Sunday, February 07, 2016

The Historical Charm of Shoreham by Sea

Yesterday I was in Shoreham-by-Sea in West Sussex, doing a talk at the library there to celebrate National Libraries Day. I’ll be blogging more about libraries tomorrow on the Word Wenches but here I wanted to share what a charming historical town Shoreham is. I love going to new-to –me places and having the chance to explore and I'll definitely be going back to Shoreham. I love the seaside anyway and when it's combined with a history of smuggling, wreckers and lots of other Georgian derring-do it's irresistible!

Shoreham (rather like Swindon only different!) developed in two parts. Old
Shoreham was founded in pre-Roman times, whilst the port and town of New Shoreham was established by the Normans in the 11th century. It’s “new” in the same sense that the New Forest is new – only a thousand years old.

Strolling through the town, I was particularly drawn to the old church of St Mary De Haura (St Mary of the Haven) and the narrow cobbled streets around it. The church was begun in 1103 and is now only half of its original size. Part of the nave had fallen down by the end of the 17th century and the ruins are in the graveyard. It’s not clear exactly why it collapsed. Some explanations suggest that the loss of half the town due to the encroaching of the sea forced the population to leave and there was not sufficient money for the church’s upkeep. Another idea is that was possibly used as an ammunition store or stabling in the English Civil War of the 1640s and was struck by cannon fire. The weather also takes its toll. There were a number of violent storms along the coast in the 14th and 15th centuries and the Great Storm of 1703 flattened some of the stone built buildings in the town. Whatever the cause, it had a very ancient and atmospheric feel to it yesterday, when the wind was once again howling through the town as another storm blew in.

1 comment:

Elizabeth Hawksley said...

It sounds - and looks - a lovely place, Nicola. I do hope you're going to tell us about the smuggling, wrecking and deeds of derring-do in a future post. Or are you saving it up for a novel? It's obviously a place which would make a wonderful setting.