Local history 4 articles

Local history 4 group articles

North Hayling poorhouse

This is an article published in the Spring 2018 edition of the Hayling Island U3A newsletter....

It is interesting that Hayling once had a “Poorhouse” and that this was situated in North Hayling rather than in the south of the Island. It was built on a piece of land in what is St. Peter’s Road today. An Article in the Portsmouth Evening News dated 22nd October 1932 states that it was then a picturesque row of cottages known as North Terrace. In the 18th century the Parish of North Hayling had considerably more inhabitants than South Hayling. (A census taken in 1788 gave the population as being considerably the larger of the two parishes) so it is not surprising that the Poorhouse was built here.

The Poorhouse was a place where those who were unable to support themselves were offered accommodation and employment by their local parish. Life “in the workhouse” was intended to be harsh to ensure that only the truly destitute would apply. The Parish Council, who administered the Poorhouse, would use the free labour of inmates on tasks such as breaking stones, road mending, picking oakum and crushing bones to produce fertilizer. Inmates were required to surrender their clothes when they entered and wear standard workhouse uniforms.

The parish records for North Hayling exist from 1783, previous records having been lost. The Poorhouse was administered by the North Hayling Parish Council with a monthly meeting of ratepayers being held, its accounts and minutes kept by the churchwarden and two overseers, verified twice a year by two Justices of the Peace. Levying a Poor Rate on all local inhabitants raised income.

The minutes tell us that in 1787 the old almshouse was falling down and John Rogers (then the Church Warden) raised loans and was granted land to build a new Poor house. The house was thatched and had attached to it a hog pen and a furze-house, both also thatched. In his book “The King holds Hayling”, F.G.S. Thomas tells us that “Wm. Palmer was master at 6 shillings a week, then came Mrs. Warren at about 4 shillings a week and Mr. Parr taught the children at two shillings and sixpence a week.” He also tells us that “in 1801, when all the poorhouses in the country were full and overflowing Hayling North spent £60 a month on its poor.” This was the year of the first official National Census and the parish of North Hayling was reckoned to have 254 residents. Of these only 25 were ratepayers and, as Thomas states, “it almost passes belief that they should have had to find £740 for their poor”. 1801 was a disastrous year throughout the South of England because of a series of crop failures.

In the year 1834, when parish workhouses were superseded by Union Workhouses, the Havant Board of Guardians took over the duties formerly carried out by the parish of North Hayling. The Poor of Hayling then became the responsibility of Havant Borough Council and were then all accommodated in the Havant Workhouse.

This is a very short introduction to our former Poorhouse. Those interested in finding out more are directed towards an article published in the Portsmouth Evening News – 22 October 1932 and reproduced in “A Collection of Articles on Hayling Island Volume 2. (Havant History Booklet No.47) produced by The Spring. Also “The King holds Hayling” by F.G.S. Thomas, chapters 13 and 14 “The Poor we had with us” and “Save the Parish Harmless”. Both these sources provide fascinating glimpses into the life of the poor and the ways in which they were “cared for” in the 18th and early 19th centuries. This article relies heavily on both these sources for information

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.

Pubs in Portsmouth

compiled by Sue Payne (Local History Group 3)

Portsmouth has had a reputation in the past of having more pubs to the square acre than any other place in the country, closely followed by Gosport. The reason of course for this is the presence of the Royal Navy. In 1864 Portsmouth had 277 public houses and 545 beerhouses. This meant there was one drinking establishment for every one hundred residents.

Drinking establishments in earlier times could be placed in three categories. At the top of the scale were the old established coaching inns in which surroundings were usually more palatial and comfortable; the George Inn in the High Street and the Star and Garter in Broad Street being two examples. Next on the list were the better known alehouses and taverns that maintained fairly reasonable standards and service. Thirdly, the poor relations, beerhouses. They could vary considerably, some of them being worthy of development into fully fledged public houses in later years, others were little more than dwelling houses in which the front parlour had been converted into some resemblance of a bar and the concoction that passed as beer was brewed in the yard at the rear of the house. Beerhouses were introduced in 1830, the authorities being under the impression that drinking beer was healthier than the evils of gin and spirits. On the other hand drinking beer or spirits was probably healthier than the water supply at the time. Throughout their history, drinking establishments have adapted to changing social conditions. The splitting up of the bar counter occurred during the industrial era when tradesmen and managers took exception to drinking in the same room as their workers and were quite happy to pay an extra halfpenny on a pint for the privilege of drinking with those of their own class. This brought about the introduction of the saloon bars, private bars, public bars, ladies wine bars and that select inner sanctum known as the snug. Each class appeared to have their own preference for which game they should play. Working men usually went for dominoes or cribbage but their bosses had bagatelle boards in their parlour and sometimes a skittle alley.

