Coastal Walks – West Wittering to Itchenor Circular

The Witterings – History and Area

Comprising of West and East Wittering, ‘The Witterings’ attracts thousands of holiday makers all year round. With Bracklesham Bay almost seamlessly merged with East Wittering, this large coastal area has much to offer in terms of water sports, beaches, eateries and walks.

History

The Manhood Peninsula, which incorporates Witterings, Bracklesham, Selsey and neighbouring villages, used to be an island until the surrounding creeks silted up. Historically known as the Hundred of Manhood, the area was thought to be founded during the Anglo-Saxon period and had its own courts and local government until the ‘system of hundreds’ was abolished in the 19th century. The Church of St Peter and St Paul in West Wittering has been significant in the history of the area, owning much land in the Manhood. The earliest records of the church date back to around 740. Between 950 and 1010, the church was destroyed by fire during a Viking raid and was rebuilt in stone between 1016 -1035. It was again destroyed and rebuilt after the Norman invasion in 1066.

An area of charm

In the 50s, architectural historian, Nikolaus Pevsner, called East and West Wittering: “a jumble of bungalows and chalets near the beach in an untidy half grown-up state”. While this may still apply to some of the area, it’s this ‘seaside chalet’ feel that creates such unique appeal to the area. Head into the heart of East Wittering and its parade of quaint shops has an ‘untouched’ charm about it; not behind the times, but far from modernised. You’ll still find a local butcher, two green groceries, and an array of independent cafes and shops that are run with love and dedication by locals.

Recent Development

Not to say these villages aren’t developing. In recent years, the area has seen: a run-down ice cream parlour in Bracklesham car park transform into a popular café/restaurant (Billy’s on the Beach); a predominantly vegetarian restaurant open its doors on Shore Road (Three Veg); a pub at risk of closure rescued by West Wittering residents and revamped to a high standard (The Old House at Home); and the arrival of Drifters, a restaurant with a sunny deck serving cocktails throughout the summer. With much modernisation to residential properties, The Witterings has an abundance of holiday lets, ranging from static caravans to beach front mansions. With over three-miles of accessible beaches – from the stony shores of Bracklesham to the white sands of West Wittering – the area attracts water sport enthusiasts, families, dog walkers and bird watchers. From the hustle and bustle of the village shops and lively pubs, to the quieter shoreline and tranquil walks around East Head, it’s no wonder people return here to holiday time and time again.
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