Place:Chichester, Sussex, England

Alt namesCisseceastersource: Blue Guide: England (1980) p 98
Noviomagus Regnensiumsource: Encyclopædia Britannica (1988) III, 198; Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites (1979) p 633
Noviomagvs Regnorumsource: Romano-British Placenames [online] (1999) accessed 17 August 2004
Regnumsource: Blue Guide: England (1980) p 98
Chichester All Saintssource: former civil parish merged in 1896
Chichester St. Andrewsource: former civil parish merged in 1896
Chichester St. Bartholomewsource: former civil parish merged in 1896
Chichester St. Jamessource: former civil parish merged in 1896
Chichester St. Martinsource: former civil parish merged in 1896
Chichester St. Olavesource: former civil parish merged in 1896
Chichester St. Pancrassource: former civil parish merged in 1896
Chichester St. Peter the Greatsource: former civil parish merged in 1896
Chichester St Peter the Lesssource: former civil parish merged in 1896
Chichester the Closesource: former civil parish merged in 1896
Chichester Newtownsource: suburb within city boundary
Portfieldsource: suburb within city boundary
Somerstonsource: suburb within city boundary
Sockbridgesource: typo for Stockbridge, suburb within city boundary
TypeBorough (municipal), Parish
Coordinates50.836°N 0.779°W
Located inSussex, England
Also located inWest Sussex, England     (1865 - )
See alsoChichester Rape, Sussex, Englandrape in which it was located
Box and Stockbridge Hundred, Sussex, Englandhundred in which it was located
Chichester District, West Sussex, Englanddistrict municipality covering the area since 1974
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog
source: Family History Library Catalog

the text in this section is based on an article in Wikipedia

Chichester is a cathedral city in West Sussex in the central part of the south coast of England. It is the only city in West Sussex and is its county town. It has a long history as a settlement from Roman times and was important in Anglo-Saxon times. It is the seat of the Church of England Diocese of Chichester, with a 12th-century cathedral.

The city is a hub of several main road routes, and has a railway station, theatre, hospital, schools and museums. The River Lavant runs through, and partly beneath, the city.

Historically, Chichester was a city and liberty, thereby largely self-governing. Although it has retained its city status, in 1888 it became a municipal borough, transferring some powers to West Sussex administrative county. In 1974 the municipal borough became part of the much larger Chichester District. There is a city council but it only has the powers of a parish council; control of services is largely in the hands of Chichester District Council and West Sussex County Council.

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 the former 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 canal itself.

This brief excerpt from John Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles of 1877 is provided by the website A Vision of Britain Through Time (University of Portsmouth Department of Geography).

"The trade of C. is chiefly in coal, timber, corn, flour, and malt, and there are extensive corn and cattle markets. Chichester returned 1 member to Parliament until 1885."

The area within the present boundaries of the city is 10.67 km2 (4.12 sq mi). In the UK census of 2011 it had a population of 26,795. Suburbs in existence in 1900 were Chichester Newtown, Somerston and Portfield. In 1896 the following ecclesiatical parishes, which had also previously been made separate civil parishes, handed over all thier civic duties to the new municipal borough. Chichester St. Peter the Great, Chichester St. Bartholomew, Chichester All Saints, Chichester St. Andrew, Chichester St. Peter the Less, Chichester St. Olave, Chichester St. Martin, Chichester St. Pancras, Chichester St. James and Chichester the Close. All are redirected here.



the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Roman period

There is no recorded evidence that the city that became Chichester was a settlement of any size before the coming of the Romans. The area around Chichester is believed to have played significant part during the Roman invasion of AD 43, as confirmed by evidence of military storage structures in the area of the nearby Fishbourne Roman Palace. The city centre stands on the foundations of the Romano-British city of Noviomagus Reginorum, capital of the Civitas Reginorum. The Roman road of Stane Street, connecting the city with London, started at the east gate, while the Chichester to Silchester road started from the north gate. The plan of the city is inherited from the Romans: the North, South, East and West shopping streets radiate from the central market cross dating from medieval times.

The original Roman city wall was over thick with a steep ditch (which was later used to divert the River Lavant). It survived for over one and a half thousand years but was then replaced by a thinner Georgian wall.

The city was also home to some Roman baths, found down Tower Street when preparation for a new car park was underway. A museum, The Novium, preserving the baths was opened on 8 July 2012.

