Emsworth, some Miscellaneous Additional History

 Page Contents:

Description of Emsworth from Kelly's Directory 1875
Emsworth - Ships and Shipping
Hayling Island Wadeway
Emsworth - Maritime Archaeology
An Archaeological Study of Oyster Beds at Emsworth
Slipper Mill
Warblington Castle

A Description of Emsworth from Kelly's Directory 1875

EMSWORTH is a small town, and station on the London, Brighton and South Coast railway, in the hundred of Bosmere, Havant union, Portsmouth county court district, diocese and. archdeaconry of Winchester, Havant rural deanery, 861 miles from London, and 2 east from Havant, on the old road to Chichester, on the Sussex border of the county, at the head of an inlet of the sea called Emsworth channel, and opposite to Thorney. 

The manufacture of sailcloth, sacking, rope, twine„ and fishing nets is carried on, and there are a ship yard and two breweries. This place is a member of the ports of Portsmouth and Chichester, and carries on a trade in the importation of coal and exportation of timber and flour  There are several vessels employed in the coasting trade and a considerable number of boats in the oyster fishery for which this town has long been celebrated. The oyster trade is likely to assume an important bearing upon the  place owing to the establishment of beds in the Deeps; these beds are supplied partly by the native fish of Emsworth, and partly by the importation of oysters caught in the English Channel.

Fairs, for toys and pedlery, are held on Easter Monday and Tuesday, and the 18th of July. 

The proprietary chapel of St. Peter is now disused. This place was formed in 1841 into an ecclesiastical district out of Warblington parish. The church of St. James was greeted in 1840, at an expense of 11,5200 it is a neat structure, in the Norman style, built of flint, with stone dressings, and consists of chancel, nave and aisles, with two rectangular turrets, terminating in low spires, at the north. west and south west corners. The register dates from 1841. The living is a rectory, with residence, in the patronage of the rector of Warbling ton, who has endowed it with its own rectorial tithes, amounting to 180 per annum; and held by the Rev. Henry Winter Sheppard, M.A., of Trinity College, Cambridge.

There are National and Infant schools, supported by voluntary contributions ; also places of worship for Baptists and Independents. He is a reading  room, supported by subscription.

The principal landowners are the trustees of John Fenwick. The area is 610 acres; gross estimated rental and rateable value included in Warblington; and the population in 1871 was 1,824.

Parish Clerk, John Chitty

Kelly's Directory 1875



Emsworth - Ships and Shipping

The first reference to a shipyard in Emsworth was during 1700 when John Smith was known to own a yard with two vessels on the stocks. He was wealthy, with house, yard, goods and money totalling 480 out of which material for his yard contributed 160. John Smith the younger was still running the yard in 1738.

There was also a yard at Langstone owned by another Smith in 1738, Mr Robert Smith.

  1. A shipbuilding yard is also marked near Hendy’s Quay in Emsworth.  It is located within a cluster of associated industries including timber yards, a saw mill and a smithy. The oyster carrier Terror restored by Dolphin Quay  Boatyard in Emsworth, was thought built in Emsworth originally during the second half of the 19th century. In 1817, the biggest fishing ports in the harbour were Emsworth (30 boats), Bosham (25) and West Wittering (10); all other places had not more than a handful each. Some boats fished just in the Chichester Harbour, but bigger ones went out to sea. J D Foster of Emsworth built up an oyster dredging fleet of some ten vessels  in the late 19th century, but his oyster beds became polluted by the local sewage works and in 1902 some Emsworth oysters eaten at a banquet in Winchester led to sickness and death, followed by the closure of the local oyster fishery. It was revived again after WW1, but it was ended by WW2. 

Making & export of malt becomes important at Chi and Havant: malt became increasingly important after mid C17 when retail productions of beer & ale began to supplant domestic production. Easy for clothiers to change to being maltsters. As well as Chichester and Havant, smaller scale maltsters existed at Emsworth and Bosham. From17th century on, coastal trade was more important to Chichester Harbourthan foreign trade.

