Category Archives: Local history

A general heading to categorise posts dealing with such a topic

Honouring Admiral George Murray is important for Chichester

Local Historian Alan Green on George Murray’s life, and plans for a commissioned sculpture in the cit.

There can be few living in Chichester who have not now heard of Admiral Sir George Murray following the “Murrayfest” held in 2015 and the recent newspaper publicity about the proposed statue of Murray and Nelson by Chichester sculptor Vincent Gray. Admiral Murray’s importance to the country as a whole as the naval officer of whom Nelson famously said “Murray or none”, is well known, but why is he so important to Chichester as to justify his own statue?

Admiral Sir George Murray around 1815 by Charles Woolcott (Image: with thanks to Ian Murray)
To sea aged eleven

George was the middle one of three surviving sons of George and Ann Murray all of whom went on to become prominent citizens, much involved with the life of their native city following the example of their father who was an alderman.1  George was born in January 1759 and baptised at St Peter the Great on 16 April that year.2

In 1770, at the tender age of eleven, George Murray joined the Royal Navy, rising swiftly through the ranks. He served under Admiral Horatio Nelson at the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801 when the two men became very close friends. He was then sent to the Mediterranean serving as Captain of the Fleet under Nelson, and on 23 April 1804 he was promoted to rear admiral.

A rare photograph of Admiral Murray’s former house taken in the early 1930s (Author’s collection)












Naturally Murray spent most of his active service at sea but missed the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 as he had to remain ashore to sort out the estate of his late father in law; had Murray been at Trafalgar perhaps he, rather than Hardy could have been alongside Nelson when he died.

Life as a civilian

Admiral Murray made a significant impact on Chichester with the building of his grand new house on the corner of North Street and Guildhall Street (now The Ship, also known as the Harbour Hotel) between 1804 and 18063 John Marsh, that great Georgian diarist, obviously thought it rather pretentious when he recorded his first visit to the house on 7 February 1807:

On the next day we fix’d our first visit to Mrs G Murray at ye Admiral’s new House in North Street, term’d whilst it was building the Admiralty . There we met a large company in two rooms of six card tables, one of them a Commerce party of 13.4

After 1808 Admiral Murray did not go back to sea but instead became fully involved in the social life of his native city. John Marsh records several events at the house including the entertaining of royalty; the Prince and Princess of Hesse Hombourg no less (she the third daughter of George III) visited Chichester on 18 June 1818 and Marsh records that “[after] 2 & 3 o’clock… they went to breakfast at Sir G Murray’s”.5

He was also a member of the Book Society whose meetings were held at The Admiralty.

The entry on the mayoral boards in the Council Chamber recording George Murray’s year of office.
(Photo: Alan Green courtesy Chichester City Council)

George also followed his father in serving on the Corporation, but prior to this he was awarded the Freedom of the Merchants’ Guild by the Mayor in September 1800. In October 1802, he was nominated for the office of Portreeve and in September 1815 he was elected Mayor.6

Admiral Murray was clearly a man of great wealth whose income enabled him to live a lifestyle commensurate with the scale of his new house: he amassed a considerable wine cellar which was put up for auction on 27 July 1819 after his death and realised £672 15s 6d – equivalent to £47094 at today’s prices7. Not only that, he sent his son George to be educated at Winchester College which cost him some £45 per term in fees.8

George Murray died at his North Street home in Chichester on 28 February 1819 aged 60. John Marsh lamented the loss of his friend, recording with genuine feeling in his journal:

Besides the loss to the Corporation and our Book Society, a valuable member of each, the society in general of Chichester and its vicinity had a great loss, there being no-one who was more universally liked or esteemed.9

Whilst the funeral services of his two brothers were held in the church of St Peter the Great, which at that time was still in the north transept of the Cathedral, that of George, on 8 March 1819, took place in the Cathedral proper, after which he was buried in the Close in the area bound by the cloisters known as Paradise. 10

The unveiling of the blue plaque to Admiral Sir George Murray on the Ship Hotel by The Mayor of Chichester, Cllr Alan Chaplin, on 24 June 2013 (Photo Alan Green)













A fine monument to George, and his wife Ann who died in 1859, can be seen in the Sailors’ Chapel in the Cathedral. In 2013 a blue plaque to him was installed on the front of The Ship bearing those immortal words None but Murray will do.

The monument to Admiral Murray and his wife Ann in the Sailors’ Chapel in Chichester Cathedral (Photo Bob Wiggins)















Vincent Gray’s statue of Nelson and Murray will stand opposite The Admiralty in the front garden of 40 North Street (now Jack Wills); appropriately, this was the house of George Murray’s elder brother Richard.

