“Hayling Island, Hayling Island, what did I expect to see? Beetling cliff and chalky highland and the salt spray splashing me? But this was quite the wrong picture, the ripple and suck of a smooth tide flooding over silvery mud and salt covered vegetation of the marshes……..a stately Georgian crescent worthy of Brighton itself, but unfinished, two large Georgian house near it, and some Italian-style houses behind, show that Hayling Island has been loved for its sands for over a century”.
When the nation’s favourite poet John Betjeman wrote his ode to Hayling Island, he clearly struck an accurate note. Although we have since lost so many of the buildings he so admired, the essence of his description is as true today as it was over 60 years ago, for Hayling is still a place of surprises, and quite a few secrets.
Our island has been held in high esteem for millennia. The Celts believed islands were holy places and established a temple in North Hayling which the Romans chose as the site for their own seven storey tower. This was connected to the mainland by the ancient Wadeway and our later gateway to Hayling through the picturesque village of Langstone.
Some great characters have chosen the island as their home, from William Padwick whose scheme to turn our island into a second Brighton eventually went so awry, to writer and aviation pioneer Nevil Shute, and W. T. Stead the Victorian social reformer, and John Marshall builder of Seacourt, but most outstanding for his work on mosquito control.
With 150 pages and over 370 pictures its worth a look!