It was a common sight to see drunks on the street in the 18th and early 19th centuries, however Temperance campaigners were particularly active in trying to improve the situation. People drank to forget their depressing and appalling living conditions. Drinking dens provided a means of escape for a few short hours and although many beerhouses could not be called places of grandeur, they provided a conviviality that could not be found at home. Authorities did their best to reduce drunkenness by embarking on a programme to cut the excessive number of drinking outlets and the Church was only too happy to support this. As early as 1825 several alehouses were fined £5 each for allowing drinking in their houses during the hours of Divine Service on Sunday. The Town Council, on August 11th 1866, decided to adopt the Public House Act of 1864 requiring the closure of public houses between 1 o’clock and 4 o’clock in the morning. Eight years later this was changed to 11pm instead of 1am. In the 18th century the coaching inns flourished but by the mid 19th century this had changed due to the railways. However in Portsmouth the railway brought passengers for the seaside at Southsea and to use the harbour, so the inns and hotels still enjoyed good trade.

By 1915 Portsmouth had 305 alehouses and 372 beerhouses but the population had increased considerably to support this trade. During the Second World War many pubs and streets were bombed reducing numbers considerably. Portsmouth has lost hundreds in the last century, many have been converted. These may be identified by glazed tiling on the frontage or half timber decoration to upper floors. Today there are less than 150 pubs in Portsmouth and only 8 in Old Portsmouth.


  • “Pubs of Portsmouth” by Ron Brown
  • Portsmouth Local History – Stephen Pomeroy
  • History in Portsmouth 1860 project

"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 Hayling Island holiday camps

by Karen Walker

Since the mid 1800’s the health giving properties of seawater and ozone were being recognised and by the 19th Century there came the age of the seaside resort. Hayling was regarded as a healthy and pleasant place to live and visit for the day. Entrepreneurs were not slow to realise the prosperity that could be enjoyed by coastal resorts that attracted visitors.

The Royal Hotel, built in 1825, a commodious building with excellent facilities was built to cater for holiday makers. This was an hotel for the sporting gentlemen and genteel ladies, with facilities such as a large billiard room, lounges and stunning sea views. The Royal was close to the Library with its classic pillars, picture gallery and chess room. Also, nearby was the Bath House for a hot, tepid or cold bath. There were bathing machines on the waters edge, for the privacy of bathers who were hardy and preferred the invigorating delights of sea bathing and around 1909 there were many tents and a few huts on the beach for adults to shed their heavy clothes before sunbathing, even so men still kept their trilby hats on!

By 1887 the Hayling Railway Company were bringing even more visitors to Hayling and her sandy beaches therefore excursions to the beach were brought within the reach of many. Day excursions were becoming even more popular; however, there were still few places for the working classes to stay.

Over the next couple of decades people were beginning to buy inexpensive plots of farming land, particularly at the Eastern end of the Island to build holiday homes or to site old railway carriages for holiday use. Southwood Road was principally developed for holiday homes. By 1935 there were new estates being built, Sandy Beach Estate and Sea Front Estate being two of these, the agents advertising them as holiday homes by the sea. The complexion of Hayling was rapidly changing and had become a desirable holiday location, not purely for day-trippers.

This was very soon recognised and addressed by the establishment of the first holiday camp at Northney in 1931 by Captain Harry Warner who took retirement from the Royal Artillery in 1925 and began a successful involvement in a seaside restaurant business. This led to his diversity into the holiday camp business and the provision of holiday accommodation for the working classes. Northney camp remained virtually unchanged with the exception of a period during World War 2 when it was co-opted as a Naval Barracks and called HMS Northney In 1951 Northney camp was still very popular. ‘Holiday Camps’ magazine’s description was glowing:

"Its spirit of friendliness, its setting in the beautiful countryside by the waters of Chichester harbour, and the bracing Hayling Island climate have given Northney a popularity that has grown over the years."

This camp remained a very successful camp until the 1980’s when it closed to leave the way open for a development of housing at the Northern end of the Island.