How the twin sculptures of Nelson and Murray will appear when placed on a plinth at 40 North Street, Chichester. Image: courtesy of Peter Robson Architect


  1. WSRO St Peter the Great, Chichester, Parish Records
  2. WSRO St Peter the Great, Chichester, Parish Records
  3. For a detailed history of the house see The Ship Hotel, Chichester built as the house of Admiral Sir George Mur – ray by Alan H J Green. New Chichester Paper No 6, Chich- ester Local History Society & The University of Chichester 2014
  4. John Marsh History of my Private Life. John Marsh was a wealthy barrister who moved to Chichester in 1787. Every day he wrote about three pages in his journal giving us an authentic – if at times somewhat acerbic – picture of life in a Georgian cathedral city
  5. John Marsh– op cit
  6. WSRO C/3 Chichester Common Council minute book 1783- 1826
  7. Ian Murray collection. A copy of the sale catalogue marked-up with the prices
  8. Ian Murray collection – a statement of Admiral Murray’s account with the college. £45 is equivalent to £3,150 today
  9. John March op cit 10. WSRO Cathedral Close burial register
  10. WSRO Cathedral Close burial register

(This article originally appeared in the September 2018 edition of the Society’s Newsletter)

Goodwood’s Motor Circuit – a glorious mix of tradition and technology

Jon Barnett, the Motor Circuit’s General Manager, describes the history and future of this historic site from War-time fighter station to iconic star of the British motor scene.

The Goodwood Motor Circuit Aerodrome began life as RAF Westhampnett, satellite airfield to RAF Tangmere  during the Second World War. However, this story begins before the outbreak of the war when the 9th Duke of Richmond and Gordon gifted this land to the war effort on 7 December 1938. It was designated as an Emergency Landing Ground. But with the fall of France in July 1940, Westhampnett received its first residents: the Hurricanes of 145 Squadron. Being one of the most southerly fighter stations, it was kept very busy, playing an important role in the Battle of Britain. Several well-known fighter aces flew from RAF Westhampnett including Douglas Bader, Johnny Johnson and ‘Cocky’ Dundas, as well as many Commonwealth pilots. By July 1942 the Americans had arrived: on the 26 July the 31 Fighter Group of the United States Army Air Force flew from RAF Westhampnett to join their British comrades in combat; they were the first US Fighter Group in the European theatre. But once the Allies moved across Europe, RAF Westhampnett’s importance declined. It was officially closed in 1946.

From airfield to race track

Goodwood’s race track had its beginnings with the original perimeter re-fuelling road for the Hurricanes and Spitfires in the years Westhampnett was a fighter station. How did this come about?  The 9th Duke of Richmond – Freddie March – was a renowned amateur racer who had won the Brooklands Double 12 in 1930, later going on – as an engineer – to design both March sports car bodies and aircraft. He was approached by his friend, Squadron Leader Tony Gaze, who had flown from Westhampnett during the war years. Tony had raced his old MG round the service road in his down time, using fuel from the planes! This is why Tony was so sure the road would make a great race track and why he suggested converting the perimeter road into a motor racing circuit. Freddie March seized upon the idea. It wasn’t long before the Duke and Duchess officially opened the track by driving around the Circuit in a Bristol 400, then Britain’s state-of-the-art sporting saloon. The date was 18 September 1948, a Saturday. (The NHS was two months old).

Racing in the early days of the Goodwood Motor Circuit before closing in 1966

The response was rapturous, for the British public had been deprived of motor racing during the Second World War when Brooklands had been forced to close its doors in 1939. Huge demand for wheel-to-wheel competition saw 85 drivers and over 15,000 spectators turning up to Goodwood to support the UK’s first professionally-organised post- war motor racing event. Imagine the picturesque scene at the foot of the Downs steeped in heritage. This same venue has since witnessed some of motor racings greatest heroes in action, including Juan Manuel Fangio, John Surtees, Sir Jackie Stewart and Sir Stirling Moss.

The Motor Circuit closes

By 1966, the Duke could foresee that the rapidly changing nature of front-line motor racing would require Goodwood to make sizeable investment in physical changes to the venue in order to continue. By now in his mid-Sixties, and by nature disinclined to follow the expensive dictates of the ‘authorities’, the Duke opted instead to stop all motor racing. Both he and later his son did have the foresight, however, to ensure the circuit continued to be used, and therefore maintained, for testing, Sprints and other uses for the next 30 years.

