History

Bersted is a historic village that can trace its origins back to the 7th Century when it formed part of Pagham. Around that time it passed to the See of Canterbury before being passed to King Henry VIII in 1542. Much of Bersted was returned to the Church in 1556 but then passed back to the Crown some years later, since when large segments have passed into private ownership according to the whims of the various nobles involved. Since then Bersted has split into two separate settlements of North and South Bersted. The original 2,750 acres were reduced to 2,228 acres when Bognor was constituted as a separate parish and under the West Sussex Review Order of 1933 part of Bersted was added to the Urban District of Bognor Regis, so that the present area of the parish is 1,562 acres.

While South Bersted has merged into the Bognor Regis conurbation, North Bersted has become known simply as Bersted. Its eastern boundary is formed by a small stream that joins the Aldingbourne Rife, which itself forms the west boundary for a short distance before turning south-east to run across the parish. The church and village of South Bersted lie between the road to Aldingbourne, here running north-east, and that to Chichester, running north-west. Just off the latter road is the original hamlet of North Bersted with a mission church of the Holy Cross built in 1904. Among the buildings in the North Bersted main street are six or seven flint and brick thatched cottages of the c. 1700 period. In the north of the parish is the somewhat independent hamlet of Shripney which has evolved from a 13th Century hamlet and still contains houses dating from the mid 1600s.

During World War 2 Bersted achieved some local notoriety due to its rather trigger happy Home Guard unit who opened fire on a car full of rowdy RAF pilots returning from a night on the town on at least two occasions, happily with no serious consequences. Bersted was also home to a ‘Starfish’ site which was part of a chain of cleverly designed decoy targets that, when ignited, looked like a burning city from the air. The Bersted facility was situated just to the north of the new relief road and was designed to lure enemy bombers away from Portsmouth. In 1943 an area to the west of Chalcraft Lane was turned into a temporary aerodrome (which became known as Bognor Advanced Landing Ground) and was host to a variety of RAF fighter squadrons flying in support of the D-Day landings in Normandy. The area was returned to farmland immediately after the war.  

Today Bersted is a rapidly growing parish largely due to the twin housing developments of Willows Edge and Bersted Park which are situated on former Church land immediately to the north of the Chichester Road. The 2011 population census gave the Bersted population as 8,496 although this figure will have almost certainly surpassed the 10,000 mark by now. In addition to the growth in housing there has been much industrial & business growth in the east of the parish with a newly constructed Rolls Royce storage and distribution centre situated to the north of the former Oldlands Farm. Additional retail units have sprung up nearby along the Shripney Road such that Bersted now hosts much of Bognor’s out of town retail facilities. In common with many other parishes around the country Bersted has seen a decline in the number of its pubs and today has just three, the historic Royal Oak (aka the Pink Pub due to the vivid nature of its external colour scheme) that is situated at the junction of North Bersted Street and the Chichester Road,  the Robin Hood that sits alongside the A29 in Shripney which has recently been joined by a Premier Inn and the very recently built Charlie Purley Carvery amongst the retail development on Shripney Road.  They regularly receive good reviews from their patrons.

Meanwhile the area immediately to the north of the Bersted Brooks nature reserve is earmarked as a major storage and distribution site within the scope of the Enterprise Bognor Regis zone while plans are afoot to build a further 2,500 dwellings on land to the west of Chalcraft Lane (including much of the former wartime Advanced Landing Ground) in a development to become known as West Bersted. Shripney has recently been cut off from Bersted by the new relief road and access is now only on foot or via the busy A29.  Amidst all of this dramatic development the Parish Council’s aims remain firmly focused on the residents, both established and new arrivals, in order to ensure that our part of your council tax (known as the precept) is used to best effect in order to maintain the facilities and services that we provide and which you can learn more about within the pages of this website. Should you have any questions or queries about the Parish Council’s role, please contact us using any of the methods shown below.