The tiny village of Bosham in West Sussex sits on a peninsula in Chichester harbour. It boasts no gastropub, no Michelin-starred restaurant and no foccacia-kneeding bakery and yet its pretty clapboard and Victoriana houses fetch millions when they appear on the market and agents attest there’s always a clutch of buyers waiting to snap them up. So, what’s the appeal?
‘It’s very Swallows and Amazons,’ says Philip Harvey of buying agents Property Vision (01344 651700). ‘Children ride around on their bikes-there are cycle routes all the way to the beach at West Wittering-and they muck around on the water. They’re very free spirits. It’s not a destination place like other coastal resorts in Devon and Cornwall- it’s quiet, very relaxed and easy to get to for a weekend.’ The Bosham Sailing Club stands right in the middle of the village, acting as the centre of the social action.
Bosham is all about sailing,’ says Hugo Thistlethwayte of buying agents Prime Purchase (020-7881 2386). ‘It’s a very pretty creek, which is a haven for dinghy sailing.’ ‘And paddle boarding,’ adds Mr Harvey. For the uninitiated, this involves standing on a board similar that of a windsurfer and using a long paddle to steer-some, Mr Harvey included, have taken to doing yoga on a paddle board in the creek. ‘That’s a good test of balance!’ Therein lies another difference between Bosham and other summer hotspots such as St Mawes or Rock in Cornwall: ‘There, it’s all about ribs and noise-Bosham is altogether more peaceful.’
Five years ago, James Grillo of Chesterton Humberts (020-7594 4746) likened the Chichester Harbour villages of Bosham and Itchenor to the Hamptons on Long Island, USA, where New Yorkers go for weekends in the summer. ‘But that’s changed recently. With the opening of the Hindhead Tunnel removing the logjams on the A3, it’s quicker to reach and, with the maturing of the concept of home working, my clients are no longer just looking for a weekend cottage, but a permanent home.’
As a result, buyers seem to be a younger crowd than anywhere else on the south coast. ‘Bosham and Itchenor buyers are mostly London-based venture capitalists and people from the private-equity world who are still working, but not as a wage slave anymore.’
Such is the draw for London buyers that the vendors of one house on the harbour front have chosen the Brook Green-based firm Finlay Brewer to launch the house on the market in the anticipation that they’ll reach the right buyer. The Old Town Hall has remained in the hands of one family since 1934 and was originally a series of workman’s cottages and the town hall. ‘We bought a cottage in Bosham seven years ago,’ explains Teresa Brewer of Finlay Brewer (020-7371 4171). ‘It’s completely seductive-weekends are like mini-holidays and we anticipate that the buyers of the Old Town Hall will do what we do: base themselves in London and use it at first as a holiday home with a view to moving there permanently one day.’
Some of the most desirable houses, according to Mr Thistlethwayte, arethose across the peninsula from the main harbour in Bosham Cove. ‘It’s a private road with large, expensive houses, many with private slipways into the water.’ Expect to pay from about £1.6 million for an entry-level pieds dans l’eau house and upwards of £2.5 million for something larger.
However, good, harbourside houses in any of the villages in Chichester Harbour aren’t 10 a penny: watch out, later in the summer, when Chesterton Humberts will be launching an important house in the Itchenor area. Mr Harvey says that, in the past few years, he has been ‘lucky enough to buy some of the best harbourside properties in Bosham’ for his clients, some of who are ‘well-known faces’, but he won’t be moved on identities.
‘It’s very discreet and people are left alone.’ But one of the best things about choosing Bosham is, according to Mr Harvey, that it’s so welcoming. ‘Because it’s such a well-worn path, everyone is instantly helpful.
Bosham: Need to know
Sailing Bosham Sailing Club or Itchenor Sailing Club
Racing, rallies and polo Goodwood and Cowdray
Parties and weddings The Blacksmiths Arms, Donnington
Lunch The Kennels at Goodwood; The Royal Oak in East Lavant; Samphire English Kitchen, East Wittering
A pint The Anchor Bleu, Bosham
Finally, Dave the ice-cream man, on the hard at Bosham every day in the summer
** This article was first published in Country Life Magazine on July 2 2014
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