A new chapter
The Goodwood Revival is all about style! (Photo by Dominic James)

On 18 September 1998, exactly 50 years to the day since the Goodwood Circuit first opened, the 9th Duke’s grandson, the present Duke of Richmond, re-opened the Circuit in spectacular fashion – using a Bristol 400 identical to the model his grandfather had used half a century earlier. This was the very first Goodwood Revival meeting for which preparation had been meticulous, the Circuit restored to look exactly as it did in its heyday, down to the very last detail. Since then the Goodwood Revival has been held every year: thrilling wheel-to-wheel racing with some of the most valuable grid selections in the world, dancing to the sounds of rock ‘n’ roll, the joy of the fun fair and the smell of engines mingled with perfume. Experience the Goodwood Revival and you experience the romance and glamour of motor racing as it used to be: a step back in time to the years between 1948 and 1966, when the joys of motor racing allowed the post-war world to kick off its heels  and have a jolly good time.

The Circuit today

In addition to Goodwood’s Revival, the circuit today is a hub of activity year-round, now also hosting the two-day Goodwood Members’ Meeting in March. This weekend recaptures the atmosphere and camaraderie of the original British Automobile Racing Club meetings held from 1949 to 1966. But there is more, such as Motor Sports Association Sprints, Car Club Track Days and Manufacturer Press Days. Members of the public and corporate groups can get behind the wheel of their own car or choose to drive one from the Goodwood fleet, like the entire BMW M Performance range; or there is an eclectic mix of 1960’s classics including an Alfa, Porsche, Ford Falcon and MG amongst others.  Moving on – new experiences.

Chance to drive one of their classic Land Rovers

Goodwood’s Motor Circuit continues to evolve and a new addition this year has been the introduction of a fleet of six classic Series 2 Land Rovers. To understand the world’s love affair with the Land Rover, you need to drive one and preferably drive a classic. So we offer the chance to drive off-road across the Downs on farm and forest tracks. We make no bones about it, these vehicles have seen life and they have character and patina, which makes them totally unique. As quintessentially British as a plate of fish and chips, the boxy, utilitarian Land Rover has become an iconic part of what it is to be British.

(This article originally appeared in the September 2018 issue of the Society’s Newsletter)

‘Priory Park – Its story in 100 objects’ by Alan Green

On September 30, 1918, the 7th Duke of Richmond and Gordon gifted Priory Park to the people of Chichester for their leisure and as a perpetual memorial to the fallen in the First World War.

‘Friary’ Park 1812 (object 21) (1)

The centenary falls this year with a week of celebratory events from 21st to 30th September. To accompany this and provide a more permanent record, local historian Alan Green has selected in his new book 100 ‘objects’ (artefacts, people, events etc) that in some way are connected to the park. Drawing on a variety of sources and aided by a grant from the Chichester City Council the result is a cornucopia of colourful images spanning the period from Roman Times to the present day – passing on the way the Civil War in the 17th century, the Priory Park Society years in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and the interwar and war years.

All the ‘objects’ provide much to talk about, some being less familiar to the populace – so for some examples. The park has long been a location for public protest and pleasure. Thus, the Guildhall was the location for the trials of William Blake in 1804 (object 19) and of the Hawkhurst gang of smugglers in 1748 (object 16) while the Park was used for the protest rally against hospital closure plans in 2007 (object 90).

Hawkhurst Gang (object 16) (2)

In contrast the Park’s grassy expanse has seen cricket since the 16th century (object 30), a bowling green from mid 17th century (object 39), tennis tournaments (object 47), and during the first world war entertainment for wounded soldiers (object 46).

Progamme of entertainment (object 46) (3)

Celebrations have over the years been conducted for royalty such as Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 (object 37) and George V’s silver jubilee in 1935  (objects 60 and 61).

The span of true objects includes archaeological finds such as a fragment of an encaustic tile (object 9) from the long-lost Friary, the Coade Stone Druid statue (object 33) made of a patented ceramic, and locally-made cast-iron casement windows (object 29) in the refreshment room, these serving later as a clubhouse for cricketers and hockey players. The general public are now well served by Fenwick’s Café (object 94) started in 2013 as a temporary measure but now on a more permanent footing.

Fenwicks Cafe (object 94) (4)

Personalities are not neglected, principally Charles, Earl of March and Kinrara (object 48) whose gift was the Park itself and who is the great-great-grandfather of the current Duke of Richmond and Gordon, the author of the book’s foreword. Various bodies were also granted the Corporate Freedom of the City of Chichester with the honour being conferred in the park, one being RAF Tangmere (object 82) in 1960, another the Royal Sussex Regiment (Object 74).

