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Chichester ( ) is a cathedral city in West Sussexmarker, South-East England. It has a long history as a settlement; its Roman past and its subsequent importance in Anglo-Saxon times are only its beginnings. It is the seat of a bishopric, with a 12th century cathedral, and is home to some of the oldest churches and buildings in Great Britainmarker.

Chichester today is a local government stronghold, with three levels of government being administered there. It is also a transport hub, and the centre for culture in the region, with a Festival theatre and two art galleries. Nearby Chichester Harbour, together with the South Downs and the city walls, provide opportunities for outdoor pursuits.

History

It has been argued that the area was a bridgehead for the Roman invasion of Britain. The city centre stands on the foundations of the Romano-British city of Noviomagus Reginorummarker, capital of the Civitas Reginorum, and near to the Roman Palace of Fishbourne. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle it was captured towards the close of the fifth century, by Ælle, and renamed after his son, Cissa. It was the chief city of the Kingdom of Sussex. The Roman road of Stane Street, connecting the city with Londonmarker, started at the east gate, while the Chichester to Silchester road started from the north gate. The city streets have a cross-shaped layout, inherited from the Romans: radiating outwards from the medieval market crossmarker lead the North, South, East and West shopping streets. Quite a lot of the city walls are in place, and may be walked along over what still remains .

An amphitheatre was built close to what would have been the city walls, outside the East Gate in around 80 AD. The remains are now buried under land currently used as a park, but the bank of the amphitheatre is clearly discernible and a notice board in the park gives more information.

Governance

Chichester, although in terms of local government in England is a civil parish, has the status of a city, and is one of six so designated, the others being Elymarker, Herefordmarker, Riponmarker, Truromarker and Wellsmarker. The City Council consists of twenty elected members serving four wards of the city - North, South, East, and West.

In addition to its own council offices, those of the Chichester Districtmarker and the West Sussexmarker County Council are also located here. The current MP for the Chichester Constituency is Andrew Tyrie.

Chichester has an unusual franchise in its history. Chichester's residents had enjoyed political enfranchisement for 300 years before the 19th century Reform Bills expanded the right to vote for members of Parliamentmarker to include most ordinary citizens. However, when the mayor restricted the vote to only Freemen in the election of 1660 for the Convention Parliament that organized the restoration of the monarchy, the House of Commonsmarker noted that "for One-and-twenty Parliaments, the Commonalty, as well as the Citizens, had had Voice in the electing of Members to serve in Parliament; and that thereupon the Committee were of Opinion, that the Commonalty of the said Borough, together with the free Citizens, have Right of Election" and overturned the election, seating instead the candidate elected by the more-inclusive Commonality of Chichester, and jailing the mayor for two weeks for contempt because of his wilful denial of the ancient rights.

Geography

The 8 areas of Chichester Conservation
The City of Chichester is located on the River Lavantmarker south of its gap through the South Downsmarker. This winterbourne often dries up during the summer months, and for part of its course runs through the city in underground culverts. The City's site made it an ideal place for settlement, with many ancient routeways converging here. The oldest section lies within the Medieval walls of the city, which are built on Roman foundations.

The Chichester Conservation Area, designated for its architectural and historic interest, encompasses the whole of the Roman town, and includes many Grade I and II listed buildings. Further to the north lies the separate conservation area around Graylingwell Hospital, and to the south, the Chichester Conservation Area has been extended recently to include the newly restored canal basin and part of the canalmarker itself. The Conservation Area has been split into eight 'character' areas, based on historic development, building type, uses and activities.

Climate

Economy

The city today has made use of its past and has built a large tourist industry. Several marinas are situated in the area together with related industries. The Northshore shipyard is located in Chichester. This shipyard is known for building the Southerly and Fisher (motor)sailing yachts.

Main sights

Chichester Cross.
Chichester Cathedralmarker, founded in the 11th century, is dedicated to the Holy Trinity, and contains a shrine to Saint Richard of Chichester. Its spire, built of the weak local stone, collapsed suddenly and was rebuilt during the 19th century. In the south aisle of the cathedral a window in the floor affords a view of the remains of a Roman mosaic pavement. The cathedral is unusual in Britain in having a separate bell tower a few metres away from the main building, rather than integrated into it. Within the cathedral there is a medieval tomb of a knight and his wife, the inspiration of the poem "An Arundel Tomb", by Philip Larkinmarker. A fine memorial statue also exists of William Huskisson, once member of parliament for the city, but best remembered as the first man to be run over by a railway engine. Leonard Bernstein's Chichester Psalms were commissioned for the cathedral.