In the 1930’s a new generation of holidaymakers began to discover the delights of Hayling, helped by the fact that a faster service provided from Waterloo and Brighton via Havant was electrified. The working classes were having more holidays and more camps were being built to accommodate them, the object was to provide a complete ‘package holiday’. Everything was provided, self contained, ‘artistically constructed suntrap chalets’, food, entertainment and leisure facilities for the whole family, without the need to even leave the camp. A ‘Home Away From Home’, family fun, sun, sea and sand. This proved to be a recipe for an incredibly successful type of holiday.

In the early 1930's the Civil Service established a holiday camp on Hayling but it was not a success. Capt. Warner purchased it and renamed it Southleigh, which was sited in St Mary’s Road. This continued as a flourishing holiday camp for some 50 years until in the 1980’s it closed and was demolished to make way for a housing development.

During the 1930's there were several more camps built, an independent one, Silver Sands at Eastoke being one, which ran for many years. In 1936 a consortium of Portsmouth businessmen built Coronation camp, but like the Civil Service camp it was an immediate flop and was sold to Warner. Coronation camp, completed in coronation year, hence the name, was and is, in Fishery Lane. It had a capacity then of approx. 800. The lake was originally open to the sea and tidal, until a causeway was built in 1986 and the site renamed Lakeside Coastal Centre. The pitch and putt golf course at the back of the site was built on land reclaimed from old oyster beds.

The Sunshine Camp, situated by Pound Corner, was originally a farmhouse, Hudson’s, with some land and modest surroundings. Building started in 1938 but was not finished by the outbreak of World War 2. It was offered as a prisoner-of-war camp but was rejected because the accommodation was not considered up to standard ! Eventually it was used by the Royal Marines. Sunshine opened its doors to the public in the early 1940’s, owned by Freshfields, a local management team who were later bought out by Pontins, one of the biggest names in Leisure and Tourism. However, it was later bought out by Warners and known as Mill Rythe Holiday Village. It was here that the BBC shot scenes for the extremely popular sit-com Hi Di Hi, the movie ‘Confessions From a Holiday Camp’ was filmed entirely at Mill Rythe and, more up to date in 2004, scenes from Eastenders were shot there.

With The Second World War, holidays were put on hold but the camps were used to good effect to house military personnel, Marines, Navy and Army etc. However, after the war everyone came out of the gloom and descended upon the coast once more, determined to enjoy themselves. Holiday camps fell in with this spirit, with the Hayling camps attracting many thousands each summer. Obviously this increased the population of Hayling considerably and must have offered a lot of employment for the ‘locals’. These camps were hugely successful and thousands of people holidayed here over the next few decades.

Another camp was built in the early fifties and that was Sinah Warren, which of course is very well known right up until today. Sinah Warren started life as a "health farm", run by Monks, in the late 15th Century. The origin of the name ‘Sinah’ has raised much debate, one proposed theory states Sinah was the name of a herb used to cure a wide range of ailments, the other that Sinah was once a breed of long-tailed rabbit, hence Sinah Warren. Which is correct, you can choose! Following extensive religious and cultural changes in the 16th Century, Sinah was sold to the Duke of Norfolk and remained in the family for generations until it was sold to Andrew Arbuthnot in the 1930’s. Arbuthnot, a millionaire businessman, was an outstanding character who married Miss Lambert, from the Lambert & Butler tobacco family. He built a large residence, Sinah Warren, and established one of the first ‘factory farms’ in the country, to help deal with food shortages during the war. Here he had a battery hen farm, with vast sheds housing poultry in battery cages, which covered the area of Lime Grove and part of Sinah Lane. Needless to say the residents around Sinah used to complain of the smell when the wind blew their way over the great manure heaps which built up there. However, his hen houses always passed the health inspections; it was said he had plenty of finance to keep the inspectors quiet, so perhaps that is the reason why! On his travels abroad he brought back various species of trees and plants, his aim, supposedly was to plant every known tree in the world, hence the extensive and varied tree cover in this area. During the Second World War the Royal Navy took over the house and Arbuthnot left for London and apparently never lived at Sinah Warren again. After the war it lay vacant until in 1952 it was sold for £8,000 to a Portsmouth builder who began to turn it into a holiday camp. He sold it to Warners before it was finished, however. Warner’s went on to finish building Sinah Warren as a Holiday Camp and it opened in the summer of 1958.