Freedom of the City (object 74) (5)







A support group was established in 2004 by the Chichester District Council and is now called the ‘Friends of Priory Park and Jubilee Gardens’ as its remit now includes the Jubilee Gardens.

Splendidly illustrated and furnished with an extensive index and references for those wishing to delve further, Alan’s book also provides a window on the life and times of the broader Chichester community.

It is published by Phillimore Book Publishing at £15 and copies are available from Kim’s bookshop, Waterstones, West Sussex Record Office and the Novium.

(1) The cartographic town plan was that of George Loader surveyed in 1812
(2) The illustration comes from ‘A Gentleman at Chichester’ A full and Genuine History of the Inhuman and Unparalleled Murders of Mr William Galley etc etc London, 1749
(3) Image from West Sussex Record Office
(4) Image from Alan Green
(5) Image from Chichester City Council

Chichester Picture Quiz Trail

Enjoy a tour of Chichester and find where the photographs were taken.

The page below shows just 16 of 47 images for you to locate within the City. Download the complete guide by clicking here or  on the image and receive a map with indicative locations.

The text below provides some information on the various items and can also be downloaded here.















The following provides brief information about the photographs included in the Chichester I-Spy quiz, with some links to other sites.

1. Site of former Shippams Paste factory. Probably Chichester’s best known local firm, dating back to the 18th century and closed in 2002. Now housing retail outlets with apartments above. The former clock and wishbone were reinstated. For more information:

2. Noli me Tangere – a 1960 painting by Graham Sutherland, which is displayed on the altar of the Mary Magdalene chapel at the south-eastern corner of the Cathedral.

3. 18th century Sadlers Warehouse, converted to apartments, providing evidence of Chichester’s former commercial base.

4. Wall surrounding part of the Bishop’s Palace Garden.

5. The front entrance of Pallant House, a Grade One listed Queen Anne town house, now housing part of the Pallant House Gallery. Known locally as “Dodo House” because the owner, Henry Peckham, wanted ostriches carved on columns (ostriches appear on his family coat of arms). However the person who carved them had probably never seen an ostrich and they are said to look more like dodos.

6. The Oxmarket Gallery is located within a deconsecrated medieval church (St Andrews), which is a Grade Two * listed building. It is an art centre run by volunteers since the early 1970s.  For more information: .

7. St John’s the Evangelist’s Church is a Grade One listed building, built in 1812. For more information

8. Art or graffiti? ‘The Big Deal’ which shows children swapping bank notes at North Pallant. Created by street artist JPS who also created the cat on the corner of West Pallant and South Street. For more information :

9. The Grade One listed Cathedral Bell Tower (viewed from the Bishops Palace Garden). An early 15th century structure unique among England’s medieval cathedrals in that it is free-standing.

10. Now a hotel, this plaque marks the former home of Admiral Sir George Murray (1759 – 1819). For more information:

11. The Deanery, a Grade Two* listed building, erected in 1725 by Dean Thomas Sherlock. It is understood that the former deanery was destroyed in a siege in 1643.

12. City Gunpowder Store – Self-explanatory.

13. The entrance to gardens marking the site of St Martin’s Church. The medieval flint walls of the former church now enclosing part of a garden

14. Thomas Iveson and Richard Hook black plaquelLocated on the wall of the Providence Chapel, which is still in use for worship today.

15. One of two crane sculptures reflecting the name of the street within which it is located.

16. The Novium Museum, home to the Tourist Information Centre, with changing exhibitions and permanent displays, including Roman remains. For more information:

17. Quaker Meeting House plaque – Self-explanatory. For more information on the history of Quakers in Chichester:

18. Chichester Cathedral, viewed from the Bishops Palace Garden. Over 900 years old, this Grade One listed building is currently undergoing extensive restoration work costing some £5.8 million. Its spire is visible from the sea and used as an aid to navigation. In 1861 the spire collapsed due to building works below to provide for a new organ, which destabilised the tower. It was rebuilt in just five years, with the original weathercock re-fixed at the top. For more information:

19. One of several access points to the City walls. To ease the flow of traffic into Chichester West, North and South gates were demolished in 1773. Eastgate was demolished in 1783.

20. County Hall, home to West Sussex County Council.

21. West Sussex Library Headquarters, a Grade Two listed building built in 1965-6 to the designs of the county architect. The building was formally opened on 24 January 1967 by Asa Briggs, Vice-chancellor elect of the University of Sussex.

