The parish has an area of . In the 2001 census 2,847 people lived in 1,313 households, of whom 1,358 were economically active.
Bosham is colloquially divided into two halves: Old Bosham and New Bosham. New Bosham constitutes the more developed northern half of the village, situated around the A259 road and the railway line. The village is served by Bosham railway station. It is sometimes referred to by its increasingly obsolete original name, Broadbridge. Old Bosham includes the remaining geographical protrusion to the south. This includes the site of the original village around Bosham Harbour, as well as the tracts of farmland and private property of Bosham Hoe. At high tide the sea comes right into the old village, flooding the lower road and several car parking spaces.
Forming a part of Chichester Harbour, Bosham is renowned for its sailing with Bosham Sailing Club being formed in 1907.
The site has been inhabited since Roman times, and is close to the famous villa at Fishbourne. The Romans were responsible for the village's Mill Stream as there was no fresh water, and built a basilica there. Tradition holds that Emperor Vespasian maintained a residence in Bosham, although there is little evidence of this. There are, however, the remains of a villa popularly thought to belong to Vespasian, at the Stone Wall in the parish. Pottery and tile fragments, of both Roman and early British period, have been discovered in the area, confirming pre-Anglo-Saxon activity.
Anglo-Saxon and Norman periods
Much of Bosham's history during the Early Middle Ages is ecclesiastical. Bede mentions Bosham in his book The Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation, speaking of St Wilfred's visit here in 681 when he encountered a Celtic monk, Dicul, and five disciples in a small monastery. The village is one of only five places that appear on the map attached to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle of around this time.
In 850, the original village church was built on the site of the Roman basilica, and in the tenth century was replaced with Holy Trinity Church, situated beside Bosham Quay, that still serves as the local place of worship. There is a tradition that a daughter of Canute the Great drowned in a near-by brook and was buried here, although there seems to be little evidence for this. The tradition was originally linked to a fourteenth- or fifteenth-century effigy. In 1865 a coffin containing a child's skeleton was discovered, buried in the nave in front of what is now the chancel of Holy Trinity Church. This was thought to be Canute's daughter.
Canute had a palace in the village, probably where the Manor House now stands, or possibly at the harbour's edge. Legend has it that Bosham was the site at which he commanded the waves to "go back", so as to demonstrate to his overly deferential courtiers the limits of a King's powers.
Bosham is mentioned by name in the Bayeux Tapestry, referring to the 1064 meeting of Harold and Edward the Confessor on the way to meet William of Normandy to discuss who would succeed Edward to the throne:
Harold's strong association with Bosham and the recent discovery of a Saxon grave in the church has led some historians to speculate that King Harold was buried here following his death at the Battle of Hastings, rather than Waltham Abbey as is often reported. The speculation began in 1954, when the nave was re-paved, and the body of King Canute's reputed daughter was re-examined. It was discovered that the body of a richly dressed man was buried beside the child's. A request to exhume the grave in Bosham church was refused by the Diocese of Chichester in December 2004, the Chancellor ruling that the chances of establishing the identity of the body as that of Harold II were too slim to justify disturbing a burial place.
The Domesday Book (1086) lists Bosham as one of the wealthiest manors in England. It included the nearby village of Chidham. Bosham was confirmed to be in the possession of Osbern, Bishop of Exeter, who had been granted the land by his kinsman, Edward the Confessor. It possessed 112 hides (c. 13,000 acres) in different parts of the country.