Hayling Forum, though I do not have the original source. (It probably comes from Hayling Lifeboat Records as Admiral Startin served on the Hayling Lifeboat Committee. It is entitled “Prompt reply to signals of distress. Admiral on board.”)

“On the 13th October 1910 the “Charlie and Adrian” was launched at 10.20 at night, together with the Southsea, Bembridge, Littlehampton and Selsey lifeboats, when distress signals were reported off the Nab Lightship. The weather was rough with a northeasterly gale blowing, causing a heavy sea. Coxswain Miller was ill, so the Second coxswain Charlie Cole was in charge of the lifeboat. As the lifeboat was being pulled out of the boathouse, Admiral Sir James Startin arrived. He had not long vacated his command of the Home Fleet, and this trip out in the lifeboat this time would be under rather different circumstances. He jumped into the boat and informed Charlie Cole that he wished to be included in the crew. The Coxswain had received instructions after the last time the Admiral had been out on a service, that it was not considered advisable that he should form one of the crew and that a younger man was to be taken. Charlie Cole explained to the Admiral that he had his crew, and that the Institution never allowed supernumerary members on service. Reluctantly Admiral Startin left the boat, which was pulled down to the waters edge, and into the surf that was thundering on the shore. No one thought any more about the Admiral; but not to be outdone, he had gone down into the sea, scantily dressed as he was, and waited until the boat was being launched from her carriage, and at a psychological moment, mounted one of the wheels and jumped into the boat just as she was afloat, every crewman at the time being employed at his respective duty. The lifeboat had a good launch, and the crew being soaked to the skin, as she entered the water in the teeth of the gale which was blowing. Once the Admiral was discovered there was nothing more to be done than to accommodate him, as to turn the boat back would have entailed great delay. Charlie and his crew made for the Nab, which was reached at midnight where the crew were informed that they were repeating signals that had been fired by the Owers lightship asking for assistance.

Feeling that it would be impossible to reach the Owers Lightship before daylight, and knowing that the Selsey lifeboat had been launched, the “Charlie and Adrian” was turned round to return to the shore, but when about a mile from the boathouse the Nab was seen firing rockets again. The boat was put about, and the Nab was visited a second time. This time they were informed that a steamer was requiring assistance, being driven before the wind about ten miles south-west of the Nab. Knowing that it would be impossible to overtake the vessel, Charlie Cole again turned the lifeboat for home returning at 6:00 in the morning having found no vessel. For all this time Admiral Startin only had on his pyjamas and slippers, except for an oilskin that one of the crew had given him. The steamer turned out to be the Naval oil fuel ship “Isla”. She had lost her propeller when off the Nab and signalled for assistance. She was blown before the gale round the back of the Isle of Wight until off the Needles and was met by a tug from Portsmouth Dockyard and towed to safety.”

Admiral Startin and his wife, Alice, lived at Wyndlawn, Hayling Island. The house no longer exists, but from information gleaned from various items posted on the Hayling Forum I feel that it is almost certain that it was located on the south side of Hollow Lane close to where the entrance to Mark Anthony Court is today. It was damaged by bombing in World War 2, and was finally demolished in 1960/61. Wyndlawn, whilst Admiral and Lady Startin lived there, gradually earned the name of “The Fort”. F.G.S. Thomas states: “By the gateposts stood two awe-inspiring 13.5 inch shells, and mounted outside the kitchen was a German 4 inch submarine gun presented to him by the Admiralty in recognition of his successful submarine hunting in the Great War. Other trophies included relics of the Zulu and Benin wars, boarding pikes and a German mine!”

In this grand residence Admiral and Lady Startin raised their four children, three boys and a girl. Their eldest son was killed at Gallipoli. They bought Wyndlawn in 1907 and according to FGS Thomas, they soon became two of the most popular personalities on the Island, immediately becoming involved in all sorts of local affairs. He was made a JP and Assistant Commissioner of Sea Scouts for Hampshire. He founded the Hayling Men’s Brotherhood and was a great friend of the Vicar, the Reverend Charles Clark, and a Church Warden at St. Mary’s. She was equally active in Island affairs until her death in 1923. She was buried in the Churchyard at St. Mary’s. Despite the fact that he lived in Shropshire for much of the time after his second marriage, Admiral Startin always kept his affection for Hayling and it was at his old home, then occupied by his second son, that he died in 1948 at the grand old age of 93. He was buried alongside Alice in the family grave under a yew tree in St. Mary’s Churchyard. The Times headed his obituary notice “The Bravest of the Brave” and this is engraved at the base of the memorial cross above the family grave.