22. Lion atop The Council House (giving nearby Lion Street its name). This comprises a group of connected buildings built at different times between 1731 and 1881. The buildings remain in regular use by various organisations including Chichester City Council.

23. A former Grade Two Listed Council building now housing a retail outlet and offices.

24. North House, built in 1936 and currently in retail and residential use. Ordnance Survey maps of the 1930’s indicate there was possibly a hotel in this location. .

25. A plaque possibly relating to the former restaurant at the top of North Street known as Number One.

26. The Grade One listed Guildhall set amid Priory Park, which is bordered by the Roman City Walls to the north and east and contains the remains of Chichester Castle (a Norman motte and bailey castle). It was constructed as a chancel by the Grey Friars of Chichester, being a good example of late 13th-century architecture. It is one of the few Franciscan churches in England that is still roofed.

27. Tapestry by John Piper at the high altar in Chichester Cathedral.

28. Gold dolphin and anchor reflecting the name of a former hotel in this location. These began as two separate establishments, The Dolphin and The Anchor, but merged in 1910. It remained a hotel until 1996 when it was sold.

29. Eric Gill plaque – Self-explanatory. For more information

30. The site of the former Oliver Whitby School, currently in retail use. Founded in 1702, for 12 scholars, the school closed at the end of 1949, merging with Christ’s Hospital School near Horsham. The school motto Vis et Sapientia (strength and wisdom) is still visible on the upper level.

31. Crooked S Lane was once called The Shambles and was full of slaughterhouses, where butchers threw offal into the street.

32. Decorative stonework outside Edes House, constructed in 1696 for John and Hannah Edes. It has been known by various names during its history, including Wren’s House (in the mistaken belief that it was the work of the famous architect). It is now owned by the County Council and used for weddings and other functions.

33. Small door within Canon Gate, or the gatehouse to Canon Lane, probably constructed around the 16th century. The area fell into disrepair and the space
between the smaller arches was used as a stable. In 1894 it was restored and the upper story reconstructed.

34. An ancient tree within the Bishops Palace Gardens.

35. A bronze statue of St Richard of Chichester by Philip Jackson.

36. A recently installed statue of Keats. He looks down East Street towards Chichester Cathedral and other landmarks mentioned in his famous poem, “The Eve of St Agnes”. Behind him is the building in which he started writing the poem.

37. Location of Halsteds Foundry – Self-explanatory. For more information on the history of Halsteds

38. A sign advertising the wares of a related shop, especially helpful for those who could not read.

39. Interesting architectural detail in one of the few remaining jettied timber framed buildings in Chichester.

40. Railings that escaped removal during the war effort. It is understood that some were relocated from the nearby cattle market.

41. The site of the Swan Inn, a key building in the centre of Chichester throughout the 18th and 19th century, destroyed by fire in 1819 and rebuilt. Visitors included Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1842. It was again destroyed by fire in 1897 and forced to close. The London and County Bank rebuilt on the site in a gothic style and that building is now Grade Two listed. The bank sign can still be seen carved into the building above the main entrance.

42. The Clock House is a converted coach house, now used for tourist accommodation.

43. Art or graffiti? Created by artist Stik, whose Stick-like figures are highly sought after with celebrity followers including Sir Elton John and Bono. For more information on street art in Chichester

44. The Grade One listed Market Cross, erected in 1501 by Bishop Storey. One had to pay a toll to sell goods at the market but some poor peasants only had a few eggs or a few vegetables to sell. The bishop said anyone could sell things at the market and not pay a toll provided they could stand under the cross. In 1726 four clocks were added to the cross.

45. Detail of a window in a medical practice next door to Edes House (see no. 32), which was removed from that larger neighbouring property.

46. 18th-century sundial on the south face of the angle buttress of the Chichester Cathedral.

47. St Olave Church in North Street For more information:

If you’ve enjoyed this experience why not join the Chichester Society here and receive our quarterly Newsletter packed with local current and historical interest (you can view back copies here).

The South-West Prospect of the City of Chichester in the 1730s


This view, from what is now the Waitrose car park, is the ‘South-West Prospect of the City of Chichester’ by printmaker Nathanial Buck published in 1738 and comes from the British Library website. Click on image for enlarged view 

Once part of George III’s Topographical Collection which his son, George IV, gave to the nation in 1829, this print can be consulted today in the British Library (Cartographic Items Maps K Top. 42.19.c).