Capt. Warner’s sons, Bill, Alen and John became directors of the Warner camps which remained a family concern until 1982 when they were taken over by Grand Metropolitan hotels who continued to run them in the same way. These camps, located at prime waterside sites on Hayling Island, covering the north, south, east and west, made Hayling one of the first huge UK Holiday Camp destinations. The concept of holiday camps was a runaway success and the formula of the holiday they provided was enormously popular. During their hey day on Hayling these camps provided not only affordable holidays for thousands of people from throughout the UK but provided ample employment for Hayling Island residents and put the Island on the map as a major tourist attraction.

87 years on, Hayling Island still has three holiday camps up and running. They have moved with the times, altered and reinvented themselves to provide a holiday camp experience to suit the needs of the 21st Century. Two of these camps or should we now say, hotels or holiday resorts, still carry the Warner brand even though owned by a large Leisure company called Bourne Leisure. They are Sinah Warren and Warner Lakeside Coastal Resort. The third camp, now owned by an independent company is Mill Rythe Holidays. All three of these Holiday resorts are in prime locations and continue to draw guests to this lovely Island. Butlins was always the biggest and most well known holiday company, it was Billy Butlin who, when opening his first camp had the slogan ‘A week’s holiday for a week’s pay’ and this was a great success. The company continues to offer these holidays today but it is interesting that Warners, the brand most associated with Hayling, still has 13 Holiday Resorts under this brand, which are for adults only and constitute Historic or Character Hotels. These thrive and are throughout the UK and continue to occupy a niche in this unique holiday industry in the 21st century.


  • Butlins/Warner Memories
  • The Story of Hayling - by Ron Brown
  • H.I. Camp archives
  • Havant Borough Council

A history of Hayling Island Sailing Club

by Belinda Cook and Leonie Austin

2011 has been a very special time for the Hayling Island Sailing Club, celebrating its 90th anniversary year. It was in 1921 that a small group of sailing enthusiasts gathered at Wall Corner, (where Mengham Rythe Sailing Club now exists), and formed HISC, using the constitution of East Cowes Sailing Club to guide them. With 120 members, racing mostly took place during the summer months, with a Regatta in August. This was attended by visitors from the sailing clubs of Chichester Harbour, with not only sailing and rowing races, but races over the mud using pattens. Sailors met initially in a small wooden hut, and in Quay Cottage, but in 1930 built a more substantial clubhouse. Boats were wooden, mostly clinker built, with sails of canvas and none of the modern “gadgets”, were available. Sailing was definitely for the summer months! Wet suits for winter sailing did not become compulsory until 1970! Recently, the archives group at HISC recovered a minute book covering the years 1927 to 1930, recording the minutes of the General committee, the sailing committee and the committee overseeing the clubhouse activities. The minutes make fascinating reading – a member of the archive group has transcribed the handwritten pages to enable easy reading.

During the late 1920s and early 30s, the membership grew slowly and members raced and met other sailors enjoying the use of the harbour at high tide. In 1935, Captain Ivan Snell who lived at Mengham House on Hayling, offered to build a new clubhouse at Black Point (Sandy Point), enabling sailing to be undertaken at all states of the tide. In 1936, the cruciform shaped building was opened having been designed by Captain Snell, and one of the first events was to host the defence of the New York Challenge Cup in International Canoes by Roger De Quincey, a HISC member, and Uffa Fox, later to become known as Prince Philip’s sailing master. In 1939, when war was declared, sailing was suspended. In 1943, the clubhouse was the headquarters of the Combined Operations Pilotage Parties (COPPs), a highly secret organisation undertaking reconnaissance in canoes in preparation for D Day. So secret was their work, that it is only recently that many of the details have been known. Hayling residents will know that recently there is a plan to provide a suitable memorial on Hayling seafront to these very brave men.

In 1946, the clubhouse re-opened and members returned to retrieve their boats and start picking up the pieces after the war. 1946 saw the resumption of sailing but a shortage of funds necessitated Captain Ivan Snell, Captain Rex Janson, Doctor E Wright and Commander Norway (novelist Neville Shute who lived in Pond Head) to form a company called Sandy Point Limited. The HISC property was then leased to the company for 21 years. Almost immediately new classes began to appear, and with the advent of cheap dinghies, mostly being designed by Jack Holt, a large number of members arrived from London. Very soon a few of this group tried to purchase the freehold, and although their efforts were very enthusiastically received, it took until 1959 before this was finally achieved by the full membership.