In addition to the cathedral there are five Church of England churches, St Richard’s Roman Catholic church and nine religious buildings of other denominations.

The remains of the Roman amphitheatre are now buried under land south of The Hornet, currently used as a park, but the bank of the amphitheatre is clearly discernible and a notice board in the park gives more information.

The Butter Market in North Street was designed by John Nash, and was opened in 1808 as a food and produce market. In 1900, a second storey was added to the building, originally housing an arts institute. It is currently still in use by various small business, however Chichester City Council are soon to carry out a full scale renovation of the building, leaving the future of some of the current retailers in some doubt.

The Corn Exchange in East Street was built in 1833, one of the first in the country. It is an imposing building, designed to show off its importance to trade. In 1883 it was also used for drama and entertainment. From then it became a cinema (1923-1984), a restaurant, and then a McDonalds fast food restaurant. It is currently occupied by Next clothing retailers.

The Chichester Crossmarker, a one-time site for the market, stands at the intersection of the four main roads in the centre of the city.

Transport

Chichester is the hub of several main roads. The most important of these is the A27 coastal trunk road connecting Eastbournemarker with Southamptonmarker. The secondary coastal road, the A259, which began its journey at Folkestonemarker in Kentmarker, joins with a junction with the A27 here and ends in Havant to the west. Both those roads make east-west connections. Three roads give Chichester access to the north: The A29 from London, which has also joined the A27 to the east of the city; and the A285, which gives access to Petworthmarker and another cross-country road (the A272); and finally the A286, heading towards Guildfordmarker.

Stagecoach South East bus company has its headquarters here.

Chichester railway stationmarker, on the West Coastway Line, has regular services to Brightonmarker, London Victoriamarker via Gatwick Airport, Portsmouthmarker, Southamptonmarker and Basingstokemarker. In the past there was a branch line to Midhurst in the north; and a light railway built by Colonel HF Stephens known as the West Sussex Railway which ran south to Selseymarker, and which closed in 1935.

There are several long distance routes for walkers, cyclists and riders in the area, some of which, like the Centurion Way to West Deanmarker start here. Centurion Way was opened in the Mid 1990s and runs along the former railway line. The name was chosen by Ben Adams, a local schoolboy who won a competition to the name the path.

Education

There are three secondary schools in Chichester: the Chichester High School for Boysmarker and the Chichester High School For Girlsmarker, located on the Kingsham Campus; and the Bishop Luffa Schoolmarker. In the primary sector there are two infant-only schools: Lancastrian and Rumboldswyke; the Central CofE Junior School; four all-level schools; and two special-needs schools at Fordwater and St Anthony’s. There is also a Roman Catholic school, St Richard’s primary.

In the independent sector there are three day preparatory schools in Chichester (Oakwood, Prebendal Schoolmarker and Westbourne House), alongside the state primary schools.

The higher and further educational institutions include the Chichester High Schools Sixth Form, which is the largest Sixth Form in West Sussex. It offers a range of A-Level and vocational courses with full use of a wide-range of facilities at both Boys & Girls High Schools. Chichester Collegemarker, formerly Chichester College of Arts, Science and Technology; offers both foundation-level and degree-equivalent courses, mainly focused towards vocational qualifications for industry. The College has recently made significant investment in upgrading facilities, and is now offering a wider range of subject areas in its prospectus.

Finally, the University of Chichestermarker which was granted degree-awarding body status by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority in 2005. Whereas Chichester College has always been focused towards vocational qualifications, the University of Chichester has a more academic focus (mainly in The Arts).

Culture

Chichester Festival Theatre
The city holds an annual three-week arts and music festival (“Chichester Festivities“) held in July.

Its most prestigious cultural location is the Chichester Festival Theatremarker, one of the United Kingdommarker’s flagship theatres, whose annual summer season attracts actors, writers and directors from the West End theatremarker.

Pallant House Gallerymarker, winner of the 2007 gallery of the year Gulbenkian Prize has a major collection of chiefly modern British art and in 2006 opened its new extension that houses the collection of Professor Sir Colin St John Wilson. It also has a changing programme of exhibitions.