Working from the west side of the image eastwards, the viewer (you are probably on top of the multi-story car park by the railway station) can make out Ede’s House, the roofs of property in West Street , the Bishop’s Palace and its adjoining gardens with the Bell Tower behind, the cathedral building, parts of which are decidedly dilapidated, properties on the site of 4, Canon Lane, and The Deanery. The spire of All Saints in the East Pallant (which does not exist today) and the top of the Market Cross can also be made out.
The city walls flank the Bishop’s gardens and a series of water courses fill the foreground, now the Prebendal.

Numbered references in the picture:

3              The Bishops Palace
4              The Cathedral
5              The Market Cross
6              The Deanery

Not shown are:

1              London Road on Rook’s hill
2              The Brill or broil
7              All Saints Church in the Pallant

The text at the bottom of the print reads:

This City was built by and derives its name from Cissa a Saxon King about the year 520, but the several Pavements, Medals, and other Roman Antiquities of late discovered in it plainly prove that it was once a Roman Station.

Till the Norman Conquest it was of no great note; but in the reign of William I it began to flourish, the Episcopal See being then brought hither from Selsey. Not long after, Bishop Ralph built a Cathedral Church here which was casually burnt down before it was fully finished, but by his Endeavours and the liberality of Henry I it was soon rebuilt, as it was afterwards by Bishop Seffrid the 2nd upon a like conflagration.

The Church is not remarkably large, but neat, especially the Quire; the Spire is very high and reckoned as elegant as any in England. It has belonging to it besides the Bishop a Dean, Chaunter, Chancellor, Treasurer, 2 Archdeacons, 4 Canon Residentiaries, about 26 Prebendaries, 4 Vicars General, several Lay Vicars, Choristers and many others.

The City is situated too much upon a flatt for a very advantageous Prospect to be taken of it; it is walled about in a Circular form and washed on every Side, except the North, with the little river Lavant. The 4 Gates of the City open to the four quarters of the World, from whence the 4 principal streets (spacious and regular) take their names and meet almost at a common Centre where there is a stone Piazza (or Cross) built by Bishop Story, very commodious and much admired for the beauty of its Architecture. In the North Street is a very handsome and convenient Council House, with a Market House under it, lately built by Subscription, under the more immediate Direction and Encouragement of his Grace the Duke of Richmond.

The chief Traffick of the City is in Corn and Cattle; for both which the Markets here are as considerable as most in the Kingdom. It is well supplied with provisions of all sorts, particularly Shell fish, lobsters, Prawns, and Crabbs; being in the utmost perfection here in the proper Season.

The City within and without the Walls contains 7 Parishes; is governed by a Mayor, Recorder, Aldermen and a Common Council and sends 2 Members to Parliament. The present are The Honourable James Brudenell Esq and Thomas Yates Esquire.

Samuel and Nathaniel Buck delin et sculp According to Act of Parliament 1738



Chichester during Civil War 1642-1646 – Flow chart and references

The Society has published Heritage Trail No.6 Chichester during the English Civil War available for download here. It describes the beginnings of the  Civil War and in particular the impact it had on Chichester and the roles played by these individuals.  Four of the main buildings and locations involved in this event are cited and form a trail that can be followed from the North to the East and finally to the South finishing at the Cathedral.

 Physical copies of the leaflet and all previous trails are available from Chichester Library, The Tourist Information Centre at the Novium, West Sussex Record Office and The Council House (City Council offices) in North Street. For details of all  Heritage Trail leaflets see here or go the dedicated Trails website

The information provided here supplements that in the Trail leaflet.
It comprises:
  • a flow chart of the main events in the form of a timeline (see below) which can be printed off (click the image) or downloaded as a pdf for offline reference when walking the Trail
  • additional information (below the flow chart) about the personalities and events  including links to other posts and sources – these will be added to where relevant.

Further information about Heritage Trail leaflets can be found here and on a separate website where there is detailed information whole project.

If you have any comments concerning this post please use the contact form
































Henry Chitty
Little seems to be known about Henry Chitty despite the important local role he played in the Civil War. Some information about his personal background was found in a genealogical study on the Chitty name here.

Henry Chitty – Roundhead in the Civil War in Chichester

Henry Chitty (sometimes spelt Chittey) was the captain of the local militia, known as the trained band at the time of the Civil War. He was central in the defense of the City in 1642 as described in our Heritage Trail Leaflet No.6.

A Puritan Roundhead

Little other information is known about him except for some personal details from a genealogical study of the Chitty Name from which the following is culled with thanks.

