St. Richards Walk, Chichester, West Sussex PO19 1QB
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Visitors are welcome to join services, although general visits are restricted at service times.
5 reviews of Chichester Cathedral in English
Always a “must” for me when I go to Chi. I take time out in the Private Chapel for contemplation away from the noisy lot outside. Beautiful place to be as many other Qypers have documented, ( I don’t need to add to what has been written). Whilst it can be busy in here, you can easily become isolatory, if you choose. You should try and get to a Carol Service this year. Another fine bonus is the Lunchtime Concerts. An absolute shot in the arm during a busy day!!
Oh the wonders of Chichester Cathedral! It’s extraordinary; since 1108 it has been a remarkable presence. As soon as I entered through the doors, warmly greeted by the two duty volunteers, I felt the serenity of the ancient site embrace me.
I discovered that there are over 500 volunteers - such is the affection that the Cathedral is held in, reflecting its unique status. Those I encountered were passionate about their role and contribution, and the privilege they felt to be able to work in such a splendid place.
My highlights - other than the overall experience - were the magnificent rich-hued (almost glowing) stained-glass window created by Marc Chagall (based on Psalm 150 and commissioned by Dean Walter Hussey in 1978), the beautiful fragment of 2nd century Roman Mosaic - now under glass - (re-discovered in 1966) and the exquisite Lady Chapel (in the process of restoration) with its impressive red-and-blue line detailing and sublime green-and-white ceiling. Also the richly vibrant Piper Tapestry (at the High Altar) which was woven in France (created in 1966) making a remarkably thought-provoking impact in its modernism - contrasting (positively) with its ancient setting.
As my visit was coming to a close I was surprised to notice, close to the exit, that composer (and former choirmaster at St Paul’s School) Gustav Holst was buried there, in 1934. I was also charmed to read the collection of enthusiastic letters from young (primary school) visitors who treasured their special Cathedral experience.
Chichester Cathedral is available for quiet contemplation as well as the more well known events such as the flower festival, which transforms the the interior into a heavenly smelling tapestry, a carpet of embroidered flowers. The Chichester Festival uses the Cathedral to good effect for visiting speakers and the grounds themselves are a delight to wander round together with the gardens and the RSPB site where twitchers can watch the latest clutch of Perigine egggs hatch and swoop on the locals.
Chichester has a long pedigree. Once a Roman town of some significance, it survived the Dark Ages to become an important market town in Anglo-Saxon times, and was chosen by the Normans in 1075 as the site of a new Cathedral.
Over the years, Chichester has kept its market town atmosphere, and makes a delightful place to visit: it still retains its Roman and later mediaeval street plan and part of its walls, but the centre also has some delightful parks and gardens.
The Cathedral itself reflects its Normans origins: begun in 1076, and largely completed by 1108, it is a substantial romanesque building. Until the 19th century, this was a poor area, so the Bishops could not afford the grand rebuildings that took place elsewhere. Its scale, and decoration, are still modest, and largely Norman work. It even retains its external bell tower.
Some additions were made in the late twelfth century, adding transitional and Early English gothic elements, and there are some furnishings and fittings of interest: two fine (and rare) 12th-century carvings of Christ arriving at Bethany and the raising of Lazarus; a large segment of Roman Mosaic flooring from a 4th-century public building; and some fine tombs, including that of Richard Fitzalan, (d. 1376) and his wife.
There are also notable additions in more recent times: a stained glass window by Marc Chagall, a tapestry by John Piper, and a painting by Hans Freibusch. The Cathedral has a notable music festival and an even more famous flower festival, when its interior becomes a riot of floral design.
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