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The Chichester Punch


‘Punch’ was the most well read satirical magazine of the Victorian era. It commenced in the 1840s as a stout defender of Free Trade and Liberalism, although later turned to support the Conservatives.

In 1868 a version of the journal was started in Chichester under the name ‘The Chichester Punch’, claiming it was the ‘son’ of its ‘honoured father’, and that such a publication was needed to counter the Chichester Courier (forerunner of the Chichester Observer), which it dismissed as a ‘weak-ly’ paper.

The Chichester Punch claimed to have offices at ‘Punch Office’ in North Street. It would seem that its publication coincided with the General Election of 1868. It is not known whether publication continued after the election.

Thomas Pryer – A Lifelong Cicestrian

thomas-pryerThomas Pryer, lifelong resident of Chichester, was interviewed by the West Sussex Gazette in 1936, when he was 91 years old. The ‘Gazette claimed he was their oldest reader, who remembered when the ‘papers first edition was published in 1853.

Pryer remembered seeing old cottages that stood opposite the Cathedral in West Street being demolished. He attended the Oliver Whitby (‘Bluecoat School’) in West Street. He recalled that for supper they were given beer in ‘tin mugs’ and that in the morning the same mugs – unwashed – were filled with milk for breakfast.

He claimed that in his youth he met the great Free Trade advocate, Richard Cobden, and also Henry Manning, who would later find fame as Cardinal Manning – the first Roman Catholic cardinal in England since The  Reformation.

Memories of nineteenth century Chichester

An old resident was interviewed by the West Sussex Gazette back in 1887. His name was not given but it was said his memories went back ’70 or 80 years,’ to the start of the nineteenth century. This man remembered that the first gas lighting in Chichester was at The Cross in 1863, which was working in time to celebrate the wedding of the Prince of Wales that took place in that year.

The old man remembered the fairs that were held annually at St. Pancras and that that attracted people from a wide area. He recalled : “Now, at this fair it was a rare place for young men to buy their whips. And it was great fun to hear them snap their whips when they were walking about the town with their sweethearts, for of course, they always brought those in, and bought them new ribbons for their caps and bonnets.”

He also remembered the Henty Brewery, which is his youth was known as Humphries Brewery.

The White Horse Inn, Northgate

The White Horse Inn at Northgate closed many years ago, but it is known to have dated back to the mid-seventeenth century.

Rose Ruffle, who was born in 1916, remembered working at the White Horse when she was fourteen. She worked long hours for little pay, just four shillings (20p) a week.

Mr and Mrs Price ran the pub and treated their staff with some disdain, as Rose recalled: “I was the servant, they were the owners and that was that, and I would be there washing the glasses and cleaning up. They had their fish and chips after closing, while I was cleaning. They didn’t let me join them. It was like that in those days.

Rose’s father had died in the First World War, so she had to try and earn money to help her mother who was struggling on a meagre war pension.

The Shoe-maker poet

A humble Chichester shoe-maker, who left school at 11, went on to become a poet of some renown, as well as becoming sexton and verger of Chichester Cathedral. Charles Crocker was born in Chichester in 1797 of poor parents. At the age of seven he was fortunate enough to win a place at the city’s Grey Coat Charity School (not to be confused with the more famous Blue Coat school). Here he learned “those religious principles which have rendered my condition more than commonly blest”. At the age of eleven, Crocker was apprenticed to a Chichester shoemaker and remained in that employment until he was 47, latterly at a premises in Little London.

John Thelwall
John Thelwall

During these years, Crocker began to write poetry. He wrote of the landscape about him, including the trees and beauty spots he came to know and love so well. His two best received poems were ‘The British Oak’ and ‘Kingley Vale’. He found his inspiration in the poetry of Oliver Goldsmith, William Cowper, and the Chichester poet, William Collins. Crocker was hugely influenced by a lecture given in Chichester by the polymath and political reformer, John Thelwall, on the life and work of John Milton. This one lecture, Crocker later claimed, inspired him to write verse more than any book he ever read.