HISC began to host more and more National and International regattas and many families began to arrive with their children, those children now in 2011, bringing their own grandchildren down to continue the tradition. During the next decades, members have continued to become National and World champions in many classes, and have become part of the British Olympic teams.

In 2003, Princess Anne opened a new clubhouse, members having matched funds with a large grant from Sports England, producing a very spectacular building. In the last two years, HISC has hosted two World championships, the Laser Class in August 2010, and this year the Flying Fifteens. In both events visitors came from all over the World and the flags flying for the Laser championship came from all continents. All over Hayling, competitors were staying, shopping and eating, seeing Hayling at its best. But at its heart, the club is still for families, with the sandy beach for the young, and the sheltered waters within the harbour for the older children to learn to sail.

Belinda Cook and Leonie Austin lead a small archive group, which gathers HISC memorabilia, including photographs, moving pictures, documents and artefacts. They mount regular exhibitions in three display cabinets and link special exhibitions to visiting classes. They have been helped in their work by the Hampshire County Council Living Links project, which encourages Community groups to preserve and conserve their heritage. They received training at Hampshire Record office, and although this project has come to an end, they hope to continue spreading the word about community archives.

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”.

The history of Hayling Island lifeboats

compiled by Marjorie Symonds

From time immemorial mankind has been sailing the seas, trading and providing food, sailors risking their lives in the knowledge that the seas are cruel and unpredictable and that shipwreck is always possible. There have always been men on shore also, willing to risk their lives to save ships and sailors when disasters occur. Hayling Island, surrounded by water, has a long history and tradition of brave men and women with skill, courage and knowledge endeavouring to save lives and vessels in trouble off our coastline. Coastguards who watched the coast would venture out, but so also would local fishermen.

An incident in October 1862 was recorded when a sloop “Cygnet” ran aground on Woolsner Sands. Heavy seas defeated the Coastguard boat, but three local fishermen took their fishing smack out. Unable to get close, they launched their 13-foot rowing boat and, with superb seamanship, managed to row through the heavy seas, reaching the crew of three and bringing them safely ashore. For this brave rescue the Royal National Lifeboat Association in London awarded William Goldring, James Spraggs and David Farmer silver medals for gallantry. This was one of many attempts at rescue, some failing but some successful, which prompted the then Vicar of Hayling, the Reverend Charles Hardy to write to the RNLI urging that a lifeboat station should be established on Hayling Island. In February 1865 it was agreed to set one up and, with a donation of £500 by Leaf Co. and Sons of London, a lifeboat station was built on the western end of the shore at a cost of £259.10s. also a 10-oared self-righting 32ft boat, together with a special launching carriage was purchased. Everything was ready by September 1865.

The dedication day of the “Olive Leaf” was held on 13th September 1865 and it was a day, which brought crowds of visitors from all around the area. A contemporary picture showing the lifeboat men standing upright with their oars raised, flags flying, a large arena tent and delighted crowds of men, women and children gathered on the foreshore, sums up the spirit of the day admirably.

The first crew of the Olive Leaf, under William Goldring, Coxswain are listed below. The local landowner, Mr. Sandeman, opened up the grounds of Westfield House for the celebrations and the Reverend Hardy was appointed Hon. Secretary of the new lifeboat station. The donor company, Leaf and Sons, were apparently a religious, wealthy London company who named the boat as a reference to the biblical story of the olive leaf carried back to the Ark by a dove. There is also a picture of the Olive Leaf being hauled over the sands on its carriage by a team of horses lent by a local farmer. This could be dangerous work and, on occasion, horses lost their lives.

The new boat was soon put to the test during a fierce storm in October. A 540 ton barque “Atlas” ran aground on Woolsner Sands in a southerly gale and 14 men were rescued, one man being a crewman from a Norwegian Barque also shipwrecked. Later the Olive Leaf went out to the abandoned ship” Sirius” and brought it safely into Portsmouth Harbour. During the lifetime of the Olive Leaf between 1865 and 1888 it was launched hundreds of times and saved many lives and vessels. In 1880 Stephen Goldring took over as Cowswain and it is interesting to see how the same family names keep cropping up over the years in the Lifeboat service. I have listed these at the end of this article. I was told that the reason for this was that the fisherman families lived either in one home or in the vicinity of one another and so the tradition and knowledge was passed down from generation to generation.

