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The Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity, otherwise called Chichester Cathedral, is the seat of the Anglican Bishop of Chichester. It is located in Chichestermarker, in Sussex, Englandmarker. It was founded as a cathedral in 1075, when the seat of the bishop was moved from Selseymarker.

Chichester Cathedral has fine architecture in both the Norman and the Gothic styles, and has been called by the architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner "the most typical English Cathedral". Despite this, Chichester has two architectural features that are unique among England's medieval cathedrals- a free-standing medieval bell tower (or campanile) and double aisles. The cathedral contains two rare medieval sculptures, and many modern art works including tapestries, stained glass and sculpture, many of these commissioned by Dean Hussey.

The city of Chichester, though it retains two main cross streets laid out by the Romans, has always been small enough for the city's entire population to fit inside the cathedral at once, causing Daniel Defoe to comment:
I cannot say much of Chichester, in which, if six or seven good families were removed, there would not be much conversation, except what is to be found among the canons, and the dignitaries of the cathedral.

The spire of Chichester Cathedral, rising above its green copper roof, can be seen for many miles across the flat meadows of West Sussex and is a landmark for sailors, Chichester being the only English cathedral that is visible from the sea.


Chichester Cathedral was built to replace the cathedral founded in 681 by St. Wilfrid for the South Saxons at Selseymarker. The seat of the bishop was transferred here in 1075. It was consecrated in 1108 under Bishop Ralph de Luffa. In 1187 a fire which burnt out the cathedral and destroyed much of the town necessitated a substantial rebuilding, which included refacing the nave, and replacing the destroyed wooden ceiling with the present stone vault, possibly by Walter of Coventry. The cathedral was reconsecrated in 1199.

The west front and millennium statue of Saint Richard
In the 13th century the central tower was completed, the Norman apsidal eastern end rebuilt with a Lady chapel, and a row of chapels added on each side of the nave, forming double aisles such as are found on many French cathedrals. The spire was completed about 1402 and a free-standing bell tower constructed to the north of the west end.

In 1262, Richard de la Wyche, who was bishop from 1245 to 1253, was canonised as Saint Richard of Chichester. His shrine made the cathedral a place of pilgrimage. The shrine was ordered destroyed in 1538, during the first stages of the English Reformation. In 1642 the cathedral came under siege by Parliamentary troops.

The towers at Chichester have had a particularly unfortunate history because of subsidence, which explains the positioning of the 15th century bell tower at some distance from the cathedral. The south-west tower of the facade collapsed in 1210 and was rebuilt. The north-west tower collapsed in 1635 and was not rebuilt until 1901. The masonry spire was built in the 14th century and was repaired in the 17th century by Sir Christopher Wren. It survived a lightning strike in 1721 and stood for 450 years before it telescoped in on itself on February 21, 1861, fortunately without loss of life. A fund was set up to raise the £48,000 needed for the rebuilding, and the contributors included Queen Victoria. It was rebuilt, a few feet taller, by Sir George Gilbert Scott and completed in five years. It now rises to a height of 82 metres.


Looking down the nave from the west doors
Typically for English cathedrals, Chichester has had a long and varied building history marked by a number of disasters. The architectural history of the building is revealed in its fabric because the builders of different periods constructed in different styles and with changing technology. Both inside and outside portions of the original Norman cathedral can be distinguished from the later Gothic work by the massive construction and round-topped windows. Different Gothic styles from the late 12th century through to the 15th can also be identified.

The plan of Chichester is in the shape of a cross, with an aisled nave and choir, crossed by a transept (See below). In typically English manner, the eastern end of the building is long by comparison with the nave, is square ended and has a projecting Lady chapel. Also typically English is the arrangement of paired towers on the western front, and a taller central tower over the crossing. Its plan is unusual for England in having double aisles. Chester has a cloister on the south side of the building.

Chichester was small, for a Norman cathedral, when compared with Winchester, Peterborough and Ely. The Norman construction of the early 12th century can be seen in the nave, which rises in the usual three stages of arcade, gallery and clerestory. It is similar to remaining Norman work at Winchester, where the arcade is proportionally low, and rests on solid piers rather than columns. In the gallery above, each wide space is divided into two by a column.

After the fire of 1187, the building was given a ribbed vault in the Early English Gothic style and the eastern end was extended from the round ambulatory to form a square retrochoir or presbytery with lancet windows in a style that is transitional between Norman and Gothic. The vault is supported externally by flying buttresses and large terminal pinnacles at the eastern end. At this time the entire interior was refurbished, much of it being refaced with ashlar masonry. Each pier was decorated with delicate shafts of dark Purbeck marble with foliate capitals, contrasting with the squat cushion capitals of the limestone shafts. The nave is divided from the choir by an elegant Perpendicular screen or pulpitum with three arched openings, called the Arundel Screen, which was removed in the mid 19th century but reinstated in 1961.

