Unique Chichester Harbour sale includes ancient title

Property consultancy Vail Williams LLP has been instructed to sell the freehold of a south coast harbour closely linked with the world-famous Guinness family. The new owner automatically becomes Lord of the Manor. The drone picture shows Bosham Channel in Chichester Harbour, West Sussex.

Buying a harbour closely linked with the world-famous Guinness family comes with a difference for those taking the multi-million pound plunge in West Sussex – the new owner automatically becomes Lord of the Manor.

The Burhill Group Ltd has instructed property consultancy Vail Williams LLP to sell the Lordship of the Manor of Bosham and the property interests that were previously part of the ancient Manor of Bosham, in picturesque Chichester Harbour, and it is being marketed internationally.

In addition to the Quay and other valuable waterfront land, the freehold includes more than 800 moorings in Chichester Harbour.  The annual income from rents and mooring licences totals more than £400,000.

The freehold estate includes Bosham Quay and the Old Mill, now the home of Bosham Sailing Club, together with other associated property linked to the sailing club.

The sale of these highly prestigious assets is expected to attract strong interest as the freehold has been owned by members of the Guinness Family since the late 2nd Earl of Iveagh acquired The Manor back in the 1920s.

At that time both he and other members of the family were keen yachtsmen and regularly sailed their own boats in Chichester Harbour and the Solent, generating strong local connections.

Since the early 1920s various family members have either lived or spent much of their summer holiday time in Bosham and have a long affection for the area.

In 1976 the estate was transferred to  the Burhill Group, which has now entered a long term agreement with The Chichester Harbour Conservancy for the management of the moorings and, more recently, the day-to-day management of Bosham Quay.

The Lordship is owned by another Burhill Company called Manor of Bosham Ltd.

Ian Froome, a Vail Williams partner who specialises in marine and leisure markets, said: “This is a sound financial investment and the ancient manorial title makes it somewhat of a rarity, so we anticipate keen interest from buyers nationally and internationally, especially because of the Guinness family connection.

Ian Froome, a partner at property consultancy Vail Williams LLP, has UK wide expertise in marine property. Ian is handling the multi-million pound sale of a harbour, waterfront land and over 800 moorings in Chichester Harbour, West Sussex.

“We anticipate strong interest, both here in the UK and internationally, and we expect offers to exceed £6 million.

“Manors are of ancient origin dating before Norman times.  The owner is entitled to refer to themselves as Lord  of the Manor and they can use it on any legal or personal documents.”

Ian, of Vail Williams’ Solent Region, added: “Bosham, with its 10th Century church and harbour is in an idyllic setting – it is quintessentially English.

“Chichester Harbour is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is one of the most popular leisure sailing waters in the UK, with ready access to the Solent and the globally renowned yacht racing town of Cowes.”

Colin Mayes, Chief Executive Officer of Burhill Group Limited, said: “This is a unique opportunity to acquire assets which have been in the same ownership since the 1920s so are offered for sale for the first time in nearly 100 years.

“Over recent years the Burhill Group has continuously grown its wider leisure interests and now feels it is time that the future ownership of The Manor would be better suited to a more focused marine property owner.

“We have been honoured to be custodians of these unique and prestigious assets for nearly 100 years and are now keen to pass  these on to a new owner who will protect, and enhance the harbour in years to come, for the benefit of all users.”

The freehold land extends to include the foreshore and bed of Chichester Harbour up to the Mean High Water Mark from the Emsworth Channel to the West of Thorney Island, across to the Bosham Channel and part of the Chichester Channel.


History of Bosham and Manor of Bosham

There is believed to have been a Roman settlement at Bosham – possibly a residence maintained by Emperor Vespasian (69-79AD) – there is no solid evidence, although a number of Roman buildings, including a possible temple, theatre, various mosaics have been found in North Bosham.