Since 2007, the week long annual I AM JOY Arts and Music Festival in August has exhibited artworks, showcased bands, contemporary dance, theatre and run workshops across different venues in the city. The festival has since 2008, grown into a high street gallery, magazine, monthly comedy night, film nights and live music nights; from Cabaret to Post-Rock.

Chichester Cinema at New Park is the city's first and only arthouse cinema. It shows a selection of mainstream, small-budget and older films, with showings 7 days a week. Vice presidents are Dame Maggie Smith and Kenneth Branagh. There is also a larger, multiplex cinema located at Chichester Gate.

For a short period In the 90s Chichester started to develop an alternative subculture similar to other cities like Brightonmarker or Manchestermarker, goths, punks, artists and musicians were common in this time of the city’s history. There is still a shop in Crane Street which retails clothing aimed at the alternative music culture.

The following paragraph considers the city’s music scene: in recent years it has experienced growth in various genres.

Music

Chichester Symphony Orchestra

Founded in 1881, the Chichester Symphony Orchestra plays an important part in maintaining the classical music tradition of the area. A friendly group, the orchestra consists of both amateur and professional players who rehearse on a weekly basis, first and foremost, for the enjoyment of playing together. Three concerts are given each year with the summer concert being part of the Chichester Festivities while the autumn concert is included in the Chichester Cathedral Lunchtime Series.

Popular music

A cornerstone of the Chichester music scene is Chichester RAJF (From "Real Ale and Jazz Festival"), a four day festival of music and real ale held each July in tents beside the 13th century Guildhall in Priory Park. Founded in 1981 by members of Chichester Hockey Club as a fund-raising event, the festival has grown in size and ambition. In the early years the focus was on traditional jazz and featured performers such as Kenny Ball, Humphrey Lyttelton and Kenny Baker. In the 1990s blues and R&B were introduced and more recently the festival has increased its capacity to 2500 persons and has offered a wide range of popular music including James Brown, Status Quo, Blondie, Boney M, Robert Cray, Hot Chocolate, Howard Jones, Go West, The Pretenders, The Drifters and Simple Minds. For 2008, Chichester RAJF has announced Squeeze for Sat 12 July. Though the Concert has to finish at 11 0'clock due to the local residents

Blues on the Farm is a festival held every June at Pump Bottom Farm two miles (3.2 km) south of the city. Founded in 1991, it has become the UK's biggest outdoor blues festival hosting many of the top national and international names in a picturesque and friendly environment. Roots Around the World is another such festival, bringing what is described as the best in global music to the city and surrounding village halls.

Sport

Chichester has a cricket club, (Chichester Priory Park CC) which has won the Sussex Premier league 5 times, a rugby club, Chichester R.F.C., and a football club Chichester City United who play in the Sussex County League. The city is also home to the Chichester Sharks Flag American Football Club, members of the English Senior Flag League (ESFL). In October 2007, the Sharks won the National Championship, beating Andover Voodoo 31-29 in the final. The Chichester Sharks also won the title in 2003.

Other sports include hockey and cycling.

The city also offers a well equipped leisure centre with swimming pool, flume, sports hall and fitness room; it also plays host to Chichester Cormorants swimming club.

Notable people

Town twinning

The City of Chichester is twinned with:

References

  1. Chichester City Council website
  2. City councillors
  3. British History Online
  4. Sub-Urban website: River Lavant
  5. City Walls Walk: includes map
  6. Chichester Council Conservation Areas
  7. Chichester Web - The Chichester Guide
  8. Chichester Web’: churches of Chichester
  9. The Corn Exchange
  10. They are the Jessie Younghusband Primary School; Kingsham Primary School; Parklands Community School and Singleton CofE Primary School
  11. The establishment was initially called Bishop Otter College, although throughout its history it has had many names: West Sussex Institute of Higher Education, then Chichester Institute of Higher Education, then University College Chichester
  12. Chichester Festivities
  13. The Website Of Chichester Festival Theatre
  14. Pallant House Gallery
  15. Chichester Cinema At New Park
  16. As an example, Anthony of Antony and the Johnsons originated from the city
  17. Chichester RAJF website
  18. Blues on the Farm
  19. Chichester RFC website
  20. Chichester City United FC website
  21. Chichester Sharks flag American football website
  22. Chichester Hockey Club website
  23. Southdown Velo cycling club
  • Alec Down. Roman Chichester. Chichester: Phillimore, 1988. ISBN 0-85033-435-7



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