Henry’s father was Richard Chitty, the second son Henry Chitty a mercer Richard migrated to Chichester where he set up as a weaver. He was aged ‘four score and three years’ when he made his will in 1635, and it was proved 1637. Besides his own house he left one in Godalming, but his will names only his wife and daughters and their children. (He seems to have had two married daughters named Martha, among others). The baptism of only one of his children has been discovered (dated 1577) and if he had a surviving son it is odd that no such man appears as beneficiary, witness, executor or overseer; yet it is tempting to suppose that Richard was the father of the Roundhead Henry Chitty.

This Henry Chitty of Chichester married at New Shoreham in 1605. In 1614 he was named as ‘late servant’ (probably meaning apprentice) in the will of Alderman William Holland of Chichester. By 1623, Henry was himself an Alderman and was engaged in a lawsuit regarding property which he had bought in Canterbury.

In 1628 he and one of his daughters were named in the will of Alderman Augustine Hitchcocke of Chichester, and in 1632 Henry was sessor in goods and Mayor of Chichester, and took a lease of the Dolphin Inn, which he sold in 1637 (perhaps he was too busy and too prosperous for Richard to trouble him with duties or leave him a share in his own, smaller, estate). He appears as a J.P. in the West Sussex Protestation Returns in 1641/2, and was Captain of Train Bands in Chichester in 1642. Next year he was captain of a Company of Foot in the Parliamentary interest in Portsmouth Garrison. In 1614 he was described as a merchant, but his precise trade is not known. His will (1644/5) names only daughters and his property included his dwelling in West Street near the High Cross, and leases at Bosham and North Vallence* .

*could this be North Pallant?

Halsteds the Ironmongers – Chi’s long-forgotten industrial history

The business was founded in the 1840s  by Charles Townsend Halsted, one of 3 sons of Charles Halsted, and the principal driving force behind developing the business. It traded through a shop in East Street (Nos 80 and later 81/82)and subsequently established first a brass foundry at 20 North Pallant and later a larger main iron works in the garden of 1 North Pallant as shown in the map below. (Click to enlarge).

Charles Townsend Halsted died in 1891. The following is an extract from the records of the Probate Service‘HALSTED Charles Townsend of Chichester esquire died 25 December 1891. Probate London 14 March (1892) to Maria Halsted widow Sir Robert George Raper knight James Lainson Gauntlett gentleman and Charles Edward Halsted esquire. Effects £60758 13s. 1d. resworn January 1893 £61425 13s. 7d.’

In 2016 , his estate would be worth  £6,010,000.00 using the retail price index (Source – Measuring Worth) – clearly he was a successful businessman of the time.

The following concept map provides an overview of the history of Halsted & Sons’ ironmongery and foundry business in Chichester  (click it for clearer view).

More detailed information concerning the sons and the business itself can be found by using the numbered links below the map.  Below are some additional images.

(1) Charles Townsend Halsted   Source – The Halsted Trust
(2) Henry Halsted    Source – The Halsted Trust
(3) John Halsted  Source – The Halsted Trust
(4a) Halsted’s the Ironmongers  (An overview) Source – Pat Saunders , The Novium
(4b) Halsted and Sons of Chichester (Detailed article) Source – Alan H J Green, Sussex Industrial History no 35, 2005
(5) The Great Exhibition Source – Grace’s Guide to British Industrial History

The 1851 Great Exhibition










Halsted small kitchen range Amberley Working Museum ex Grace’s guide



Nos 1 & 1A North Pallant both once owned by the Halsteds
Blue plaque at 1A North Pallant next to passageway to Halsted’s works





























Halsted shop 81-82 East Street (Copyright of the Novium ( a service provided by Chichester District Council). All rights reserved)



81-82 East Street with the Halsted Key Emblem above the first floor (picture taken July 2016)







Halsted key emblem

























A D-Day secret?

Ken Rimell relates a disturbing story of what we might have deployed if the invasion faltered

This story emerged several years ago from a reliable source. It seemed at the time that the end result would have been catastrophic to say the least, had it taken place, but my source was adamant that it was true.

The planning for D-Day in 1944 took many avenues for it to succeed, the allies had taken almost everything into consideration for its ultimate result, but for two major factors, the weather and the throwing back of the allies into the waters of the Normandy beaches, and operation Overlord grinding to a halt with a massive loss life. The story came out during a reunion of Hawker Typhoon pilots in the late 1980’s when one of the pilots, a former Wing Commander, mentioned there was an ‘alternative’ solution had the day fared badly for the liberating forces. Typical of these reunions it was after a few drinks that these pilots could recall those days sharing them in the knowledge it was with fellow airmen in a convivial atmosphere, but this story has a certain credibility, and not a line shoot.