Maritime History of Chichester Harbour
Manhood Peninsula Partnership

Hayling Island Wadeway

This causeway runs from the village of Langstone southwards to Hayling Island and is severed by two channels at all but the lowest of tides. It was long thought likely to date from at least as early as the Bronze Age, when there was significant activity in the area and the Wadeway would have been the only land crossing to Hayling Island until permission was granted to build a bridge in 1817. In 1821 it was cut through by the Portsmouth to Arundel canal.

The first documentary reference to the Wadeway dates to 1552 and the toll for crossing the feature. Later references mention the costs of maintenance. The first cartographic evidence of the Wadeway is found on Taylor’s 1759 map.

A topographical survey and recording of features on the Wadeway was carried out in 2000 in conjunction with local volunteers. Ten timber structures were recorded, which appeared to provide structural support for the causeway.

A more detailed survey in 2008 included excavation work and auger surveys to analyse the composition of the structure and seek artefacts to help in dating the structure. No significant artefacts were discovered, however a combination of radio-carbon dating, palaeoenvironmental analysis and other techniques indicated that the area was terrestrial in nature until at least the Post Roman period, and the causeway is most likely to have been constructed in the 13th or 14th century AD.

By Julie Satchell with contributions by Paul Donohue, Rob Scaife and Simon Bray

See slso: Crossing to Hayling Island - Wadeway & Bridges




Emsworth - Maritime Archaeology

The Maritime Archaeology Trust (MATM joined forces with the Emsworth Maritime and Historical Trust (EMHT) and Chichester and District Archaeology Society (CDAS) to help lead volunteers who spent a soggy and cold January and February in 2008 surveying abandoned oyster beds on the Emsworth foreshore. Volunteers spent long hours on the foreshore racing to record the remains of the beds ahead of the rising tide.

The project, funded by a grant from the Chichester Harbour Conservancy Sustainable Development Fund recorded the remains of several timber-lined pitson the foreshore. These were dug to store oysters for a huge oyster industry that thrived in Emsworth in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The industry collapsed in 1902 after oysters contaminated by typhoid from a new sewer in Emsworth Harbour were served at banquets at Winchester and Southampton. The oysters poisoned several people and killed the Dean of Winchester.

Volunteers were given a day of foreshore fieldwork and survey training by the MAT and a guidance manual was created to assist them in the archaeological survey of the beds. The team recorded numerous beds, the positions of which were recorded with sufficient accuracy to identify the original pond owners from historic maps. The project culminated in a special display on the oyster industry at the Emsworth Museum that incorporated volunteers plans and records of the site.

The Maritime Archaeology Trust

One of the largest structures surveyed was a large post-medieval wharf at Warblington that consisted of three possibly associated features. The wharf was built of square timber piles, some with bracing timbers and iron bolts, a compacted surface – probably a slipway – and the timber posts of a coastal defence revetment.

Archaeological discoveries in Chichester Harbour AONB

Uncovering the Past An Archaeological Study of Oyster Beds at Emsworth

The Emsworth oyster beds were part of a system of natural and artificial beds and pits used to seed, sort and grow oysters. The industry included fleet of dredging vessels to collect oysters from natural and artificial beds as well as from sources abroad. The timber remains of the oyster beds are visible on the foreshore at low tide. Archaeological investigation of these remains was undertaken in 2008. Work
included foreshore survey involving local volunteers and historical research to help understand the development of the site.

Read more: Project Summary Julie Satchell 2008

Slipper Mill



Slipper Mill

In the mid 1700s the dockyard in Portsmouth was growing rapidly to counter the threat from the French, and the demand for flour to support both the naval and civil population increased dramatically. Sites for watermills besides the streams had all been developed so the entrepreneurs turned to tidal locations. Slipper Mill was amongst the local mills built in this period. 