I would like to acknowledge the information in this article, which I gleaned from the Hayling Forum Website and also the information contained, in F.G.S. Thomas’s seminal work “The King Holds Hayling”, Sue.

A history of some of Hayling's older public houses

compiled from various sources by Sue Humphrey

Hayling rejoices in having several old “hostelries”, the oldest of which is claimed to be the “Ferry Boat”, formerly Norfolk Lodge, named for the Dukes of Norfolk who were once Lords of the Manor of South Hayling. It was the only one in existence in 1776 according to F.G.S. Thomas in his book “The King Holds Hayling”. Many of our other Inns were established to forestall the Licensing Law of 1889 which made obtaining a licence more difficult.

The original Norfolk Lodge is now a burnt-out ruin on the Ferry Road, opposite the Hayling Golf Course. In it and its outbuildings are timbers taken from HMS Impregnable which was wrecked within sight of it in 1798. It was always a haunt of watermen who plied their trade on the south-western corner of the Island. The Spraggs family who ran the Hayling Ferry were associated with this Inn for many years. Tradition has it that it was also intimately connected with smuggling, even though the Watch House was only a hundred yards away! The name was changed to “The Ferryboat” in the 1950’s, its close proximity to the Ferry coupled with the popular song of the time “Down at the Ferry Boat Inn” is the suggested reason for the change.

A “Maypole” Inn is said to have existed on the Island since the 18th century, though the predecessor of the present building (built in 1933) was built in 1803. Rural life revolved around the old “Maypole”. Once a year, members of the Maypole Benefit Club used to parade from their room at the Inn wearing their pagan regalia. Led by a brass band they would march to the Church for a special service following which they would return to the pub, bringing the parson with them who would then preside over a splendid dinner accompanied by “a cricket match, quoits, dancing, love-making and beer!”

The Barley Mow has been extensively altered over the years. It began life as two cottages. In White’s directory of 1878 it is listed as a beerhouse with a Mrs. Lucy Pannell as Landlandy. Lucy was still in charge when its famous Thrift Club was formed in 1875, its annual “share out” being one of the highlights of the Hayling Year. The original Barley Mow was in Station Road, now Jaspers. In the 1970’s it was moved to the corner of the same road in what had been a barn of Walters Farm.

YewTree pubThe Yew Tree, which stands on the border of North and South Hayling was once known as “Seamans” when it was a wheelwright’s shop. On this site the farmer brewed beer for his labourers and his family. It probably became an alehouse after the licensing laws were introduced. A macabre aspect of its history is that there was once a mortuary there where the bodies of drowned sailors were laid out after such disasters as the sinking of the Royal George off Spithead. It was bought by George and Douglas Henty the brewers, in 1877 from Ralph Cutler. It was modernised in 1956 when its indispensable car park was added.

Ralph Cutler also sold “The Rose in June” to George and Douglas Henty in 1873. Although the Henty’s demolished the old thatched beerhouse, replacing it with the present square building, they did leave the thatched barn which remained in a commendable state of preservation until it was so recently burned down. A beam in the barn bore the date “1739”. The name was probably taken from a large white rose bush which grew at the back of the original cottage.

The Olive Leaf owes its name to Hayling’s first lifeboat which was donated to the Service by the London company of Thomas Leaf & Sons in 1865. William Goldring, licensed victualler and first Coxwain of the lifeboat bought some 22 rods of land on the Seafront from J.S. Cutler and built the Inn. It is said that there was a race between the Lifeboat and Olive Leaf to see which Inn could complete its buildings and serve its first customer first. Tradition does not tell us which pub won the race.