The design of the central tower, faithfully reproduced by George Gilbert Scott in the 19th century, was of the Early English style, having on each side two tall pairs of openings, surrounded by deep mouldings. The Lady chapel, constructed to the east of the retro-choir, is a long narrow space, with large windows in the Decorated Gothic style of the late 13th century. The spire, which is masonry rather than of sheathed wood, was built in the late 14th century, by John Mason (died ca 1403), who also built the Vicars' Hall. The style and construction of the spire are obviously based on that of Salisbury Cathedralmarker but it is not as ambitiously tall, probably because of the problem of subsidence.

The other buildings related to the cathedral are the free-standing bell-tower of the early 15th century, probably the work of William Wynford who also designed the cloisters, with openings in the Perpendicular style. St Mary's Almshouses in Chichester, which are linked to the cathedral, are a Christian charity dating from the 13th century. The medieval Hospital, associated with the Alms House, is one of only two such buildings in the world, the other being in Germany.
Plan of Chichester Cathedral
The dimensions of Chichester Cathedral:
Total length 408 ft 123 m
Total width 157 ft 48 m
Internal height 61 ft 18.6 m
Height of spire 277 ft 84.5 m


The cathedral has many treasures and artworks, the most precious being two carved reliefs dating from the 12th century and which are of exceptional rarity among English sculpture. Other ancient treasures include the remains of a Roman mosaic pavement, which can be viewed through a glass window, and a set of thirty eight medieval misericords, dating from 1330, which remain beneath the seats of the choir, despite the fact that the other parts of the choir stalls are largely Victorian reconstruction.

Among the famous graves are those of the composer Gustav Holst and the gothic "Arundel tomb", showing the recumbent knight and his wife holding hands. The tomb was celebrated in a poem by Philip Larkinmarker. Leonard Bernstein composed Chichester Psalms for Chichester Cathedral.The cathedral contains many modern works of art, including tapestries by John Piper and Ursula Benker-Schirmer, a window by Marc Chagall, a painting by Graham Sutherland (Noli me Tangere), and a reredos for the St John the Baptist's Chapel by Patrick Procktor. Outside the cathedral stands a bronze statue of St Richard of Chichester by Philip Jackson.

Dean and Chapter

A boss from the vault
The Dean is the Very Reverend Nicholas Frayling. Educated at the University of Exetermarker and Cuddesdon Collegemarker, Frayling has lectured on inter-faith and political reconciliation. Formerly Canon Precentor of Liverpool Cathedralmarker, he was appointed Dean of Chichester in September 2002.

Chichester's Precentor is Canon Tim Schofield. Educated at Durham Universitymarker and Christ's College, Cambridgemarker, Schofield taught music at Exeter Schoolmarker before his ordination. Before his 2006 appointment to Chichester, he held ministry in Exetermarker and St Albansmarker.

Installed on 30 September 2007, the Chancellor is the Reverend Canon Dr Anthony Cane. Dr Cane has previously been University Chaplain at Brightonmarker, Adult Training Officer in the Diocese of Exetermarker and Adult Education Officer for Chichestermarker.

The Treasurer is Canon Ian Gibson, a former Chaplain to the Bishop of Chichester, John Hind.

Lay members of the chapter are Mrs Sara Stonor and Dr John Dalgleish and Cdre David Mowlam RN who, as Communar, is an ex-officio member.



Main Organ

The earliest organs in the cathedral were destroyed by the forces of Colonel Waller during the period of the Commonwealth. Following the restoration of the monarchy, Renatus Harris built a one-manual organ on the screen in 1678; the pipes of the organ still form the heart of the present instrument. In 1725, John Byfield added the Choir Organ and Thomas Knight added the the third keyboard, the swell, in 1778. Further additions were made in the 19th century by George Pike England (1806) Henry Pilcher & Sons (1829) before, in 1859, the great Victorian organ builder William Hill was employed to move the organ from the screen to its present position. The collapse of the tower and spire in 1861 left the organ a mid-19th century instrument, as all the money that could be raised at the time was spent on the building and furnishings rather than on the organ. The organ was restored further by Hele of Plymouth in 1904, but neglect dictated by financial constraints meant that in 1972 its working mechanism was in such a parlous state that the organ had to be abandoned as unplayable. After a silence of fourteen years it was eventually restored by Manders in 1984-86. Today it is widely regarded as a very special part of the heritage of English organs and it is the only surviving example of an English classical, rather than romantic, cathedral instrument.

Nave Organ

The Nave Organ was a gift of the Poling Charitable Trustmarker, the Nave Organ was built by Manders as part of the organ project in 1986. With one manual of six stops, plus a single pedal stop, the Nave Organ is designed to reinforce the presence of the main organ in the nave, or for use in its own right for in the "nave-only" services. The Nave Organ can be played either from its own console downstairs, or direct from the main organ.

Walker Organ

The Walker Organ is a continuo instrument of one manual (no pedals) containing six stops and an integral blower. It is usually housed in the Lady chapel, and accompanies services held in that part of the cathedral. It is, however, readily moveable and is frequently used for concerts of baroque music in the nave.

