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Top 5 Historical Attractions in Chichester

9 March 2018 | Sian Brett

A cathedral city in the heart of West-Sussex, Chichester has a rich history and the beautiful architecture to prove it. Alongside the shops, theatre, and art galleries, take a moment to stop and look at these historical spots that make the city what it is today.

Chichester Cathedral
Chichester Cathedral, built in 1108, is one of the oldest cathedrals in Britain. There are guided tours twice a day where you can learn all about the bishops that once presided over the cathedral, as well as the many pieces of art and sculpture that adorn the walls. If you miss the tour though, fret not – there are plenty of wonderful volunteers and information staff on hand to fill you in on the history behind every inch of the cathedral’s history. Look out for The South Transept, which is home to the oldest and largest mural of its kind in the country, detailing a fictional account of the Bishop of Chichester asking Henry VIII for the land the Cathedral stands on. It’s matched only by The North Transept and its collection of paintings of all the Bishops of Chichester – all with the same face, because the artist assumed they would look the same across history. The Cathedral is also home to some more modern art, currently featuring Amy Cushing’s ‘Enlightenment’ installation.



Image Credit: Visible Landscape

Chichester Cathedral is located at The Royal Chantry, Cathedral Cloisters, Chichester PO19 1PX.
 
Novium Museum
Built around the Roman Baths House Complex that was discovered in the town, the Novium Museum is the place to go to learn all about the historic Roman-Chichester connections. Jam-packed full of artefacts discovered in the baths, as well as important objects from the town’s 20th century history, there’s loads to see. For those of you with little ones, the smugglers exhibit has lots of interactive activities to keep them entertained while they learn about the town’s past. Venture up to the top floor of the museum to check out the Cathedral view, and find out more about each bit of that glorious skyline. Be sure to also check out The Racton Man, the incredible remains discovered in 1989 of a man who died fighting in battle.


Image Credit: Millstream Hotel

Novium Museum is located at Tower St, Chichester PO19 1QH.
 
Chichester Cross
As you’re walking through Chichester town centre it’s hard to miss the Market Cross. An eight sided structure made of Caen stone, it has a low stone seating area and a stone paved floor, with arches on each side. Originally the Cross was built to allow poor peasants to trade without having to pay a toll if stood under the cross. By 1808 the population of the town had grown so much that a bigger market area was required, and the Butter Market was built. After this, the Market Cross was nearly destroyed, but luckily locals put up a fight, and allowed the beautiful monument to be kept, and in 1950 it was made a grade 1 listed building. Whilst the market in Chichester is no more, there are still hot food and fruit and veg stalls surrounding the cross.


Image Credit: Chichester Web

Chichester Cross can be found at 5-6 South St, Chichester PO19 1HD.
 
The Butter Market
Now home to restaurants and shops, the Butter Market was designed by John Nash in 1808, originally somewhere for small traders who had previously been housed at Chichester Cross to go. From its construction in 1808 it housed the trade of fresh and locally sourced produce. The upper floor was added 100 years after to provide a technical institute and art school, but the grandeur of the building remains. White pillars and archways give the town centre a sense of history, and as you walk down the cobbled street and spot it, you can’t help but feel you’re being transported back in time.


Image Credit: Chichester Web

The Butter Market is located on North Street, PO19 1LQ.
 
Fishbourne Roman Palace and Gardens
The largest residential Roman building discovered in Britain and the largest in situ mosaic collection (dating from around AD 75-80), Fishbourne Roman Palace and Gardens is a treat for history fans. Just over a quarter of the original mosaics covering the floor of the palace have survived, an impressive feat considering how long they’ve been there. The museum encloses gardens which have been reconstructed to match the history of the palace, with authentic plants from the Roman Period being used. Until as late as 1960 the palace went undiscovered, and it was only when a local water company attempted to lay a pipe nearby that the remains were discovered, and archaeologist Barry Cunliffe began an excavation. As well as the impressive mosaics, there are masonry remains in the museum, and you can enjoy a guided tour, before a pit stop in the café.


Image Credit: Kingfisher Visitor Guides

Fishbourne Roman Palace and Gardens is located at Roman Way, Fishbourne, Chichester PO19 3QR.
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