Hayling Island and the abbey of Jumièges

by Sue Humphrey

Many people who live in Hayling Island are aware that there is a historical link between Hayling and Jumièges Abbey in Normandy, but are perhaps unaware of how that link came about. St. Philibert founded the Abbey of Jumièges in 654 and became its first Abbot. It stands on the north bank of the River Seine, a few miles west of what is now the town of Rouen, but is now a ruin. The Abbey prospered under its second Abbot Saint Archard and by 685 it numbered around 1000 monks. In the 9th century it was pillaged and burned to the ground by Normans but was rebuilt on an even grander scale by William, Duke of Normandy who died in 942. A new church was consecrated in 1067 in the presence of William the Conqueror. This Church of Notre Dame is described as being an exceptional example of 11th century early Romanesque architecture. The Abbey enjoyed the patronage of the Dukes of Normandy and it became a major centre of religion and scholarship in France. It produced many renowned scholars including the historian William of Jumièges whose book “The Deeds of the Dukes of Normandy” was written to demonstrate that William the Conqueror was the rightful King of England. One Abbot, Robert, became Bishop of London in 1044 and Archbishop of Canterbury in 1051 during the reign of Edward the Confessor.

It is not surprising, therefore, that when William the Conqueror took the throne of England he rewarded the Abbey of Jumièges with the grant of many manors in England. One of these manors was the Manor of South Hayling. At the time of the Domesday survey in 1086 “The Abbey of Jumièges held about half of the Island in demesne, with over lordship of the rest by the gift of William I.” But their possession of the Island was strongly disputed by the monks of St. Swithuns at Winchester who based their claim to the Island on a grant from Queen Emma. She is said to have given the manor the monks of Winchester, with eight other manors in her gift, as a thank offering for having passed safely through the “ordeal by fire”. (See my article on the Early History of Hayling Island here). Jumièges, having obtained a grant of so rich a manor, refused to give it up however, and Henry I confirmed Jumièges claim to the manor in 1101. Early in the 12th century Bishop Henry of Blois and the monks of Winchester renounced their right to the manor of South Hayling in favour of Jumièges Abbey at the behest of Pope Innocent.

In 1174 Henry II granted a general charter of confirmation to the Abbey of Jumièges of all their English possessions including “the greater part of Hayling with the church and tithes of the Island.” The monks then founded a large Priory in Hayling (the exact location has never been established) and under the grant of Henry II the monks were allowed “to carry all things from the demesne of the church freely to all parts of England and Normandy.” It seems, therefore, that the produce of the Island was exported to the Abbey in Normandy. Taxation returns for 1291 returned the Prior of Hayling as holding in the Island £20 of rents, agricultural land taxed at £5., a mill taxed at 13s 4d, a dovecote taxed at 4s. a garden at 6s. and the service of villains at 20s, yielding an annual income of £27.3s.4d. At the same time the rectory of Hayling, which was in the hands of the prior, on behalf of the Abbot of Jumièges, was returned at the high annual value of £80, whilst the vicarage was worth £14.6s.8d. Hayling was a very wealthy manor.

But the priory suffered from two causes, war and the encroachment of the sea. In 1294, due to the wars with France, Edward I seized all alien priories which were dependent on Abbeys in Normandy. The prior of Hayling was taken into custody and the goods and chattels of the priory seized. On renewal of hostilities with France under Edward II, the priories, including Hayling were again seized but on this occasion the Prior was granted the right to keep his possessions “in safe custody”. Another misfortune, which befell the priory, was the encroachment of the sea on the west shore of the island, which ate away at the property of the monks. In 1324-5 a very considerable portion of the Island was definitely submerged beneath the sea, including the priory church and conventual building. In 1325 the prior forwarded a statement to the crown, and on 8th March 1325 an Inquisition found that 206 acres of arable land of the priory demesne had been inundated and destroyed by the sea since 1294, and that the full annual value of possessions destroyed amounted to the considerable sum of £42.7s.4d.

In 1414 after the general dissolution of all priories in England, Henry V granted Hayling to the Abbey of Sheen in Surrey. So the connection between Jumièges and Hayling came to an end. But the monks of Jumièges were Lords of the Manor of Hayling for the best part of four centuries and the Island prospered under their stewardship. It is therefore appropriate that on the coat of Arms of Havant Borough (of which Hayling Island forms part) the keys borne on the Shield have been taken from the Arms of the monks of Jumièges since History records that “in 1067 William the Conqueror vested in the Abbey of Jumièges the Island called Hayling with all its belongings”.