An amphitheatre was built outside the city walls, close to the East Gate, in around 80 AD. The area is now a park, but the site of the amphitheatre is discernible as a gentle bank approximately oval in shape; a notice board in the park gives more information.

In January 2017, archaeologists using underground radar reported the discovery of the relatively untouched ground floor of a Roman townhouse and outbuilding. The exceptional preservation is due to the fact the site, Priory Park, belonged to a monastery and has never been built upon since Roman times.

Anglo-Saxon period

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 most probable source of Chichester's name is from Cissa.

The cathedral for the South Saxons was founded in 681 at Selsey; the seat of the bishopric was moved to Chichester in 1075.

Chichester was one of the burhs (fortified towns) established by Alfred the Great, probably in 878–879, making use of the remaining Roman walls. According to the Burghal Hidage, a list written in the early 10th century, it was one of the biggest of Alfred's burhs, supported by 1500 hides, units of land required to supply one soldier each for the garrison in time of emergency. The system was supported by a communication network based on hilltop beacons to provide early warning. It has been suggested that one such link ran from Chichester to London.

Norman period

When the Domesday Book was compiled, Cicestre (Chichester) consisted of 300 dwellings which held a population of 1,500 people. There was a mill named Kings Mill that would have been rented to local slaves and villeins. After the Battle of Hastings the township of Chichester was handed to Roger de Mongomerie, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury, for courageous efforts in the battle, but it was forfeited in 1104 by the 3rd Earl. Shortly after 1066 Chichester Castle was built by Roger de Mongomerie to consolidate Norman power. In around 1143 the title Earl of Arundel (also known as the Earl of Sussex until that title fell out of use) was created and became the dominant local landowner. In 1216, Chichester Castle, along with Reigate Castle, was captured by the French, but regained the following year, when the castle was ordered to be destroyed by the king. Between 1250 and 1262, the Rape of Chichester was created from the western half of Arundel rape, with the castle as its administrative centre.

Medieval period

In about 1400 Bishop Robert Reed erected an impressive cross in the Market Place.[1]

At Christmas 1642 during the First English Civil War, the city was besieged and St Pancras church was destroyed by gunfire.

A military presence was established in the city in 1795 with the construction of a depot on land where the Hawkhurst Gang had been hanged. It was named the Roussillon Barracks in 1958. The military presence had ceased by 2014 and the site was being developed for housing.

At the beginning of the 19th-century, Chichester's livestock market was recorded as the second largest in the country.

World War II to present

Chichester was bombed by the Luftwaffe during World War II, but fared relatively well compared to larger English cities. On 11 May 1944, a United States Air Force B-24 Liberator Bomber crashed in the city killing three, injuring 38, and damaging hundreds of local buildings.

In December 1993 and January 1994, Chichester was affected by the 1993–94 West Sussex floods.

On 21 November 2017, the Chichester District Council adopted a 'Southern Gateway' plan to redevelop an area from the law courts to the canal basin, including the two railway level crossings.

Research Tips

  • The West Sussex Record Office is located in Chichester. Because it holds the records of the Church of England Diocese of Chichester, which covers the whole of Sussex, it has church records relating to both parts of Sussex.
  • An on-line catalogue for some of the collections held by the West Sussex Record Office is available under the Access to Archives (A2A) project (a nationwide facility housed at The National Archives, Kew).
  • West Sussex Past - database of 2 million records from West Sussex heritage organizations.
  • The Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies' Sussex Collection (PDF). This is a 9-page PDF naming the files relating to Sussex in their collection-a possible first step in a course of research.
  • The National Library of Scotland has a website which provides maps taken from the Ordnance Survey England & Wales One-Inch to the Mile series of 1892-1908 as well as equivalent maps for Scotland itself. The immediate presentation is a "help" screen and a place selection screen prompting the entry of a location down to town, village or parish level. These screens can be removed by a click of the "X". The map is very clear and shows parish and county boundaries and many large buildings and estates that existed at the turn of the 20th century. Magnification can be adjusted and an "overlay feature" allows inspection of the area today along with that of 1900. The specific map from the series can be viewed as a whole ("View this map") and this allows the inspection of the map legend (found in the left hand bottom corner. Becoming familiar with the various facilities of these maps is well worth the trouble.
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Chichester. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WeRelate, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.