Slipper Mill was built by Thomas Hendy in the 1760's as part of his development at the mouth of the River Ems. The mill itself was built close to the bank over the water, with a large flanking store on the site of the present "Slipper Mill" building.  The mill was rebuilt on several occasions following fires caused by the very dusty atmosphere, with overheating bearings being the probable cause. 

In 1912 a great storm swept the mill house away and the miller and his family were relocated in the Roundhouse until Slipper Mill Cottage was built (by Quinnells (IoW) Ltd).  The mill was sold with a restrictive covenant in 1936, and finally ceased working in 1939.  It was later demolished as was the former store which was converted into dwelling units for sale in 1970.

The undershot mill-wheel (see right) is still in position. The tail race opening can be seen underneath the balconies on the West side of the building.  


Traces of the foundations of the mill wall flank the garage wall on the North side of the complex.



Slipper Mill Pond Preservation Association





Warblington Castle Warblington Castle

In Roman times there may have been an outpost here to guard the ford, but as there was no quarry stone available on the spot, it would consist of only a low substructure of bricks with a timbered upper part and of only one storey. If there was a house in Saxon days it would be wholly of timber beams in a district where wood was so plentiful and stone so scarce.

Margaret of Salisbury is the first person of whom we hear definitely as having an important house at Warblington, and it was probably she who built the great castle. She certainly dwelt there habitually in her later years and we may picture her walking with her household to the  old Church and entering by that beautiful timbered porch which even in her day was at least 150-years-old.

The castle was completed around 1520 and detailed building accounts for the years 1517/18 survive. A survey carried out in 1632 describes it as follows:

"The Castle formed a quadrangle deeply moated round on every side, with an entrance from the west, over a drawbridge and beneath an arched gateway, flanked with turrets at each corner, a porter's lodge to, the south, and an armoury to the north. The south quadrangle comprised the Chapel, 42 feet by 32 (13 metres by 10), and the Great Hall, 58 feet by 32 (18 metres by 10), communicating at one end with a small cellar and at the other with the buttery, kitchen, cellar and brewery, and from hence were the dishes conveyed to the buttery-hatch within the screen of the Hall. The state apartments were at the northern quadrangle, and a gallery and sleeping rooms above. The stone with which the building was faced came from the Isle of Wight, but the mouldings and ornamental parts were of the fine-grained stone of Caen in Normandy."  

Warblington Castle

In 1643 when the parliamentarians besieging Portsmouth (where Goring was holding for the King) and Arundel Castle perceived its strategic importance as commanding the harbours of Langstone and Emsworth and attacked it ‘with 60 soldiers and 100 muskets’. From a letter to Sir William Waller, commanding the forces before Arundel Castle, the writer says he:

"Has not yet had a reply to the message sent to Arundel Castle,’ and that ‘they have taken the Strong House at Warblington, which commands a pretty port and will be of good advantage."

 The castle seems to have been then dismantled (the lead roofing went as a matter of course to make bullets) and to have fallen into ruin, some of the stones being carried off to Havant and some to Emsworth where they were used to build old walls and houses still standing in the town. The Cotton family retired to a farmhouse of theirs at Bedhampton where they remained for many years, still keeping up their connection with Warblington, for Richard Cotton was buried here in 1695, as was his young son Francis, who predeceased him. Viscount Combermere of the Cheshire family is a descendant of the Cottons of Warblington, and bears the same arms.

Warblington Its Castle and Its Church Havant History Booklet No.62


More History

Listed Buildngs
Roofline outlines of Ennsworth's
medieval past
The Emsworth Oyster Fishery
Fishermans Walk
The History of Emsworth's  Public Houses

The Church of St Thomas Becket,  Warblington
Crossing to Hayling Island - Wadeway & Bridges
Lumley Mill
Then & Now

Some Miscellaneous Local History
An Emsworth Time Line
Emsworth, Historical References
and Sources
Emsworth Maritime & Historical Trust
(External Link)
Emsworth a King John Era Town




Contact:  T. 07804554515  E. info@emsworthonline.co.uk