Chichester

CHICHESTER, a city and market-town, having exclusive jurisdiction, locally in the hundred of Box and Stockbridge, rape of Chichester, W. division of Sussex, 62 miles (S. W. by S.) from London; containing 8512 inhabitants. This city, which is of very remote antiquity, derives the latter part of its name from its having been a Roman station, supposed to be Regnum; and the former part, from its subsequent occupation by Cissa, about the close of the fifth century. About the year 47, Flavius Vespasian, who took possession of this portion of Britain, made the place his head-quarters, and threw up an intrenchment three miles in extent, some traces of which are still apparent. In the reign of Claudius Cæsar, the Romans, as appears from an inscription upon a stone dug up in 1723 (now in the possession of the Duke of Richmond, at Goodwood), erected a temple here, and probably surrounded their station with walls. Other Roman inscriptions have been discovered; and a curious piece of tessellated pavement, and several Roman coins, were in 1727 found in the bishop's garden. Towards the close of the fifth century the city was taken from the Britons by Ella, whose son Cissa rebuilt it, and called it after his own name, Cissa's ceaster, fortifying it also with a strong intrenchment. It subsequently became the seat of the South Saxon kings, in whose possession the place remained till the middle of the seventh century, when Wulfhere, the Mercian, invaded it, and took Athelwald, its king, prisoner; but on his embracing Christianity, he was reinstated in his dominions, which he held until he was slain in battle by Ceadwalla, a prince of Wessex, who subjugated the kingdom of the South Saxons. On the union of the Saxon kingdoms by Egbert, in the year 827, Chichester was of considerable importance; but it suffered greatly from the Danes; and, at the time of the Conquest, had declined so much, that it had scarcely a hundred houses within the walls. On the transfer of the South Saxon see from Selsey, where it had remained for more than 300 years, to this place, the town regained its former importance, and after the Conquest it was bestowed on Roger de Montgomery, who erected a castle adjoining the ramparts, and four gates, and gave the south-western quarter of the city for the site of the cathedral and residence of the clergy. In the reign of Henry I. a cathedral was built by Bishop Ralph, which being destroyed by fire, that prelate erected a second edifice far exceeding the former in magnificence, a considerable portion of which is incorporated with the present building. In 1189, the greater part of the city was destroyed by fire, and the cathedral, having sustained great injury, was repaired and enlarged by Siffred, the seventh bishop, whose effigy in marble was placed in a niche within the building. The castle was ordered to be demolished by King John, but the sentence was not carried into effect till the first of Henry III., 1216; after which a Franciscan convent was founded on its site.

During the civil war in the reign of Charles I., Sir Edward Ford, the sheriff, with the loyal gentry of the county, by assurances of raising a large force in Sussex for the royal cause, invited Lord Hopton from the west, and Chichester, being a walled town, was fixed upon for their head-quarters. While employed in collecting troops, improving their resources, repairing the fortifications, and strengthening their position, they were surprised by the sudden appearance of Sir William Waller, the parliamentary general, whose forces had been joined by several troops of horse, commanded by Col. Morley and Sir Matthew Liverey, and who immediately commenced a siege. The place was defended for some time with obstinate courage; but after an ineffectual resistance for ten days, the citizens were compelled to surrender on the 29th of December, 1642. The cathedral was partly demolished by the parliamentary forces, and the conventual buildings plundered and nearly levelled with the ground; the churches of St. Bartholomew and St. Pancras were battered down, and the houses of the most eminent of the citizens destroyed. Waller made the convent of the Grey friars his head-quarters, and his soldiers were quartered in the cathedral. The city remained in the hands of the parliamentarians for six years after its surrender, and in 1648, the ordnance was removed to Arundel Castle, the garrison withdrawn, and the fortifications demolished.