Hurdis Organ

The Hurdis Organ was built c.1780 at least partly by the Reverend James Hurdis, who was headmaster of the Prebendal Schoolmarker who went on to be Professor of Poetry at Oxford Universitymarker. In 1947, the Hurdis family gave the organ to the Prebendal School who, in turn deposited it on loan to the cathedral. It is currently housed in the retrochoir, where it is regularly used to accompany services at the Shrine of St. Richard.

Allen Organ

The Allen Organ was brought into the cathedral in 1972, at the time when the main organ was abandoned, and was used to accompany all main services intil 1986 when the main organ came back into use. Thereafter, the Allen Organ was repositioned in the triforium at the west end of the cathedral as a concert organ. It is one of the earliest digital electronic organs in this countrymarker and continues to play an important part in the provision for musical events in the cathedral.

Cathedral organists

Organists and Masters of the Choristers

  • 1545 William Campion
  • 1550 Thomas Coring
  • 1560 Edward Piper
  • 1569 Michael Woods
  • 1571 Clement Woodcock
  • 1599 Jacob Hillarye
  • 1602 Thomas Weelkes
  • 1623 William Eames
  • 1636 Thomas Lewes
  • 1668 Bartholomew Webb
  • 1673 Thomas Lewis
  • 1674 John Reading
  • 1677 Samuel Peirson

  • 1720 Thomas Kelway
  • 1744 Thomas Capell
  • 1765 Richard Hall
  • 1771 Thomas Tremain
  • 1775 William Walrond
  • 1801 James Target
  • 1803 Thomas Bennett
  • 1848 Henry Bennett
  • 1861 Philip Armes
  • 1863 Edward Thorne
  • 1870 Francis Edward Gladstone
  • 1873 James Pyne

Assistant Organists

  • 1765 Richard Hall
  • 1771 Thomas Tremaine
  • 1775 William Walrond
  • c.1876 Edward Bartlett
  • 1915 Cyril Herbert Stone
  • 1920 ?

Organ Scholars

In common with nearly all cathedrals in the UK, Chichester appoints an organ scholar each year to take a share of the playing of services in the cathedral and the training of the choristers and probationers in the Prebendal Schoolmarker. The organ scholarship is a one year non-renewable post usually held by someone in their gap year between school and university, or in the first couple of years after graduation. The organ scholar gives a solo recital in the cathedral during the course of the year.

See also the List of Organ Scholars of Chichester Cathedral.

Chichester Cathedral Choir

Chichester Cathedral Choir, consists of fourteen choristers, four probationers educated at the Prebendal Schoolmarker, and six lay vicars who are professional musicians. The organist and master of choristers, Sarah Baldock is, with the organist of Guildford Cathedralmarker, one of the first women to occupy the senior musical appointment to a cathedral in England.

During school term, the cathedral has six sung services a week. As well as singing, choristers learn the piano and an orchestral instrument, spending at least eighteen hours a week on musical performance.

The choir regularly tours abroad, and in recent years has visited France, Northern Bavaria (Bamberg, Bayreuth, Nurenberg and Wurzburg), and makes frequent visits to Chartres. In spring 2005, the choir made a successful tour to South Africa.

See also the Choir of Chichester Cathedral.

Popular music

Unusually for a cathedral, Chichester has hosted a performance by a rock band, Pink Floyd, who played at the funeral of their manager, Steve O'Rourke. Other performers to have played there include Bob Geldof, Rolf Harris and The Hollies.


The cathedral is a nesting site for Peregrine Falcons, which use a crenellated turret at the base of the spire. Three female and one male chicks were hatched in April 2009. During the nesting season live video of the chicks is shown inside the cathedral and on the internet.


See also


Chichester Cathedral, circa 1650
  1. Tim Tatton-Brown and John Crook, The English Cathedral, New Holland (2002), ISBN 1843301202
  2. Nikolaus Pevsner and Ian Nairn, Buildings of England: Sussex, Penguin Books (1965) (now published by Yale University Press) ISBN 0300096771
  3. Alec Clifton-Taylor, The Cathedrals of England, Thames & Hudson (1967)
  4. Daniel Defoe, A Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain (1724)
  5. John Harvey, English Cathedrals, Batsford (1961)
  6. The practice of separating the campanile from the main building is common in Italy, where ground movement is a problem because of both subsidence and earthquake.
  7. Banister Fletcher, A History of Architecture on the Comparative Method, Elsevier Science & Technology. ISBN 0750622679
  8. Chichester Cathedral website accessed Oct 25 2008
  9. Details of the main organ from the National Pipe Register
  10. Details of the Nave Organ from the National Pipe Register
  11. Details of the Walker Organ from the National Pipe Register
  12. Details of the Hurdis Organ from the National Pipe Register
  13. Quiet revolution in the south
  14. Pink Floyd hyperbase accessed October 29 2008
  15. The Argus Cathedral troubled by many calamities, first published Monday 16th Apr 2007. Accessed October 29 2008
  16. Mid Sussex Times article on the Sussex peregrines Retrieved 2009-07-07

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