I left the train station and followed a few people who looked like they were going to the town centre. I had no choice because I didn’t have a map or guide. Then I followed the signs to the Tourist Information Centre, a shop on South Street. I bought a guide in the form of a leaflet called “A walk-around guide to Chichester: where to go, what to see – with map,” which set me back 75 p. Also, some postcards to send home (yes, good old-fashioned postcards sent via snail mail!.)
I went straight to the Cathedral. I took Cannon Lane, which leads to the Cloisters via St. Richard’s Walk. There was a modern sculpture exhibition on the green but unfortunately, I had to take shelter from the rain, so I saw a few works of art. Not my cup of tea but kudos to the Cathedral people for staging it. The Cloisters are not directly connected to the cathedral itself -at least not for the public- so I had to walk around the gardens in the rain. What would England be without rain, I wonder?
Upon entering the Cathedral, a volunteer gave me a map with all the most interesting things to see. It’s worth mentioning that there is no entry charge and they rely on visitors’ donations. This Norman Cathedral was consecrated in 1184, its spire was added in 1330 and re-built in 1865 (spanking new!). Some tiles on the ceiling still have traces of colour, it must have been astonishingly beautiful in its time. My two favourite things were the Marc Chagall window, based on Psalm 150 and unveiled in 1978, and the Arundel Tomb.
After having lunch at the Cloisters Cafe, I went to explore the town. I walked past the Market Cross on the intersection of the four main streets laid down by the Romans (Chichester is essentially a Georgian town with a medieval layout surrounded by Roman walls.) The Market Cross was built in 1501 for those who couldn’t afford a market stall.
I peered inside the Saxon church of St. Olaves, built around 1050 and which now houses a Christian bookshop. The shop assistant said she saw me take a photo of the place from the street and wasn’t surprised to see me come in. Am I that predictable? I also wanted to see the remains of the Roman walls built 1700 years ago. So much history in one place.
The city of Chichester was founded as a military base by the Romans in what is now West Sussex and is located 54 miles (87 km) northeast of London. It is easily accessible by rail and bus.