The city is pleasantly situated on a gentle eminence, nearly surrounded by the small stream Lavant, and consists chiefly of four streets, meeting nearly at right angles in the centre of the town, where is an octagonal cross in the decorated English style, which is considered, in design and execution, equal to any structure of its class in England. The streets were formerly terminated by four gates in the ancient embattled walls with which the city was encircled: the last of these gates was taken down in 1773; and of the walls, some portions are remaining on the north and east sides, where spacious terraces were raised in 1725, covered with gravel, and shaded with rows of lofty elms, affording a pleasant promenade for the inhabitants, and highly ornamental to the city. The houses are in general well built; and the streets are paved, and lighted with gas, under an act of parliament obtained in 1791 for the general improvement of the town, which is amply supplied with water. At the north entrance are the barracks, a spacious building adapted to the accommodation of 16 officers and 328 privates of cavalry, with stabling for 340 horses, and also of 48 officers and 888 privates of infantry; with grounds for exercise and parade. Without the walls, a new suburb has arisen called Summerstown, which consists of several spacious streets of handsome houses, and forms a pleasing appendage to the city. The theatre, a neat plain edifice, was built in the year 1791; the assembly-rooms, in which assemblies and concerts are held, were built by subscription in 1781. A public subscription library, situated in the churchyard, was established in 1794. A mechanics' institute was formed in 1824, for which a building has been erected at the extremity of South-street: it is 50 feet long, and 25 feet wide, built of brick, and faced with cement; the interior, which is lighted by two ranges of Grecian windows, contains on the ground-floor the library and apartments for the librarian, and on the upper floor a lecture-room. A literary and philosophical society was established in 1831, and holds its meetings in a house in South-street, built by Sir Christopher Wren, and containing a valuable museum, reading-room, and other requisite apartments. Races are held in August at Goodwood, about five miles north of the city; the Grand Stand, lately built, is a quadrilateral building, 120 feet long, and 70 feet wide, surrounded by a colonnade of the Doric order, and capable of accommodating nearly 3000 persons.

The Trade consists principally in malt, corn (of which a considerable quantity is sent coastwise), flour, timber, and coal. The Lavant empties itself into the sea at Dellquay, two miles distant from the town, where is a small harbour, into which vessels can enter at high water, and where a collector of customs is stationed to superintend the transactions of the port; which carries on a small foreign trade, chiefly in timber. Lobsters and prawns, caught at Selsey, about seven miles south of the town, and esteemed the finest on the coast, are sent in great quantities to the London market; and a large quantity of salt is made at Birdham, about three miles from Chichester. There is railway communication with Worthing and Brighton, on the east, and with Havant and Portsmouth, on the west; the station here is 79½ miles distant from London, by way of Brighton. A branch from the Portsmouth and Arundel canal, on the south side of the town, also contributes to facilitate and promote its trade. The market days are Wednesday and Saturday; and on every alternate Wednesday is a large market for cattle, sheep, and hogs. The market-house, a convenient structure, was built in 1807: the cornmarket is held on Wednesday at the Corn Exchanges in North and East streets. The Exchange in East-street, erected in 1837, after a design by Mr. Elliot, is a handsome building, 250 feet in depth; the principal entrance is by a Doric portico of six columns, projecting over the pavement, resting upon square plinths, and supporting a triangular pediment, with entablature and cornice: between the corresponding pilasters of the same order, and the antæ, three large folding-doors lead into the hall, which is 80 feet long, 50 feet wide, and lighted by a range of windows on each side; and behind are ample stores for the corn which is deposited for sale. There are fairs held annually on St. George's day, Whit-Monday, St. James' day, Old Michaelmas-day, and the 20th of October, the last of them being called the Sloe fair.

