Hayling Island

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Hayling Island


Hammer-shaped, Hayling Island
between Selsey Bill and Portsea Island

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Location: 50°46’60"N, 0°58’0"W
Population: 16,887

Hayling Island is an island of Hampshire off the south coast of Great Britain. It is one of the scattered and sundered pieces of land along Hampshire’s south coast, a coast of shallows, shoals, bays and harbours reached by narrow, silty channels. The City of Portsmouth sits on Portsea Island immediately to the west of Hayling.


An iron-age shrine in the north of Hayling Island was later developed into a Roman temple in the first century BC and was first recorded in Richard Scott's Topographical and Historical Account of Hayling Island published in 1826. The site was excavated between 1897 and 1907 and again from 1976 to 1978. Remains are no longer visible and are buried beneath cultivated farmland.[1]

Salt production was an industry on the island from the 11th century (the Domesday Book records a saltpan on the island for this purpose) until the late 19th century.

Construction of Northwode Chapel by the monks of Jumièges in Normandy, began in about 1140 and this became the present St Peter's Church and now the oldest surviving church on the Island. It has been claimed that St Peter's three bells, cast in about 1350, have one of the oldest peals in Britain. St Mary's Church is a standard design of the churches of its era, but upon close examination the walls have been constructed from a mortar of local shells and beach pebbles. The ancient yew tree in the churchyard is believed to be the oldest yew in the country, with a girth of some nine metres. Although estimates as to its age vary, they range from over a thousand to nearly two thousand years old.[2]

The grave of Princess Yourievsky (1878-1959) who was a member of the ill-fated Russian Royal family and who lived in North Hayling for many years, may be found in St. Peter's churchyard;[3] and the grave of George Glas Sandeman, nephew of the founder of Sandeman Port and second head of that company,[4][5] is prominently featured in the north-east part of St. Mary's graveyard.[6]

The island was the location of a mock invasion during the military exercise Fabius in May 1944, rehearsing the preparations for D-Day.[7]

In 1982, British courts recognised prior art by Peter Chilvers, who as a young boy on Hayling Island assembled his first board combined with a sail, in 1958. It incorporated all the elements of the modern windsurfer. The courts found that later innovations were "merely an obvious extension" and upheld the defendant's claim based on film footage.[8] This court case set a significant precedent for patent law in the United Kingdom, in terms of Inventive step and non-obviousness. The case, Chilvers, Hayling, and a replica of Chilvers' original board were featured on an episode of the BBC's The One Show in 2009.[9]

On October 20 2013, at least one hundred properties on the island were damaged when it was hit by a tornado. No injuries were reported.[10][11]


Hayling Island is a true island, completely surrounded by sea. Looking at its north to south orientation, it is shaped like an inverted T, about four miles square. A road bridge connects its northern end to the mainland of Hampshire at Langstone. A small passenger ferry connects it to the neighbouring island of Portsea and the city of Portsmouth.

To the west is Langstone Harbour and to the east is Chichester Harbour.

The natural beach at Hayling was predominantly sandy but in recent years it has been mechanically topped with shingle dredged from the bed of the Solent in an effort to reduce beach erosion and reduce the potential to flood low lying land. At low tide, the East Winner sandbank is visible, extending a mile out to sea. The coastline in this area has substantially changed since Roman times: it is believed much land has been lost from the coasts of Hayling and Selsey by erosion and subsequent flooding.


The island supports several churches of different denominations including 3 of the Church of England:

  • St Peter's at Northney
  • St Mary's at Gable Head
  • St Andrew's in South Hayling

Sport and leisure

Hayling Island has a non-League football club, Hayling United F.C., which plays at Hayling College.

Although largely residential, Hayling is also a holiday, windsurfing and sailing centre, the site where windsurfing was invented.

In summer 2010, the Hayling Island Sailing Club hosted the 2010 World Laser Standard Senior and Junior Championships (27 August-5 September). The Senior championship was won by Australian Tom Slingsby, whilst Dane Thorbjoern Schierup won the Junior competition.[2]

The Island also boasts one of the few active Real Tennis courts in the UK. Founded in 1911, Seacourt Tennis club is one of only a handful in the UK where it is possible to play every recognised racquet sport. The racquets court itself was opened by Sir Colin Cowdrey.

Hayling Golf Club has been voted in the top 100 golf courses in the UK. A traditional links course, although relatively short by modern standards, the strong prevailing south-westerly winds, fast greens, gorse bushes and traditional deep links bunkers make this a stern test for any golfer.

A funfair (Funland[12]) situated at Beachlands, is open year round, as is the East Hayling Light Railway which runs from the funfair to Eastoke corner.

The 5-mile Hayling Billy Trail is a former light rail right-of-way which has been converted to one of many footpaths on the island.[13] The Ordnance Survey Explorer 120 map covers the area[14] and the local tourist information office supplies leaflets of local interest walks.[15]

The Station Theatre hosts a variety of plays staged by the Hayling Island Amateur Dramatics Society, Hayling Musical Society, musical events and films throughout the year.[16][17] Hayling Island was also the birthplace and home of actress Stephanie Lawrence who starred in many West End musical shows, she was for many years close friends with Windsurfing inventor Peter Chilvers also from Hayling.

Local hotels, holiday centres, bed and breakfast accommodation, holiday homes and caravans for rent, all support this year-round tourist resort.

Terra Firma Landscape Architects (Hampshire) led a team including HGP Architects [Architects of Portsmouth's Spinnaker Tower] and Planning Solutions [Leisure/Viability consultants] in creating a regeneration masterplan strategy for the Hayling Island Seafront on behalf of Tourism South East and Havant Borough Council. The team are now involved in the first stage of development at West Beach for an extreme sports centre. The island is also well known by sea angling enthusiasts and at various times of the years plaice, black bream, mackerel,bass,cod and whiting can be taken. Also clams and cockles are frequently harvested in the surrounding harbours.