The Olive Leaf served until a new lifeboat was commissioned in 1888. A 34 ft. 10-oared, self-righting boat costing £347 was commissioned and named “Charles and Adrian” after the donor’s two sons. This boat also saved many lives under the skilful leadership of Coxswain Miller. On one occasion in conditions which the men said were the worst they had every been in, they attempted a rescue of the Schooner “Blanche” carrying a cargo of corn. Three times the cable snapped but Coxswain Miller managed to take the crew of seven off safely. During this rescue the lifeboat was severely damaged but safely brought to shore.

In May 1914 a new self-righting 35ft lifeboat costing £1250 and named “Procter” after the donor, was built; the Coxswain was Charles Cole. A new boathouse was built on the seafront to the east of the old one, and this still exists near where the present coastguard building stands. In 1924 motor lifeboats were introduced which could cover a much wider area and these were allocated in Selsey and Bembridge, the Hayling lifeboat station being closed. With the introduction of inflatable lifeboats in 1966, Mr. Frank Martin and his two sons started a Rescue Patrol and became part of the Shore Boat Rescue scheme. In 1975 the RNLI and Hayling Island Sea Rescue Patrol joined forces and an Inshore Lifeboat Station was built at Sandy Point. In 1975 the first of a series of Atlantic 21 Rescue boats, powered by two 40hp engines with speeds up to 30 knots crewed by three men and fitted with radio and navigation lights, was introduced.

Launching and saving of lives and vessels continues to this day, although the character of boats has changed more to pleasure boats, sailboards, visitors using rubber dinghies, etc. The tradition of service continues and the present lifeboat station at Sandy Point is lined with Certificates for bravery awarded by the RNLI, a tribute to the amazing bravery and skilful seamanship exhibited by the lifeboat men of Hayling Island. In 1981 Frank Dunster was awarded the RNLI Bronze Medal for rescuing four crew from the yacht Fitz’s Flyer. In 1982 Roderick James was awarded the RNLI Silver Medal and Frank Dunster the Bronze Medal for rescuing a teenage boy in extreme conditions. In 1989 Graham Raines received the Bronze Medal for rescuing one person from the yacht Dingaling. In 1993 Silver Medals were awarded to Roderick James and Frank Dunster for rescuing nine crew from the yacht Donald Searle. In total, Hayling Lifeboat Station has won three Bronze Medals and 10 Silver Medals awarded by the RNLI. In 2004 Graham Raines was made an MBE, and in 2006 the Lifeboat Station was granted the Freedom of Chichester Harbour. It was only the second organisation ever to get this honour!


Marjorie writes, “Upon investigation I found out how the first lifeboat station came to be built in such a rapid way. Major F.W. Festing had a long career as a serving officer, was involved in the siege of Sebastopol and awarded medals for bravery. It so happened that he was billeted on Hayling Island and took a keen interest in local events, including the rescues at sea, and would even offer to join local fishermen on their rescue missions. In 1865 the schooner “Ocean” ran aground on Woolsner Sandbanks during a fierce storm. Despite efforts of tugs from Portsmouth and local fishing boats the seas were so violent no rescue could be made. On turn of tide, 12 local fishermen and Major Festing launched a local 10-oared cutter. With great skill this final attempt succeeded in saving the crew. The RNLI gave awards including a silver medal to Major Festing. (This proved very important in later history.)

Although the local Vicar wrote to the RNLI regarding a lifeboat station on the Island, because Major Festing had influence and contact with important, wealthy people in London, I am sure that it was he who formed a management committee, obtained donations for the project and managed to push the idea to such a quick and successful outcome. A local man, Mr. Trigg, tendered to build the boathouse and this was accepted. He lived in a house near the ferryboat and in later years large timbers within the house from shipwrecked boats, the carpentry in perfect condition, were discovered.

I would like to express my appreciation for the generous help and time shown to me by the Lifeboat men, in particular Graham Raines, whose grandfather, John, was one of the crew on the Proctor. Since he was a schoolboy, and with the encouragement of his teacher, he has made it his interest to gather together the history and documents of Hayling lifeboats. He proudly showed me a photograph of his grandfather clad in an old-fashioned coat and hat. I have to say it looked very much like him! He decided to check the relatives of Major Festing and was successful, but they claimed to have no knowledge of their ancestor’s interest in the lifeboats. However, they sent him a photograph of the Major, and Graham was able to identify the medal on his chest as a RNLI award. (It is different from other awards as it has two dolphins holding the medal). This caused the family much surprise and interest. The photograph is on display in the museum.