The earliest charter of incorporation extant is one by King Stephen: numerous others have been bestowed at various times, the principal of which were granted in the reigns of Henry II., Edward II. and III., Henry VI. and VII., and James I. and II. By the act of the 5th and 6th of William IV., cap. 76, the body corporate was made to consist of a mayor, six aldermen, and eighteen councillors; the borough is divided into two wards, and the municipal and parliamentary boundaries are co-extensive. The elective franchise was conferred in the 23rd of Edward I., since which time the city has returned two members to parliament. The right of election was formerly vested in the corporation, in the freemen at large, and in the inhabitants paying scot and lot within the city and liberties, about 600 in number, with the exception of those of the extra-parochial district of Newton, which, nevertheless, was within the walls, and subject to the jurisdiction of the city magistrates. By the act of the 2nd of William IV., cap. 45, the non-resident freemen, except within seven miles, were disfranchised; and the right of voting was extended to the £10 householders of a district which was incorporated with the borough. The old borough comprised 445 acres, but the limits of the new contain 604. The mayor is returning officer. The mayor for the time being and for the previous year are justices by virtue of their office, and there are six others. The recorder holds sessions for the city and liberties, and a court of record every Monday for the recovery of debts to any amount: there is also a court leet, on the last Monday in November; and petty-sessions are held every Monday for the borough, and by the county magistrates every Saturday. The Michaelmas quartersessions for the western division of the county likewise take place here. The powers of the county debt-court of Chichester, established in 1847, extend over the registration-districts of Westbourne and West Hampnett, and part of the district of Chichester. The guildhall, anciently the chapel of the Franciscan convent, is 82 feet long, 31 feet wide, and 43 feet high; the east window, of five lights, divided by slender mullions of Sussex marble, is a beautiful specimen of flowing tracery. The council-chamber, built by subscription, in 1730, is handsome, having arcades formed by pillars of the Tuscan order. The common gaol was built in 1783; it contains only six apartments, five for males and one for females.

Chichester is the seat of a diocese, the jurisdiction of which extends over the county of Sussex. The episcopal chair was originally fixed at Selsey, in 681, and transferred to this place in 1075, when Stigand, then bishop of Selsey, and chaplain to William the Conqueror, was appointed the first bishop of Chichester. The establishment consists of a bishop, dean, thirty-one canons or prebendaries, of whom four are residentiary, four minor canons, a precentor, chancellor, and treasurer. The bishop has the patronage of the precentorship, the chancellorship of the diocese and that of the church, the treasurership, the two archdeaconries, two canonries, and the non-resident canonries. The patronage of the Dean and Chapter includes two canonries, and the minor canonries.

The cathedral, dedicated to St. Peter, erected by Bishop Ralph in the reign of Henry I., and repaired and enlarged by succeeding bishops, is a spacious structure, partly Norman, and partly in the early and decorated styles of English architecture, with a tower rising from the centre, surmounted by a lofty octagonal spire. At the west end of the south aisle is a tower in the Norman style, and on the north side of the north aisle, ranging with the west front, is a detached campanile tower crowned with octagonal turrets at the angles, above which rises a lanthorn connected by flying buttresses springing from the turrets. The interior is principally in the early English style. The Nave, which is 150 feet in length, has a plain but neatly groined roof, the ribs of which spring from light pilasters between the clerestory windows, and is divided from the aisles by a range, on each side, of eight clustered columns, supporting a series of well-formed arches; the triforium is of early English character, and in front of the clerestory windows is an upper triforium, the pillars of which have capitals ornamented with palm-leaves. The aisles consist of two ranges on each side; the outer ranges are lighted by windows of large dimensions, and appear to have contained numerous chapels. A screen of stone, supporting the organ gallery, divides the nave from the Choir, which, including the Norman arches that sustain the tower, is 134 feet in length, and has a roof supported by a range of three pointed arches on each side, resting on clustered columns similar to those of the nave; it is flagged with marble, and contains the prebendal stalls, bishop's throne, and the tabernacle-work erected by Bishop Sherborne, in the sixteenth century, ornamented with a profusion of gilding. The east end terminates in a wainscoted altar-screen, with panels of crimson velvet; and beyond the altar-screen is the presbytery, the roof of which is supported by arches of graceful form, rising from clustered columns of Petworth marble, with a circular window at the end. The North Transept is separated from the cathedral, and appropriated as the parish church of St. Peter the Great. The Lady Chapel, which is of later date, and ornamented with a Catherinewheel window, has been divided into two portions, of which the upper forms the vestibule of the Chapter library, and the lower the mausoleum of the Lennox family; and on the east of the south transept is the sacristy, now used as a chapter-house. The South Transept, which contains a remarkably fine monument to the memory of Bishop Langton, and the shrine which canopies the tomb of St. Richard, has an elegant window of seven lights, in the decorated style, and is adorned with two large and interesting historical paintings, for which it is indebted to the munificence and skill of Bishop Sherborne, and which, though defaced by the swords of Cromwell's soldiers, are considered very fine specimens of early painting; also with a series of portraits of several bishops of Chichester, and of the kings of England from the Conquest, concluding with George III. One of the paintings represents the foundation of the see at Selsey by Ceadwalla; the other, Bishop Sherborne, attended by his ecclesiastics, petitioning Henry VII. for a confirmation of the charter granted by Ceadwalla. There are several monuments and ancient pieces of sculpture in the cathedral: at the west end of the middle south aisle is a fine whole-length statue of Mr. Huskisson; and in the same aisle is an interesting monument to the memory of the poet Collins, executed in white marble by Flaxman, and erected by subscription. The Cloisters, occupying three sides of an irregular quadrangle, are in the later style. Within the last few years, considerable improvements have been made in the interior of the cathedral, which has been repaired and partly restored. Thick coats of whitewash and plaster, which had accumulated for ages, have been removed, monuments restored, and several of the finer portions of the embellishments of the edifice brought to light, among which are some arches over the entrance to the Lady chapel; the choir has been enlarged and beautified, and many of the old seats and other obstructions have been removed from the nave.