Beaches at Hayling Island.

The Hayling Ferry[18] is the most convenient way to travel between Portsmouth and Hayling Island. The Ferry is busy in the summer if the weather is good, bringing tourists and cyclists to Hayling.[19] In the winter, there is a significant reduction of use, and the ferry service to and from Portsea Island is subsidised by the local authorities. This leaves the ferry under constant threat of closure due to limited resources.

Apart from the ferry the only public connection between Hayling Island and the mainland is a single carriageway road linking Northney to Langstone, Havant. In summer in particular this road can become very congested rendering the journey between the bridge and South Hayling (the most populated area) anything from 30 minutes to an hour. A proposed Millennium project to create a new shared pedestrian and cycle bridge was unsuccessful.[20]

Until 1963 when the line was closed, Terrier steam locomotives pulled carriages along the 5-mile (8-km) Hayling Billy Line from Havant Station on the mainland to a station which was located at the northern end of Staunton Avenue, passing through Langstone where there was a Halt.[21] The only remaining railway building, a goods shed, has now been converted into a theatre which is run by Hayling Island Amateur Dramatic Society.[22]

A tourist attraction — the East Hayling Light Railway — is a narrow gauge railway that runs for just over a mile from Beachlands Station to Eastoke Corner with aspirations to extend the route to Ferry Point within the next few years.

Hayling oysterbeds

Oysters have been fished on the Hayling oysterbeds, at the northwest corner of the island, as long ago as Roman times, documented in town records since 1615.[23] The oysters were actively farmed between as early as 1819 until the 1970s.[24] Oysters became a delicacy that was exported throughout the country under the classification of “Emsworth Oysters”. Large complexes consisting of several pens separated by a series of bund walls and sluice gates were built to contain the oysters at varying stages of growth. Although large sections of the walls have since collapsed into the harbour, much of shape and scale of the beds can still be seen today.

In 1996, the oyster beds on the north west coast of Hayling Island were restored by the Havant Borough Council,[24] creating a wildlife haven which has become an important seabird breeding site. The Design Council awarded this project 'Millennium Product' status for the renovation.

Paris To Hayling Charity Cycle Ride

The island is the home of the Hayling Charity Cycle Ride.[25] This event, run entirely by local unpaid volunteers, was started in 1986 and has been run every year since. Up to 2012 just over £1,275,000 has been collected for more than 500 good causes. Entrants have come from 15 different countries on five continents. Now in its 27th year, the event is moving from its established country of France to Holland, calling this year's event the 'Hayling to Holland Charity Cycle Ride' with 130 riders and support crew.

List of villages



  1. Anthony King; Robert Downey (1977). "Internal Organisation and Deposition at the Iron Age Temple on Hayling Island (Hampshire)". Archived from the original on 2001-01-25. http://web.archive.org/web/20010125075900/http://www.barnarch.u-net.com/Hayling.htm. 
  2. St. Mary's Church Hayling Council website. Retrieved 2010-03-14
  3. Church booklet - Guide to St Peter's Church North Hayling 2003.
  4. Sandeman Archive description AIM25 Archives website. Retrieved 2012-04-20
  5. PORT AND SHERRY Originally published by George G Sandeman & Co (1955), now hosted on Ancestry.com. Retrieved 2012-04-20
  6. St. Mary's Church Hayling Anglican Churches website. Retrieved 2012-04-20
  7. Southampton and D-Day, Ingrid Peckham. Southampton City Council Oral History, 1994. ISBN 1-872649-04-1
  8. "Windsurfing International Inc. v Tabur Marine (GB) Ltd. (1985) RPC 59". SLCC - Scots Law Courseware. The University of Strathclyde. http://slcc.strath.ac.uk/scotslawcourse/ip/ip/patent/windsurf.html. Retrieved 2010-06-20. 
  9. The One Show 7pm BBC1 Friday 5 June! WindWise.net; Simon Bornhoft's WindWise. Retrieved 2010-06-20.
  10. "Hayling Island properties hit by 'tornado'". BBC News. 20 October 2013. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-24601190. 
  11. "‘Tornado’ damages 100 homes in Hampshire’s Hayling Island". Metro. 20 October 2013. http://metro.co.uk/2013/10/20/tornado-damages-100-homes-in-hampshires-hayling-island-4153295/. 
  12. Funland Funfair
  13. Coastal Path - Billy Trail. Visitor Guides; Hayling Island Community Online. Retrieved 2010-06-20.
  14. Ordnance Survey Explorer 120 map. Ordnance Survey National Mapping Agency, 2009. Retrieved 2010-06-20.
  15. Tourist Information Office Beachlands Havant Tourist Information Office. Retrieved 2010-06-20.
  16. Events diary. Hayling Island Station Theatre. Retrieved 2010-06-20.
  17. Current Production. Hayling Musical Society.
  18. [1] Official Schedule
  19. Hayling Ferry History hayling.co.uk.
  20. Hayling Billy Project history. Havant Borough Council website. Retrieved 2010-06-20.
  21. "The Book of Hayling Island and Langstone - More than a Millennium". Rogers,Peter: Tiverton, Halsgrove Press, 2000. ISBN 1-84114-078-3
  22. Hayling Island Amateur Dramatic Society
  23. The borough of Southampton: General historical account - Victoria County History - Hampshire, Volume 3 pages 490–524
  24. 24.0 24.1 West Hayling Local Nature Reserve Havant Borough Council website. Retrieved 2010-03-14.
  25. http://www.hayling-cycle-ride.org.uk