The village takes its name from the Saxon ‘Scealden Fleote’ meaning shallow creek or stream. It was recorded as ‘Aet Scealdan Fleote’ in the 838. In 1086, in the Domesday Book, Shalfleet was called ‘Selceeflet’.
Neolithic, Bronze age and Roman remains have been found in the village and early Saxon burials have been excavated just to the east of the church, indicating there was a church here before the present medieval building.
There are three manor houses in the Shalfleet area that were mentioned in the Domesday book; the Shalfleet Manor House, Ningwood Manor, and Hamstead Manor.
The area was a good place to settle. The estuary is rich in sea food and is fed by freshwater streams so the fording point at Shalfleet was an obvious place for an early village. The creeks provided safe anchorages for early traders. The village is still centred on the church, manor and inn but new housing extended it in the 1960s and 70s.
Shalfleet Mill is recorded in the Domesday book. Powered by the millrace from the Caul Bourne, it ground flour and cattle food. There was also a bakery here until the 1920s.
The church of St Michael the Archangel is at the cenre of the village, opposite the Manor. The oldest part is the massive Norman tower which once housed a cannon to defend the village against French invasions from the sea. A steeple was added to the tower around 1800 giving rise to the local rhyme: ‘Shalfleet poor and simple people – sold their bells to buy a steeple’. The steeple was removed on 1913.
The quay at Shalfleet that you see today was built in the seventeenth century. The channel of the estuary was deeper long ago, so larger vessels could use it. Salt was made in salt pans on the marsh. Bricks were produced in the area and both products were transported by boat. Coal was landed here and stored in the old stone building. The track from the village to the quay was then an important route. Now it is a pretty walk overlooking Newtown National Nature Reserve owned by the National Trust. There is no public parking at the quay.