About Me

My photo
Worthing, Sussex, United Kingdom

Monday, 7 March 2011

The City of Chichester

Took the train out to Chichester today, a journey I enjoy as it passes one of the best views, if not in the whole of the British Isles, certainly in the south - that of the town of Arundel with it's castle and cathedral. It's every tourist's idea of what Britain looks like, but it's a stunning view that I never tire of.

The same cannot be said for Chichester outside the walls. The station is a hideous modern construction, and the environs seem to have been constructed in an orgy of misguided planning in the last fifties. The austerity of the times is reflected in the buildings, which wouldn't be out of place is some grim east European town, or one of those grrotty new towns, like Peterborough. One day someone will love these buildings, but hopefully by then they will have been thinned out from the built environment by judicious use of the wrecking ball.

Thankfully a walk around the walls soon takes one away from the austeroty of the post-war years and back in time to middle ages.

It's not difficult to find the walls, follow them east (right) from near the station and toward Priory Park.

Priory Park is all that's left of the monastic settlement here, washed away at the Reformation by the cash hungry clerks of Henry VIIIth, that great and terrible monarch, just a solitary building stands testement to the great community that once flourished here.

The walls can be walked for quite some way. Chichester is fortunate that a large part of the city walls have survived intact, much as they have at Chester. The difference is that the walls at Chester are Roman and of the local red sandstone, here they are later and constructed in the abundant local flint.

After walking the walls as far as the Bishop's garden, descend through attarctive flower beds, past the Bishop's Palace and toward the cathedral. Recent restoration has tidied up the building, as it has with recent work on several major religious houses across the country. Outside stands a delightful bell tower, the very top of which is a replica of the latest section of the West Tower at Ely Cathedral.

Inside the cathedral is sparse. It doesn't have the abundance of tombs and memorials found elsewhere, which has an uncluttered feel. There is no great painted ceiling, as at Ely, nor does it have the size and atmosphere of Canterbury. There are several modern works of art, but more impressively some intact original medieval drawings on the walls. There are also early carvings found elsewhere and transferred here, and a glimpse of the Roman buildings that stood here before the cathedral was built.


Exiting the cathedral turn left, and retrace your steps past the Bishop's garden toward the deanery, turn left along Canon Place and walk through one of the orginal precinct gateways, a right turn will lead you south back to the station.

No comments:

Post a Comment