Set in West Sussex on the River Lavant, Chichester is an historic city, which due to its location offers visitors an opportunity to explore the city, the coast as well as the countryside, ensuring something for everyone. Chichester’s wealth of attractions include museums, galleries and stately homes to visit, in addition to its beautiful cathedral and harbour. A cultural city, Chichester also welcomes many visitors to its annual festivals including the Festival of Chichester, a four week celebration of the music and the arts, as well as Goodwood’s famous Festival of Speed and Glorious Goodwood.
Historic Chichester, or Noviomagus Reginorum as it was called, was a key settlement in Roman times, its location was also a site that the Roman’s built upon to include a Roman Palace (Fishbourne) as well as a large amphitheatre, with development of the settlement to accommodate both the army and civilian population. With the city walls built to secure Chichester, it was also a strategic military site. Similar in design to a number of roman settlements, it also allowed access to London.
With the Anglo-Saxon’s arrival came further development, it is believed the origins of the name Chichester comes from Cissa, the son of the first King of the South Saxons. In later years Alfred the Great, King of the West Saxons, would again build upon the settlement to ensure it remained a military stronghold capable of withstanding invasion.
In 1066, the 1st Earl of Shrewsbury, Roger de Mongomerie, instructed that Chichester Castle be built, the timber construction was used in later years as both a prison and court. Today in the Priory Park area of Chichester, the raised castle mound on which the castle was situated can still be seen.
Work began on the building of Chichester Cathedral in 1076, following the creation of the See of Chichester, the Bishop seat had previously been at Selsey Abbey. Whilst the Cathedral was completed in 1108, it was devastated by fire in 1187 and subsequently rebuilt. In later years the central tower and spire would all be added, and eventually a separate bell tower due to subsidence issues on the site. Today, the cathedral is a magnificent building, featuring both Gothic and Norman styling and home to a wealth of treasures, including rare carvings and roman mosaics.
Chichester is a cultural and historic city, and as such has been a focus in popular culture.
Films & TV
Rosemary and Thyme – starred Pam Ferris and Felicity Kendal as detectives focussed with solving murder mysteries. Chichester Cathedral featured in the ITV series, as well as other scenes being filmed in the city.
Peter Lovesey, the award winning author, lives locally in the Chichester area, and as such has featured Chichester and nearby Selsey in novels such as The Headhunters and The Circle. Lovesey is also known for his Peter Diamond Mystery series of crime novels, as well as the Sergeant Cribb Investigations series.
Andrew Hixson has also chosen Chichester as a focus in his A Handful of Secrets series, a collection of mystery thrillers.
Timothy Peake – 7 April 1972, was born in Chichester and is the first British civilian to become an astronaut after graduating from the European Space Agency.
Harvey Lonsdale Elmes – born in Chichester in 1813 was a renowned architect whose work included the design of the magnificent St George’s Hall in Liverpool, which today consists of both concert halls as well as law courts.
Major-General John Frederick Charles Fuller – born in Chichester on 1 September 1878, Major General Fuller was not only credited as a military strategist, and in time a military historian, but he invented what was known as artificial moonlight, created through the use of searchlights in World War 1, enabling greater bombing activity at night.
The Chichester Cross
Situated in the centre of Chichester, the Chichester Cross was originally the location of the market square, and the point at which the four main streets which run through the city met. This highly decorative stone structure which features several arch shaped entrances and 4 clocks, is believed to have been built during the mid to late 1400’s under the instruction of the Bishop of Chichester.
Goodwood House and Estate
Goodwood House itself is the home of the Duke of Richmond, and open to the public providing a chance to explore this stunning regency stately home and its magnificent art collections. The Goodwood House and Estate are home to the superb Glorious Goodwood horse racing event, as well as motorsport’s Festival of Speed, and Goodwood Revival, events which all attract thousands of visitors from all over the world.
Fishbourne Roman Palace and Gardens
Given its significant Roman history, the Roman Palace transforms you back in time with the museum and discovery centre enabling you to learn more about Roman Chichester. Located within the Palace are the fantastic displays of intricate roman mosaics, and visitors can also explore the Palace’s formal gardens.