Bosham is believed to be one of the oldest and continuously consecrated Christian sites in Sussex and certainly since 681AD when Saint Bede notes in his book ‘The Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation’ that Wilfrid (later Saint Wilfrid) came across a small monastery run by an Irish Monk known as Dicul along with five others.

The original church was built in Bosham around 850, which stood until the 10th Century when it was replaced with The Holy Trinity Church, which still stands and serves the Parish of Bosham today.

In the 11th century, it was at Bosham, a green peninsula which projects into Chichester Harbour, where King Canute apparently demonstrated to his obsequious courtiers that not even a king can turn back the invincible tide.

Legend also has it, that the King’s daughter drowned in the Mill Stream which runs alongside of the church and was subsequently buried within the church. This appears to be corroborated when a child’s skeleton and coffin believed to date from around the correct era was exhumed in the nave in 1865.

There is speculation that King Harold was buried in the local Saxon church, having been killed in the Battle of Hastings of 1066. Indeed, the village is mentioned by name in the famous Bayeux Tapestry, with Harold, “Earl of the English”, riding with his knights to Bosham church before sailing to Normandy.

However, this remains unproven as a request to undertake research on the burial chamber in 2004 was denied for fear that the chances of identification of the body were too slim to warrant the disturbance of a burial place.

The medieval village of Bosham was listed in the 11th Century Domesday Book as one of the wealthiest manors in England and is pronounced ‘Bozam’.

It was then in the possession of the Osbern, Bishop of Exeter, who is believed to have been granted it by Edward the Confessor. It extended to a total of 112 Hides (or roughly 13,000 acres) in different parts of the country.

The full title of what has become known as the ‘Manor of Bosham’ is “Hundred and Manor of Bosham and Chidham and Manor of Bosham Buckfold”.  It’s not clear when the Hundreds and Manorial titles amalgamated but The Lordship of the Hundreds now runs with the Lordship of the Manor of Bosham.

The last Court of the Hundreds of Bosham was held in 1914 by Tithing-men who presented small dues and were in turn rewarded for their attendance with a hearty dinner.

Since the time of the Domesday book, different parts of the Manor have been sold off, and have been held in various hands including William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke and

Richard Bigod, Earl of Norfolk. The Manor and Hundred were bought by the late 2nd Earl of Iveagh in the 1920s.

The Manor is no longer directly connected with any land ownership, the freehold title to the land having been registered by the Burhill Group.  The title of the Lordship of the Manor of Bosham is now therefore a purely ceremonial title.


More details about the sale and the process can be obtained from Ian Froome, Partner, Vail Williams LLP, email ifroome@vailwilliams.com, telephone 02392 203200 or at www.vailwilliams.com


Notes to reporters

Vail Williams LLP is one of the largest independent providers of commercial and residential property advice in the UK.

Recognised as one of the Best Places to Work in Property by Property Week (2017), and holder of the Silver accreditation from Investors in People, the firm has 46 partners and 170 staff based across its eight offices in the Midlands and south of England (Birmingham, Crawley, Woking, Heathrow, London, Portsmouth, Reading, Southampton).

It provides business-centred property solutions for its clients based across the UK and beyond and has won a number of industry awards including: Best Commercial Agent/Chartered Surveyor (Surrey Property Awards 2018); Employer of the Year (Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce Business Awards 2018); Commitment to People Development (Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce Business Awards 2018); Property Client Service Award (Thames Valley Property Awards 2018); Top Office Agent and Industrial Dealmaker for Portsmouth (CoStar, 2018); the Thames Valley Property Award for Client Service; Best Professional Property Services Company at the Surrey Property Awards (2015-2017).

Vail Williams has particular expertise in business rates advice and further expanded its business rates team following the acquisition of business rate specialists Bisset Moffatt Hill (2016) and the general rating division of Ruddle Merz (2017).

In 2018 Vail Williams merged with Hughes Ellard and acquired Surrey-based advisers New Ballerino.