Hayling in prehistory and early history (to Domesday)

by Sue Humphrey

In prehistoric times Hayling Island was, so far as we know, uninhabited. The Solent, separating the Island from the Isle of Wight was at that time a tributary of the River Frome. As the last of the ice melted during the final ice age, the level of the ocean was raised and this completed the drowning of the River Frome. Hayling’s riverbank was converted into a beach and the Frome’s tributaries both from the newborn Isle of Wight and from the mainland side were shortened into rivers flowing into the sea. These fast flowing rivers covered Hayling partially with deposits of shingle; other slow-moving streams precipitated the rich brickearth “to which the Island owes its significance in the scheme of things” in the words of F.G.S. Thomas. The Ice age deposited large boulders, known as erratics, which have been used for the foundations of many of the oldest buildings on the Island including St. Peter’s Church, Old Fleet Farm, Rook Farm and Langstone Mill.Hayling Island was probably first inhabited by man in the New Stone Age (2,500 to 1,800 BC), though there is little evidence of early Britons having made permanent settlements here. The British Museum holds one polished axe-head found on Hayling and two or three arrowheads from the same era have been found dating from the Middle Stone Age (8000 to 2,500 BC). Hayling was then woodland with open areas of gorse and fern, which furnished these early hominids with food and clothing in the form of boar, deer and wolves. Flint and stone implements, a pebble pavement and a fireplace excavated by Mr. E.S. McEuen at Pound Marsh are evidence of life on Hayling sometime between the Early Bronze Age and the Iron Age (1700-75BC). The Earthwork at Tournerbury on the eastern side of the Island, is also considered to fall within this period. It is 250 yards diameter at its greatest and is about half a mile in circumference, covering some seven or eight acres. McEuan claims that Tournerbury is pre-Roman, but others claim that Tournerbury was a Roman fort. The Romans built a cordon of nine coastal and esturial forts, stretching from the Solent to the Wash. These forts were the base for an army and a navy under a Commander who bore the name and rank of “Count of the Saxon Shore”. It is certain that Porchester Castle was one of these, and the site of Tournerbury suggests that it held a very similar position with regard Chichester Harbour as Portchester does to Portsmouth Harbour. However, all these "Saxon Shore" forts have been identified and Tournerbury is not included. It has been suggested, however, that there is no reason why Tournerbury should not have been a secondary fort – designed to fill the gap between Portchester and Pevensey. When the Romans left this stronghold the Saxons claimed it as their principle settlement under their chief Haegel. In the early 19th century pottery of Roman origin was found in Towncil Field, in the northern part of the Island. In 1897 an archaeologiest, Dr. Talfourd Ely became interested in the site and began digging in earnest. He exposed floors, foundations, a courtyard and a central heating system. This site has since been identified as a Romano-British Temple, and a great deal of research is being undertaken into its significance to the area both in the Iron Age and in Roman times.

The Saxons and Vikings were responsible for much of the destruction of any Roman buildings, and left little of any significance, with the exception of the font in St. Mary’s Church and the name of the Island itself, which, according to the Oxford Dictionary of English Place names is “the Island of the Haeglinglas or Haegel’s people”. A thousand years ago, the Island was considerably larger, but the continual erosion by the sea has caused the coastline to recede over the centuries. It is recorded that there was a great tidal inundation in 1325 and legend has it that the bells of the old Church, submerged in this inundation may still be heard to ring on a stormy night.

At the time of the Domesday Book (1086) Hayling Island probably had a population of around 300. Domesday found Hayling under four ownerships. All four entries are headed “In Boseberg Hundred” but only three actually name Hayling. The Domesday Book also mentions a saltpan where salt was made.

  1. The King himself holds in Halingei two hides and a half. Leman held it in parage. Harald took it from him when he seised the kingdom and put it into his farm.
  2. The monks of the bishopric of Winchester hold Helinghei, they always held it.
  3. The Abbey of Jumièges hold Helingey Ulward held it (free of all services and dues except land tax) of Queen Emma.
  4. Believed to have been the five hides given by Earl Roger Montgomery to the Abbey of TROARN later conveyed to John Falcomer of Wade and Limbourne. (These lands were in North Hayling).

South Hayling was by far the largest of the four Domesday divisions. This was one of nine manors purported to have been bestowed upon the monks of St. Swithuns by Queen Emma in thanksgiving after her trial by ordeal in 1045. One half was given to Ullward for life with the proviso that it revert to the monks after defraying funeral expenses. But in a charter dated 1086 William the Conqueror granted the whole of the manor of South Hayling (St. Swithun’s half and Ulward’s half) to the Abbey of Jumièges. This gift caused great dispute between Jumieges and Winchester, which was at its height when the domesday book was being compiled. Certainly, the monks of Jumièges built a priory on the Island and these monks owned the greater part of the Island until the early 15th century.