I enquired about women and was told that they did not go into the boats but were engaged on the shore assisting with launching; very often wading out waist high in dangerous seas and, the return of the boats helping with rescued crew. Currently there is one young woman in the lifeboat crew today. Call outs to alert crew were by maroons for many years, but in earlier times a man on a bicycle would cycle furiously around the streets, presumably ringing his bell and shouting as the majority of the houses were near the sea. Now of course there are mobile phones and ship to shore communications on the boats, also wetsuits and thermal clothing. However, seamanship skills and the bravery required of our Lifeboat men has not changed.

Early lifeboat families

1865 - “Olive Leaf”: Coxswain William Goldring, Thomas Spraggs (2nd Coxswain), James Spraggs, David Farmer, Stephen Goldring, George Green, Stephen Clark, Stephen Palmer, Stephen Rogers Snr., Stephen Rogers Jnr, Edward Clark, Ebenezer Cole, David Rogers.

1880 - Stephen Goldring Coxswain

1889 - “Charlie and Adrian” 1892 George Miller, Coxswain.

1914 - “Proctor”. 1919 Charles Cole, Coxswain; Ernie Cole, 2nd Coxswain; John Raines.

1920 - “Monte Grande”. Rescue crew; Charles Cole, ? Cox, Ernie Cole, G. Rowe, G. Jones, R. Goldring, W.Goldring, W.Foster, S. Gardner, W.Burrows, W.Miller, P.Bowers, T. Raines.

Hayling Island golf club

by Sue Payne (Local History Group 2)

It was in 1880 that a letter in The Field from Rev. J. Cumming Macdona, a golf “missionary” of the time referred to Mr. Fleetwood Sandeman wanting to establish a golf course on Hayling Island. A meeting took place in 1883 and Fleetwood Sandeman was elected the Club’s first Captain and Rev. Macdona as the first Chairman. The minutes of that meeting are still in existence. A young man, Joseph Lloyd, was hired from Hoylake as the first professional green keeper.

The course of nine holes originally started in front of The Royal Hotel and continued westward on Beach Common. A further nine holes were added in 1884 by leasing land from Sinah Warren. The sand dunes provided the perfect land for a links course and it was in this year that Miss Maud Sandeman founded the Hayling Ladies Section.

In 1894 the leases were transferred to the Club from Fleetwood Sandeman, and thereafter the members controlled the Club. The Club negotiated a long lease for the ground on Sinah Warren in 1897 and a Clubhouse was then built at a cost of £1000.

Famous golfers Harry Vardon and James Braid held an exhibition match in 1902 and in 1905 J.H. Taylor was commissioned, for a fee of £11, to make a “True Links” venue. Not all of Taylor’s suggestions were accepted by the club, but his overall plan went ahead.

In 1912 the Club began negotiating for the freehold of the land from Sinah Warren, but the War delayed the plans until 1924. It was then necessary to redesign the course as the lease ran out on the Beach Common, on which were the first two tees. It was also decided to lease out the land at the Kench, and remove the 13th and 14th holes which were incorporated on the Kench, and which crossed the road. In 1933 the famous course architect Tom Simpson was commissioned and the course was built very much as it is today. Bernard Darwin, a famous golf writer, who after playing the new course, said, “it possesses some of the finest natural seaside golfing country to be found anywhere.”
The clubhouse was enlarged in 1937 to accommodate the growing number of members and an extra floor was added to provide a lounge. This building remained until 2001 when a new clubhouse was built, replacing the old one.

During the Second World War the land to the west of the seventh tee was requisitioned by the Defence Department to erect anti-aircraft gun batteries. Evidence of these batteries and bomb craters can still be seen, despite repairs carried out at the end of the war. The 13th green had been totally buried under sand and was relocated near the ferry clubhouse.
Gravel had been extracted from the course for many years, but in 1938 a member suggested that some of these small extraction areas could be used to form a lake which would solve the Club’s course watering problems. Gravel extraction continued afterwards in a more organised fashion at one end of the lake. It is now a haven for birds and the water is leased to fishermen.

The sea has eroded the course at times; in 1930 high tides washed over the second green and up the third fairway, and in 1980 the southern fencing was washed away. Three new groynes have helped to stop further erosion.

The year 1949 saw a major change in the administrative set-up of the Club. The assets of Hayling Golf Club were sold to the present company, The Hayling Golf Club Ltd., in exchange for shares, which were vested in the Trustees of the Club. This was important, in view of the fact that the land held by the Club is freehold, including the foreshore from the Clubhouse to the Ferry, along with income from shingle and rents hand to be administered.