A Chichester doctor, John Forbes, befriended Crocker, and encouraged him to publish some of his poems. Crocker’s collection, ‘Kingley Vale and other Poems’, appeared in 1830, to much acclaim. In one poem, ‘Labour and the Muse’, Crocker described how verse came to his mind as he worked –

How sweetly pass the solitary hours,
When prison’d here with toil I sit and muse
My fancy roving ‘mong poetic flowers,
Delighted with their beauteous forms and hues.

John Forbes
John Forbes

Forbes went on to become Physician to the Queen’s Household and was knighted by Queen Victoria. It was perhaps through Forbes’ London connections that Crocker was introduced to Robert Southey, who declared that Crocker’s ‘The British Oak’, was “the finest, if not the finest [poem], in the English language”. Crocker was now earning a good living as a poet and in 1844 he finally gave up shoe-making.

Crocker did not leave his beloved Chichester for the bright lights of London, but actually rooted himself more deeply in the city and its history. He became both sexton and verger of Chichester Cathedral. In 1848 he published ‘Visit to Chichester Cathedral’, the first ever guide book to the cathedral. As he grew older, Crocker delighted in taking visitors around the cathedral and telling them of its history and showing them the shrines and ornaments of that ancient place of worship.

Collapsed_spireOn 21st February 1861, during restoration works, the spire of Chichester Cathedral collapsed – crashing into the nave. The scene of destruction made a deep impression on Crocker, who believed the spire to be the crowing glory of ‘his’ cathedral – superior even to Salisbury’s. The Sussex antiquarian, Mark Anthony Lower, who visited Crocker shortly afterwards, found his friend distraught by the calamity that had overtaken his beloved cathedral. He did not recover from the shock and died six months later on 6th October. Crocker’s funeral was an impressive sight. The great and the good of the city followed the cortege in silent tribute. One friend noted, “the fall of Chichester spire killed but one man and that man was Charles Crocker”.

In March 2014, a blue plaque to Charles Crocker was placed on Kim’s Bookshop in South Street, Chichester, where the poet died in 1861.

When the Civil War came to Chichester

Exterior view of Cawley Almshouse

It is said there is no war worse than a civil war, with communities and even families being divided against each other.

In December 1642, civil war came to Chichester. As King Charles I sought to wrest control of his kingdom from a rebellious parliament, armed conflict broke out across the country.

Chichester was a city divided, with prominent citizens taking up the cause of king and parliament respectively. One of the city’s MPs, William Cawley, well known in Chichester for establishing almshouses for the poor, was a stern critic of the king. Henry Chitty was another parliament man and Captain of the Trained Band of Chichester – a seventeenth century version of the Home Guard. Ranged against them were Sir William Morley, who lived in the Cathedral Close, and Sir Edward Ford, the High Sheriff of Sussex, who had only recently being elevated to his position by King Charles.

An uneasy truce between the two factions broke out into armed conflict and lead to the city being besieged and under bombardment for several weeks. Sir Edward Ford, who lived at Uppark, raised the county militia, in an effort to dislodge the parliamentary forces in Chichester. Although he was initially successful, his victory was short lived, as a superior force under General William Waller laid siege to the city.

The story of those frantic days in December 1642 forms the basis of the 6th Chichester Heritage Trail. For more information click here

Design Protocol – An approach to achieving high quality design in developments

With housing developments ongoing and likely to accelerate it is timely to consider the Council’s approach to housing design.

The Chichester Design Protocol was published in 2013 and sets out the Council’s approach to making our District more successful through quality design. It is intended to underpin their commitment to achieving sustainable development. The protocol sets out how the Council will ensure that the design of buildings, places, spaces and the networks that make up our towns and city and rural areas, work for all of us, both now and in the future.

The Chichester Society noted at the time that CDC’s priority objective for more homes needs to be balanced by insisting on design quality and landscaping.

