The ever changing Sussex coastline
With the coast playing such an important part in the life of Sussex folk over the ages, changes in sea level and the coastline have been hugely influential on the Sussex way of life.
As recently as Roman times the tidal inlet of the main rivers meeting the Sussex coast were much deeper than they are today.
And in more recent history, large storms have had a huge impact on the navigability of the rivers and the usability of the harbours along the Sussex coast - even changing land into sea and back again.
Where the Sussex coast has changed mostThe movement of the sand bar at the head of Chichester Harbour to its current position, where it more or less lies across the entrance to the harbour has led to the silting up of Chichester's main channels-leading to Emsworth, Bosham, the old Chichester port of Dell Quay, the Roman port of Fishbourne and Birdham.
The port of Old Shoreham was established in the 11th century as an answer to changes in the course and navigability of the River Adur. Today it stands alongside the river, largely useless as a significant port. As longshore drift created new land at Shoreham Beach, blocking the mouth of the Adur, the river found a route to the sea near present day Portslade, several miles east along the Sussex shoreline. A new port had to be established at New Shoreham and the main harbour activity now takes place taking place some distance from the Saxon port.
Pagham Harbour has had an oscillating existence, changing from sea to land and back again depending on the position and size of the shingle spits at the mouth of the harbour and on man's intervention and determination to hold back nature. In 1910 a large storm broke through the shingle bar which had protected land on the edge of Pagham Harbour from the ravages of the sea, turning a huge area of grazing land back into open water.
Much of the Sussex coast has been tamed for now by the building of concrete barriers, reinforced by shingle banks. This is especially the case in the big seaside towns like Bognor, Worthing and Brighton.
In Worthing, for example, until the Esplanade was built in 1820-21 high tides or high seas could often result in the sea spilling into the town. Even today, exceptionally high tides can cause difficulties all along the West Sussex coast.
The effect of these differences however is merely to shift the problem elsewhere, making unprotected coastline like Selsey vulnerable to the increasing weight of water which inches inland year by year.
- Roman Sussex
- Saxon Sussex
- The sea and its effect on coastal communities over the centuries
- Key dates in the history of West Sussex
- Bognor Regis
- Burgess Hill
- East Grinstead
- Haywards Heath
- Arundel Castle
- Arundel Cathedral
- Brighton Pavilion
- Chichester Cathedral
- Torberry Hill
- Cissbury Ring
- The Devil's Humps
- Chichester Canal
- St Mary's Bramber
- Knepp Castle
- Sussex Churches
- Wey and Arun Canal
- More places in Sussex with historical connections
- The Weald and Downland Open Air Museum at Singleton
- Amberley Museum
- Top Sussex Museums