The Bishop's Palace, situated in some pleasant grounds near the cathedral, bounded by part of the ancient ramparts of the city, after undergoing numerous changes in its external appearance, was repaired in 1725, and now presents a modern front, consisting of a centre and two wings connected by an open corridor; attached is a handsome chapel, in the early English style. The principal entrance to the palace court is through the Canon-gate, erected in the reign of Richard II., above which was the ecclesiastical prison. The Deanery was built by Dean Sherlock, afterwards Bishop of London, in 1725. Of the ancient houses for the canons, only two are now remaining, which have been assigned to the two senior residentiaries; in one of these is a fine Norman arch, with highly enriched mouldings. The house in which the precentor lives, is said to have been the residence of William D'Albini, the fourth earl of Arundel.

Chichester comprises the parishes of All Saints, or the Pallant or Palatinate, containing 327 inhabitants; St. Andrew, 625; St. Martin, 282; St. Olave, 238; St. Pancras, partly within and partly without the walls, 1065; St. Peter the Great, or the Subdeanery, 5021; St. Peter the Less, 349; and St. Bartholomew Without, 297; with the precinct of the Cathedral Close, 145. These parishes were, by act of parliament in 1753, united for the better maintenance of the poor, under the inspection of guardians. There are also an extra-parochial district called Newton, formerly the Black friars, containing 123 persons; and a small extra-parochial plot beyond the walls, called St. James', and containing 40 inhabitants. The living of All Saints' is a discharged rectory, valued in the king's books at £5. 17. 6.; net income, £55; patron, the Archbishop of Canterbury. St. Andrew's is a discharged rectory, valued at £4. 13. 4.; net income, £102; patrons, the Dean and Chapter of Chichester. The church is a neat edifice, in the later English style. St. Martin's is a discharged rectory, valued at £1. 6. 8.; net income, £67; patrons, the Dean and Chapter. The church, which was rebuilt by Mrs. Dear, of the city, is a handsome structure in the decorated English style: the interior is richly ornamented, and contains a fine monument lately erected to the memory of that lady. The living of St. Olave's is a discharged rectory, valued at £4. 18. 9.; net income, £85; patrons, the Dean and Chapter. The living of St. Pancras' is a discharged rectory, valued at £8. 10. 8.; net income, £120; patrons, the Trustees of the Rev. C. Simeon. The church, which was destroyed during the parliamentary war, was rebuilt by subscription in 1750. St. Peter's the Great is a discharged vicarage, valued in the king's books at £16. 8. 4.; net income, £150; patrons and appropriators, the Dean and Chapter. The church is formed of the north transept of the cathedral. The district church dedicated to St. Paul is situated in the centre of a spacious cemetery, in the suburb of Summerstown, near the north gate: it is a handsome edifice in the later English style, with a lofty embattled tower; was built at an expense of £4500, raised by subscription, and was opened for divine service on the 13th of October, 1836. The living is in the patronage of the Vicar, after whose demise it will be in the Dean and Chapter; net income, £150. The living of St. Peter's the Less is a discharged rectory, valued in the king's books at £1. 6. 8.; net income, £56; patron, the Dean of Chichester. The church is an ancient edifice in the early English style. St. Bartholomew's Without is a perpetual curacy; net income, £65; patron, the Dean. The church, which was demolished during the parliamentary war, has been lately rebuilt. At Newton, a proprietary chapel, dedicated to St. John the Evangelist, was erected in 1813, on the lands of the monastery of the Black friars, at an expense of £7000, raised partly in shares and partly by subscription: it is of white brick, with a campanile turret, and two porches of Roman cement; the interior is well arranged, and contains 900 sittings, of which 250 are free. By act of parliament passed in 1812, the Dean and Chapter, the mayor, and all subscribers of £100, are perpetual trustees, and appoint the minister, whose fixed stipend of £80 is augmented by the rent of six pews producing £35 per annum, and an endowment of £200 by the Rev. S. Barbut, and £300 Queen Anne's Bounty. There are places of worship in the city for the Society of Friends, Huntingtonians, Independents, Wesleyans, and Unitarians.

