LITTLEHAMPTON, a town and parish, in the hundred of Poling, rape of Arundel, county of Sussex, 4 miles (S.) from Arundel, and 61 (S. S. W.) from London; containing 2270 inhabitants. This place, which is situated on the coast, and on the east bank of the river Arun, was distinguished by the landing of the Empress Matilda, in 1139, to assert her claim to the crown. For a long period it was a very inconsiderable village, inhabited by fishermen; but of late years it has grown into some importance as a place of trade, and, from the fineness of its sandy beach, and the salubrity of its air, has become a favourite and much frequented watering-place. Handsome lodging-houses have been built on the beach, which commands a view of the coast from Brighton to the Isle of Wight. There are several inns: baths have been erected, containing hot, cold, and shower baths, with apartments for shampooing; and a broad terrace, extending for about a mile along the carriage road, affords a delightful promenade. The town is neatly built, and amply supplied with water, and the streets are paved; there are two libraries and reading-rooms.
The trade consists principally in the export of oak timber to the west of England, and the import of corn, coal, timber, Irish provisions, butter, cheese, fruit, wine, oil-cake, and other articles, The harbour is accessible to vessels drawing not more than thirteen feet of water; it is formed at the influx of the Arun into the English Channel, and defended by a fort erected on the bank of the river. There are two yards for ship-building, the one containing a dry dock, and the other a patent-slip; about 200 men are employed, and several vessels of considerable tonnage have been built. A good inland trade is carried on by lighters and small craft, which convey merchandise to Newbridge, near Billingshurst, and thence to the Wye and Thames rivers; and to facilitate the communication, a canal branches off from the Arun a little to the north-west of the town, leading to Chichester, Emsworth, and Portsmouth. An act was passed in 1846 for making a branch railway from the Brighton and Portsmouth line; it will be a mile and a quarter long. The parish comprises 993a. 3r. 29p., of which 650 acres are arable, and 343 pasture and garden-ground. The living is a vicarage, in the patronage of the Bishop of Chichester, with a net income of £150: tithe rentcharges are paid, of £105 to the bishop, £56 to Eton College, £189 to an impropriator, and £93 to the vicar. The church rebuilt in 1826, at an expense of £4000, is a handsome edifice in the later English style, with a square embattled tower. A school was founded by John Corney, Esq., who, in 1805, endowed it with £600 three per cent. consols.; and in 1837, Thomas Compton, Esq., erected spacious schoolrooms on the beach.