Chichester Cathedral in Chichester, West Sussex, was described by architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner as "the most typical English cathedral." It has Norman arcades in the nave and choir along with much Early English architecture. Chichester is the only medieval cathedral in England with a separate bell tower and the only one visible from the sea.
History of Chichester Cathedral
The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity at Chichester (as it is officially named) was founded in 1075 after the seat of the bishop was transferred to Chichester from nearby Selsey. It was consecrated in 1108 under Bishop Ralph de Luffa but a subsequent fire created a need for substantial rebuilding, which was not completed until 1184. The cathedral was reconsecrated in 1199.
Richard de la Wyche (a.k.a. St. Richard of Chichester), bishop from 1245 to 1253, was buried in the cathedral. His shrine was a place of pilgrimage until it was destroyed in 1538, during the first stages of the English Reformation. Further damage to the cathedral had been done by fire and much rebuilding was carried out in the Early English style. The original wooden ceiling had burned and was replaced by the sublimely simple present vaulting.
The spire, which was originally built in the 14th century, was repaired in the 17th century by Sir Christopher Wren and survived a lightning strike in 1721. However, its construction from poor-quality local stone led to its sudden collapse on February 21, 1861, miraculously without loss of life. It was immediately rebuilt by George Gilbert Scott, and now rises to a height of 82 metres.
Some interesting bits of trivia: The St. Mary's Hospital Almshouses in Chichester, which are linked to the cathedral, are thought to be the oldest in Britain, dating back to the 13th century. Leonard Bernstein's Chichester Psalms, written for the cathedral, are among the composer's finest music. Unusually for a cathedral, Chichester has also hosted a performance by a rock band Pink Floyd, who played at the funeral of their manager, Steve O'Rourke.
What to See at Chichester Cathedral
The nave of Chichester Cathedral is unusual in that its aisles were doubled in the 13th century. Under the floor of the nave are the remains of a Roman mosaic pavement, which can be viewed through a glass window. Also in the interior are the grave of the composer Gustav Holst and the Gothic "Arundel tomb" referred to in a famous poem by Philip Larkin.
Despite its venerable age, the cathedral contains several modern works of art, including tapestries by John Piper and Ursula Benker-Schirmer, a stained-glass window by Marc Chagall, a painting of the Noli me Tangere by Graham Sutherland, and a reredos for St John the Baptist's Chapel by Patrick Procktor.
Quick Facts on Chichester Cathedral
|Names:||Chichester Cathedral · The Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity and Cloisters|
|Categories:||cathedrals; Grade I listed buildings|
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||50.836205° N, 0.780705° W|
|Hours:||Summer: daily 7:15am-7pm|
Winter: daily 7:15am-6pm
|Lodging:||View hotels near Chichester Cathedral|
- Personal visit (August 13, 2006).
- Chichester Cathedral - Wikipedia (as of March 2007)
- Photos of Chichester Cathedral - here on Sacred Destinations
Map of Chichester Cathedral
Below is a location map and aerial view of Chichester Cathedral. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.