The Free Grammar School was founded in 1497, by Bishop Story, chiefly for the training of youth intended for holy orders, and is endowed with tithes and land; the management is vested in the bishop, who confirms the appointment of a master nominated by the Dean and Chapter. Archbishop Juxon; the learned Selden; Collins, the poet; and Dr. Hurdis, professor of poetry in the University of Oxford, received the rudiments of their education in the school. The Diocesan Theological College was founded in 1839, under the sanction of Bishop Otter, and in connexion with the cathedral, for the preparation of candidates for holy orders; the students must be graduates of the universities, or such other persons as are recommended by the bishop, and they are expected to remain one year. A free school for affording nautical education to boys, was founded in 1702, by Oliver Whitby, who endowed it with lands now producing £1230 per annum: charity schools are supported by subscription; and there are also national and Lancasterian schools. St. Mary's Hospital, founded by one of the deans in the reign of Henry II., for two men and six women, was re-founded by Queen Elizabeth, in 1562, for a warden or custos in holy orders, two men, and three women; the warden has a stipend of £160, and each of the inmates an allowance of £30 per annum: the building consists of a refectory, on each side of which are rooms for the inmates, and at the east end a chapel, in which divine service is performed twice every day. A dispensary, established in 1784; and a noble infirmary, in 1827, about a mile north of the city; are supported by voluntary contributions. The latter, which is denominated the West Sussex or East Hampshire General Infirmary and Dispensary, forms a handsome range in the Grecian style, 120 feet in length; a wing has been added, for the erection of which the sum of £1000 was presented by Charles Dixon, Esq. Mr. John Hardham, of London, bequeathed property producing £700 per annum, to be applied to the diminution of the poor rates.

An hospital for lepers was founded in the reign of Richard I.: and to the south-east of the city was a house of Black friars, established by Eleanor, queen of Edward I., and dedicated to St. Mary and St. Vincent. At St. Roche's hill, where was a chapel dedicated to that saint, may be traced the remains of a circular Danish encampment. At Gowshill, about half a mile further, is an oblong camp; and on the same side, though nearer to the town, is another of similar form, but larger, surrounded by a strong rampart and a single moat: they are both supposed to be Roman, and were, perhaps, occupied by Vespasian, when he landed on this coast. Near the vicarage in South-street is an ancient crypt in fine preservation, to which is a descent of six steps from the level of the pavement; its history is very imperfectly known, but it is supposed to have belonged to the monastery of St. Peter. It is 36 feet in length, 24 in breadth, and 11 feet high; the roof, which is groined, is supported in the centre by a range of circular dwarf columns with capitals, and the arches terminate in corbels on the walls. Bradwardine and Juxon, archbishops of Canterbury; Lawrence Somercote, a great canonist and writer; and the poets Collins and Hayley, were natives of the city. The learned Chillingworth was buried in the cloisters, and John and George Smith, celebrated landscape painters, were buried at St. Olave's. John Foster, author of the Essays, resided for some time in the city. Chichester confers the title of Earl on the family of Pelham.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.

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