Emma of Normandy

by Sue Humphrey (Local History group 1)

In the Annals of Winchester Abbey, the Manor of South Hayling is stated to have come into the possession of the Church of St. Swythun in 1045, partly by the gift of Queen Emma wife of King Aethelred and King Canute, and partly by the gift of Aelwyn, Bishop of Winchester.

The story behind this statement is one that is well worth telling! Emma was the daughter of Duke Richard I of Normandy and sister to Duke Richard, the grandfather of William the Conqueror. As a girl of sixteen she came to England to become the wife of the ageing King Ethelred the Unready. As part of her wedding dowry Aethelred bestowed upon her many manors, one of which was the Manor of South Hayling. She and Aethelred had two sons, Edward and Alfred, who were raised across the channel in their mother's country as Norman princes.

When Aethelred died in 1016 the throne passed to Edmund Ironside, a son of Aethelred by his first wife. Canute, who had ravaged and conquered most of England, used every exertion to dethrone Edmund but they finally agreed to share the Kingdom. Edmund met a violent death in 1016 and Canute became the first Danish King of England.

To validate his place on Aethelred's throne, Canute married Emma and they had one son, Harthacanute. Emma was again left a widow when Canute died in 1035. Harold Harefoot, Canute's eldest son by his first marriage became King and set about ridding himself of Emma and her sons. Edward and Alfred were summoned to return to England by a forged letter sent in their mother's name. Alfred returned but Edward stayed in Normandy. Alfred was brutally assassinated by Earl Godwin, at the King's behest. Emma was banished and settled in Bruges with Harthacanute, where they started to build up an army of invasion. However, Harold Harefoot died in March 1040 and Harthacanute became King. He reigned for two turbulent years in which he very nearly provoked Civil War. When he died, all the people of England "immediately chose Edward as their King in London" and in 1042 Edward the Confessor was crowned.

But three of Edward's most powerful advisers, including Harold Godwin, were determined to destroy Emma's power base in England. They persuaded Edward that his mother had consented to the death of his brother Alfred and also accused her of criminal intimacy with Aelwyn, Bishop of Winchester. Edward was infuriated by what they told him and rode with them to Winchester where he confiscated all Emma's wealth and estates, banishing her to live out the rest of her life at Wherwell Priory.

Emma, however, wrote to all the Bishops of England whom she trusted, begging them to persuade her son to allow her to prove her innocence of all charges against herself and the Bishop by submitting to the "ordeal of burning iron". Edward finally agreed to this and, legend tells us, that Emma, aided by St. Swythun, walked blindfolded and unharmed over nine red-hot ploughshares set into the floor of Winchester Abbey - four ploughshares for her own crimes and five for Bishop Aelwyn's. The king, now thoroughly convinced of her innocence, begged forgiveness of his mother and restored all her confiscated property.

Following this miraculous event, the Winchester Annals tell us that "Queen Emma having possession of all the manors of her dowry which had been confirmed on her by former kings, gave the same day, as an offering to St. Swythun, for nine ploughshares - nine manors. One of these manors was the Manor of South Hayling.

Emma died in March 1052 aged 70+. She was buried in the Old Minster at Winchester alongside Canute. Emma was a remarkable woman of her day, the wife of two Kings of England and the mother of two Kings of England. She dominated the English Court for over 50 years as both Queen and Queen Mother, surviving five Kings. It is through her relationship to her great-nephew, William of Normandy, however, that she is best remembered in the History of England. Her own sons produced no heirs, but on Christmas Day, 1066 William of Normandy was crowned King of England and so a dynasty in Emma's bloodline was founded which continues to this day.

The oyster industry on Hayling Island

by Sue Humphrey (Local History Group 1)

Trigg’s Hayling guide of 1867 contains an article entitled “The adaptability of Hayling Island for Oyster Culture”. The article states that the Island of Hayling is the best part of the South Coast of England for the purpose of Oyster culture. The success of the South of England Oyster Company and the formation of another company, in 1865 called the Hayling Oyster Company, would appear to prove this statement correct. White’s directory of 1859 lists three oyster merchants on Hayling; William Crouch of Sinar, John Gamble of Milton and David Russell of Farlington. The Directory of 1878 lists only one, The South of England Oyster Company with Captain John Woods as the Managing Director, and James Dilnott as the local manager, so presumably by this time the South of England Oyster Company had “bought out” the other merchants.