Hayling golf course forms part of Sinah Common (Site of Special Scientific Interest). The SSSI comprises a diversity of maritime habitats including the most extensive vegetated shingle beach and sand dunes system in Hampshire. The course is sympathetically managed, in an agreement with Natural England, to take into account the needs of golfers and the biodiversity found there.


  • Hayling Golf Club – A Natural place for Golf by Neil Blackey and Roger Thompson
  • Hayling Golf Club Centenary Brochure

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.

A history of St Peter's Church, Hayling Island

by Karen Walker (Local History Group 3)

We cannot look at the history of St. Peter’s without looking first at its connection to the Abbey of Jumièges in France.

Jumièges Abbey was founded in 674AD but was pillaged and burnt to the ground by the Normans and rebuilt on a much grander scale by the Duke of Normandy and a new church was consecrated in 1067 in the presence of William the Conqueror. The abbey became a centre of religion and learning and by the eleventh century it was regarded as a model for all the monasteries in the province.This link between Jumièges and Hayling was a result of the charter of William I about 1067, in which he described himself as Lord of Normandy and King of England by hereditary right and he saw fit to bestow on the famous abbey of St Peter of Jumièges the manor of Hayling; therefore the church and tithes of Hayling Island passed from the monks of Winchester to the Abbey of Jumièges. Henry I confirmed Jumièges in possession of Hayling by a charter dated between 1101 and 1106.

As a result of this charter, the abbot and convent of Jumièges would have sent a colony of monks to the Island as soon as the Conqueror had given them such a valuable gift. A Cell or Priory with suitable buildings, including a chapel and conventional church would have been speedily erected. This probably resulted in the Northwode or Northwood Chapel being built in about 1140 and this became the present St. Peter’s Church.

This chapel originally served as a “Chapel of Ease” providing a place of worship for those who lived and worked at North Hayling and were some distance from where the Priory church stood before the floods of the 13th/14th centuries.

The structure of St. Peter’s has altered little since it was originally built, being twelfth century with the Chancel and North Chapel constructed as additions to the original building in the early thirteenth century. A good deal of alteration to the fabric of the building took place in the comparatively early days of its existence, and the earliest portion remaining appears to be the north arcade of the nave, which may be assigned to the latter part of the t twelfth century. The rails separating the nave from the chancel could well have been ordered by Archbishop Laud (1573-1645) to protect the altar from “ye foulyng of dogges” in a rural area. There are old oak pews, with poppy head ends with holes for candles or rush lights. These are believed to be sixteenth or seventeenth century. There are three bells, fitted with half wheels, in frames, which are probably medieval; they were cast about 1350 at the Whitechapel Foundry in Dorset and it is believed that this ring of three bells is one of the oldest in the country.

St. Peter’s is a chapelry attached to South Hayling but no chapel was assessed with the church in the 'Taxaio' of 1291. However, in 1304 and during the next ten years there were several petitions from the inhabitants to the Bishop praying that the Vicar should celebrate in the chapel of St. Peter, Northwood. The dispute between the Vicar and his parishioners was settled in 1317 when the Vicar agreed to hold full and complete services there every Sunday and on certain festivals. Moreover, the Vicar undertook to provide the necessary books himself!

Bishop Waynflete, Bishop of Winchester from 1447-1486, agreed that a chaplain would be resident day and night at Northwode to celebrate divine service, with the parishioners providing a house for the chaplain. A parsonage was accordingly built, only to become tenanted by paupers in later centuries, and after damage by a gale it was pulled down.

Until 1485 no one could be buried at St. Peter’s and all burials took place at St. Mary’s. In that year, owing to difficulties caused by flooding and bad weather, the parishioners of North Hayling petitioned their patron, the Prior of Sheen, to be allowed to bury their dead in their own churchyard, and a right of burial was granted,

In conclusion, an excerpt from an old booklet about Hayling and ‘its points of interest’ ..

‘The two churches of Hayling thus form the only surviving links with the days of the old Benedictine Priory, when the beautiful paths and meadows of the Island were traversed by holy men in cowl, tunic and scapular; and England was the ‘Merrie England’, whose spirit is seen again in the happy holiday faces that brighten the same scenes today’.

(Sources: St. Peter’s Church Guide; A History of the County of Hampshire Volume 3; Hayling Island - The Happy Isle)