Country mouse: A golden summer in Bosham

Quay jumping is a tradition in Bosham, West Sussex, especially when the temperatures are edging the high twenties as they were at the weekend.

Our children needed little encouragement to leap in. As well as being a delightfully unspoilt village in Chichester Harbour, Bosham is an extraordinarily historic place.

It was from here that Harold sailed for Normandy in 1064, a scene represented on the Bayeux Tapestry. And, according to legend, this is where Canute ordered the waves to retreat, but anyone who has seen the tide rushing in would recognise that as a futile exercise. The Danish king’s daughter is buried here and the legendary Sussex giant Bevis was supposed to step across Bosham harbour in one stride using a staff.

This object used to hang in the church and was deployed as a sluggard wakers’ wand when the parish clerk would use it on anyone who fell asleep during the sermon with a tap on the head.

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The fishermen may not be as much in evidence as they once were, but the present atmosphere of relaxation must have been aided by the fact that they had their market fees waived after leaving food at the gates of Chichester for those sealed in during the Great Plague in 1664.

I eschewed the quay jumping for a snooze on the beach at East Head, from which a sluggard wakers’ wand would have been needed to rouse me. Long may this golden summer last.

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* This article was first published in Country Life on July 23 2014