In the reign of Henry II, the Emsworth Oyster Fishery at the northeast angle of Hayling Island, was valued at eight shillings and eight pence per annum to the royal treasury, and the harbour was from a very early date celebrated for the quality of its oysters. From the 15th century onwards, most Oyster farming took place in the English Channel, both along the Sussex coastline and on the other side of the Channel in Brittany. In these early years oyster fishermen returned the young oyster and spat to the sea, reserving only the marketable oyster; but by the early 19th century they were bringing home all they removed with their dredges, retaining the small oysters to deposit in their own oyster beds maturing them in baskets hanging from the surface of the oyster beds.

The best oyster growing conditions are to be found where there is protection from rough seas, but where there is still a tidal current to carry food for the larvae. Oyster farmers often built dykes to enclose large areas of salt water, with channels cut through them to let in the tidal swell. It is the remnants of these dykes, or bunds, which can still be seen at the northern end of Hayling Island. As the demand for oyster beds increased, the Lords of the Manor of Hayling granted portions of midlands to persons who cleared them, converting them into layings, and, according to the statute, planting sticks upon their boundaries, so that strangers should not dredge on their private beds. (These sticks can still be seen around old oyster beds today). These local beds in North Hayling were acclaimed as being the largest and best constructed in England in the early 19th century, with huge quantities of Langstone oysters being sent all over the country. (We still have a relic of this trade in the Oyster Boat “Terror” which has been beautifully restored and takes groups of six for a sail on the harbour on days when the tide is right!) A family of oyster farmers established their home on a tiny islet in Langstone Harbour in 1819. Matthew Russell and his eldest son, David, established oyster beds around the islet and in nearby Crastick’s channel and this later came to be known as Russell’s Lake. A house, which was built for them to live in also served to keep an eye out for oyster poachers, but local folklore has it that the house had suspiciously large cellars and was often visited by unlit vessels at the dead of night!

In the 1840’s things became tougher for the oyster fishermen. Many fishermen engaged in widespread dredging, clearing land on which to store young oysters, so that they might grow and fatten. This is where they fell foul of the new Lord of the Manor, William Padwick, who claimed his right to the soil and brought many court actions for trespass against the fishermen. But this was only one of the problems the oyster fishermen had to contend with; by far the greatest as the 19th century wore on was that of pollution. Drainage schemes for Hayling were put forward with alarming regularity, all of which seemed to involve outflows on to the shore in proximity to the oyster beds, Feelings were at their strongest in the 1920’s when a scheme costing £26,000 was presented. A group of local fishermen, led by a Mr. Moore, protested that the fishing would be polluted, pointing out that if the effluent was discharged at flood-tide it would flow rapidly up the harbour, thus affecting the oyster beds and oyster dredging in Langstone Harbour. As it happened, it did not really matter, for by the 1930’s many of the best oyster beds had been reclaimed, with one being used for tennis courts and another converted into a swimming pool for the local holiday camp.

The most notorious case of pollution of the oyster population occurred in 1902. Council workers in Warblington re-laid a number of sewers and drains, which emptied onto the Emsworth foreshore. An eminent Emsworth oyster merchant, J.D. Foster constructed a number of ponds in close proximity to the outflow and seeded them with a considerable quantity of young oysters. In 1902 there was a mayoral banquet and, naturally, one of the courses consisted of the oysters for which Emsworth and Hayling had by then become justly famous. Unfortunately some of the shellfish had been contaminated by the outflow and several of the diners, including the Dean of Winchester, died of typhoid. The oyster industry in the area collapsed almost overnight. J.D. Foster made a claim for damages against Warblington Council for £18,000. However, another local merchant, Jack Kennett, testified against Foster in court stating that he had not only known about the outflow but had deliberately put his beds in that area to make use of the extra nutrients in the water! Foster’s award was reduced to £3,300, the town avoided bankruptcy and Kennett became a local hero!

In the 1980’s Havant Borough Council was persuaded to allow a local firm to restart the oyster business and the first thing they did was to dump 800,000 tonnes of builders’ rubble over the old shingle beds. They then asked for permission to construct a building on the edge of the pools for business purposes! When this was refused the firm went bankrupt (some say that it had achieved its purpose which was not the culture of oysters but the acquisition of a free tip for rubble!)