Some notes on the history of Birdham
Birdham lies four miles south of Chichester and is a Parish of approximately acres ( hectares), bounded by the Parishes of Appledram, Sidlesham, Earnley, East Wittering, West Wittering and West Itchenor.
It is believed that two Roman roads met at the present Bell Lane junction and the road led from there to Chichester Harbour and on to Bosham via a ferry or a ford.
In various Parishes on the peninsula south of Chichester, including Birdham, were given by the Saxon king Caedwalla to St Wilfred. This seems to be the earliest mention of Birdham. Birdham appears as Brideham in the Domesday Book of , which also records the presence of a mill.
The Church, which was dedicated to St Leonard until about but is now dedicated to St James, was built in the 14th century and has a 16th century tower. It was much restored in the 19th century.
The area either side of the main A road from Chichester to the Witterings was formerly Birdham Common. It extended from south of Manhood End Farm (17th century) to the Lamb Inn and was enclosed by the Birdham Common Act of . A straight road was later built across it. The original line of the main road from Chichester left the present road and crossed the fields to Martins Lane and from there to the Church.
The Chichester Canal from Birdham to Arundel, with a spur to Chichester from Hunston, was built around and ceased operation in , though there was occasional boat traffic up to . The lockkeeper’s house became the Egremont Arms inn and later a private residence.
In the population of Birdham was and this remained more or less constant until the First World War. The population in was .
Church Lane leads from Birdham Straight to the Church and was originally known as Normans Lane. The Birdham Hotel, at the junction of Birdham Straight and Church Lane, closed in , when it was the Bird and Ham Inn. Cherry Tree Cottage, next door, was the village bakery.
The present Birdham Mill, with its Mill Pond by the harbour, dates from and when it ceased operating in was the last tidal mill in Sussex. It operated for three and a half hours before and after high tide. In the long established Farne family sold their house at Court Barn, the Mill and all its land to Captain H.R.S. Coldicott, who founded Birdham Estates Ltd and enclosed the outer Mill Pool for a harbour for small boats at all stages of the tide.
The Village Hall was opened in 1954 on land sold to the Parish Council in 1951 by William Farne and his sister Mildred Adams. The Hall was completely repaired and refurbished in 2005/6. A Scout Hut was added in .
Also in a new Church of England Primary School was opened in Crooked Lane.
In Chichester Marina, created on former marshes north of Birdham Pool, was flooded for the first time. The northern boundary of the Parish runs through it from west to east.
(see also the Archive notes on the history of Alandale Road)