Sir Patrick Moore
Sir Patrick Moore is one of Selsey's famous residents. He chose Selsey as his home because of its low levels of light pollution and atmospheric conditions.
Sir Patrick Alfred Caldwell-Moore was born in Middlesex in 1923, moving with his family to Bognor Regis before settling in East Grinstead where he grew up.
Home educated due to health problems, Moore developed his interest in astronomy age 7, wrote his first scientific paper aged 13 and was invited to run an observatory at the age of just 14.
During World War II, Moore served as a Royal Air Force bomber navigator, after this turning down the opportunity of formal education at Cambridge University to become a full-time writer.
The Sky at Night
His aim was always to spread interest in astronomy and in 1957, the BBC offered him the television series The Sky at Night which he presented for more than 55 years, missing only one episode due to poor health in 2004.
All episodes since were then presented from his home in Selsey.
Sir Patrick Moore moved to Selsey in 1967, purchasing his home Farthings, in West Street, a part Tudor thatched cottage, for £4,000.
He chose Selsey due to the atmospheric conditions which are particularly good for astronomy and the low levels of light pollution affecting the night sky and made use of these conditions, building four observatories in the garden of his home.
He was devastated when these were destroyed in a storm in 1998.
A keen cricketer, Moore played cricket well into his 70’s and was an active member of Selsey Cricket Club for over 40 years. Not much of a batsman and a ‘bad fielder’, Moore concentrated on bowling, although with a somewhat unorthodox action for a leg-spinner.
In 1974, members of Selsey Cricket Club travelled to London to surprise Moore on his guest appearance of This Is Your Life and the Sir Patrick Moore Cup is still competed for annually in Selsey between Selsey Cricket Club and The Thespian Thunderers.
Dr Brian May's Connection
Dr Brian May, the Queen guitarist and astrophysicist, was one of Patrick’s greatest friends and described the older man as ‘a father figure’ and credited him for encouraging May to study for his own PhD.
Sir Patrick’s home, Farthings, was purchased from Moore in 2008 for above market value by Dr Brian May. This purchase was made so that Patrick could continue to live there until his death, paying a peppercorn rent.
Sir Patrick Moore passed away in this home on 9th December 2012 aged 89.
Subsequently Dr Brian May attempted to have Farthings turned into a museum and although its location made this dream impossible.
Moore’s legacy lives on with the Science Museum taking the majority of his vast collections and a Blue Plaque placed on his home for all to see and remember.
In 2021, Dr Brian May travelled down to Selsey to unveil one of the Seal's on the Selsey Seal Art Trail, this is piece dedicated to the dark skies in the area and comes complete with a free to use telescope. Look closely and you may recognise the face...! Dr May stated “On a spot where I used to occasionally roam with Sir Patrick, I was able to unveil an intriguing memorial to his legacy."
BBC's The Sky At Night - Sir Patrick Moore's Final Episode - Reaching For The Stars 06-01-2013
In this episode Sir Patrick Moore and his team, including Dr Chris Lintott and Pete Lawrence among others, beginners are shown how to set up their first telescopes - and what to seek out in the winter skies. There are historical clips too including The Transit of Venus star party in Sir Patrick Moore's garden (where you can just spot Dr Brian May in dark shorts and dark t-shirt in the background). The episode closes out with a poignant sequence of clips of Patrick's "Goodnight" filmed over the decades.