Typhoons at RAF Selsey 1943

Operation Overlord was the name given to the beginning of the liberation of France, with landings all along the Normandy Coastline by the allied forces, the strategic planning, carried out at two major locations here in the south with Southwark House, just north of Fareham, dealing with the ground forces attack while a few miles away in Chichester at what was once Bishop Otter College, the airborne assault was directed. This location was ideal for there were so many airfields in the area, nine at one point, packed with fighters and fighter bombers. During the run up to D-Day and from mid 1943 ALG’s were built (Advanced Landing Grounds) in the area, where runways were made of a special metal sheeting known as either bar and rod or summerfelt tracking. These were capable of coping with the weight of such aircraft as Typhoons, Spitfires, Mustangs . The panels were easily put into place, pinned with spikes and supported with the rapid growth of grass passing through the metal holes, thus holding the runways firmly in place. This story will deal with the Hawker Typhoon and the squadrons in our area operating from some of these makeshift landing grounds at the crucial time of war.

Villages such as Apuldram, Funtington, Selsey, Westhampnett and Bognor, were soon home to the airfields that housed these squadrons adding to the list of the more permanent airfields such as Tangmere, Ford, Thorney Island, Merston, that were already well established. Operating from the south coast region meant the Typhoons flying time over enemy territory would be greatly extended, and even further with the addition of extra fuel tanks that could be jettisoned should the need arise. It was these extra fuel tanks, teardrop in shape, that was to cause a major concern at one of the airfields here in the south.

It was in the winter of 1943/44 that a large deep pit was dug at one of these airfields and cordoned off. Speculation that the hole was to be an Emergency Water Supply, were soon dispelled when a fleet of RAF lorries complete with a large RAF guard appeared early one evening and ushered any peeking eyes well away. One eyewitness, who had escaped the security order noted a huge number of these fuel tanks were strapped to the lorries cargo area. In the ensuing hours and well into the dark the job of offloading this cargo went on and lowering gently into the pit. By morning the hole and its cargo was covered by earth, but still cordoned off. According to the story these drop tanks didn’t contain fuel but were filled with the deadly mustard gas, a safeguard should the allied landings show signs of failing and an order directly from the War Office to drop them on the enemy was tasked to one Typhoon squadron.

Drop tanks on Typhoon

To a degree I overlooked the matter for several years but at a following reunion some time later my informant hove into view, the intervening years had seen the onset of what looked like dementia, so my appeal for more information, from this now elderly gentleman on this extraordinary claim was met with a blank expression, or was it that he didn’t want to elaborate further? While the story is quite feasible I wanted to know which airfield here in the south housed that deadly cargo and was it ever recovered after the war, but my question was unanswered and the mystery remained.

Driving past the former airfield at Merston in the late 1980’s I spotted a team of military personnel in the centre with heavy plant and machinery. I wandered over to see what was happening and found it was an army bomb disposal unit tasked with removing wartime pipe mines on the runway intersections. These mines were buried so that in the event of an invasion the runways could be blown up and prevent their use by an enemy force. The commander in charge told me that they were making sure that the Canadian forces, tasked with the job in 1946, had in fact done the clearing properly. Not knowing which airfield held that deadly gas pile I mentioned this to the army commander and after setting off charges to destroy several long sticks of pipe mines that had been overlooked in 1946, they went off in search of this noxious and deadly substance, but nothing was found. The same applied when pipe mines were dealt with at airfields at Tangmere, Thorney Island and Ford leaving other airfields, such as the ALG’s, that didn’t have pipe mines to be not searched by the army bomb disposal teams that may still house this terrible weapon.

To me this story has a certain credibility, with such few people being involved with its possible application at government level it could be true, on the other hand it could be a good story dreamt up by a retired RAF Officer to fuel the ever expanding myth about special wartime activities, a sort of James Bond. But the look in his eyes when telling the story, and in some detail, there was a ring of truth in what he was saying. The fuel drop tanks fitted to fighter and fighter bomber aircraft at the time were made of either light metal or, to save vital metal, of papier mâché, a glue impregnated paper. How they were prepared for storage underground at this mystery location is       unknown, whether they were removed as secretly as they arrived and destroyed after the war is also unknown, leaving speculation that they might even be still lurking deep in a Sussex field. Thankfully they were never used in anger and the allies secured a foothold in France and on to victory, but the thought of their use sends a shiver down my spine at the outcome had push come to shove, more so if they are still evident somewhere in a Sussex field!

This article originally appeared in Sussex Views May 2017 and is reproduced with the kind permission of the author.