To this the Council responded that “policies in the adopted Local Plan seek to secure a high standard of design and layout in new development and aim to ensure that development respects the character of its surroundings. Development at the strategic development locations (e.g. West of Chichester) is also subject to a Planning ‘Concept Statement’ prepared by Council officers and approved by the Council which sets out a clear statement of design guidance and principles that informed the preparation of masterplans by the developers to ensure that a coordinated approach is taken to the development and associated infrastructure and in subsequent applications for outline and detailed planning permission. The planning system allows applicants to apply for outline planning permission to establish the quantum and principles of development prior to developing more detailed plans of the scheme. Subsequent applications for reserved matters approval are subject to the Council’s usual public notification and consultation procedures and the same referral criteria to the Planning Committee as for outline applications under the Council’s constitution also apply. There is, therefore, ample opportunity for the public to be engaged in the planning process for such applications”.

The full document can be read here.

It is not known if the Council plans to update this document.

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 BID reports on work to deliver the Chichester Vision

Work to deliver the priorities set out in the Chichester Vision will shift up a gear thanks to a detailed action plan which sets out timescales and responsibilities.

The Chichester Vision looks ahead over the next 20 years and brings together a wealth of ideas that have been put forward by individuals, groups and organisations across the city.

The aim is to help Chichester attract inward investment and stimulate economic growth by making the most of its heritage and culture, while also adapting to better meet the needs of residents, workers, visitors, and students.

Priorities are to reduce traffic, support independent businesses and create a more diverse evening culture

The Vision was formally adopted this year by Chichester District Council, West Sussex County Council, Chichester City Council and the board of Chichester BID (Business Improvement District). A Steering Group will oversee the delivery plan which states what the short and medium term goals are.

Four of the main Vision projects have been identified as part of the newly announced Growth Deal for Chichester. These are schemes which will require close partnership working between Chichester District Council and West Sussex County Council.

These include the Southern Gateway, Northern Gateway, West Sussex Gigabit Project, and a City Centre Transport Feasibility Study. This study, which is being led by WSCC, is a crucial piece of work as a number of other Vision projects are connected to it.

“This is a very exciting time and there is a strong sense of people working together to help achieve this Vision,” says Councillor Tony Dignum, Leader of Chichester District Council. “It is extremely positive that the lead projects have been identified in the Growth Deal. By prioritising them and providing resources it shows everyone is committed and serious about making them happen.

“Meanwhile, the Vision Steering Group’s focus will be on much smaller projects but which share the objective of making the city more attractive to users of all ages: residents, visitors, workers and students.

“Typical examples of such projects are: improved wayfinding, more cycle racks and benches, Priory Park building refurbishment, and an improved tourism offer. We are delighted that a funding bid to the West Sussex pooled business rates has been successful. This funding will be used to help improve shop fronts in the city and we will have more detail about this at the beginning of next year.

“Of course, it’s important to remember that the Chichester Vision is a long term look at the city, so it will take time to achieve everything that has been set out. We have made an excellent start and I want to reassure people that they will be updated regularly on progress as we move these projects forward.”

Released by BID 5 December 2017

The Society’s response to the SDNPA Local Plan Consultion

The South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) produced a pre-Submission version of their Local Plan  for public consultation from 26 September to 21 November 2017.

The Society’s response has been filed and is reproduced below. (A copy of the full submission document can be found here)

(Images from the SDNPA – click on images for full view)

‘The Chichester Society supports this first landscape-led Local Plan for the South Downs National Park. We support the Plan’s Core, Strategic, and Development Management policies.

We particularly commend policies SD4-SD8. (SD4-Landscape Character, SD5-Design, SD6-Views, SD7- Relative Tranquillity and SD8-Dark Night Skies).

We recognise that little development is proposed within the National Park in the vicinity of Chichester, but we support the small housing allocations in the adopted Lavant Neighbourhood Plan and the small housing site at West Ashling (Policy SD95). We are however concerned that major developments on the coastal plain outside the National Park boundary, particularly around Chichester, are likely to result in adverse impacts on the National Park. We hope that the duty to co-operate between the South Downs NPA and Chichester DC will be maintained, and that policies SD4-8 will be at the forefront of all negotiations between the two authorities so that the adverse impacts can be mitigated as far as possible.

Concerning the supply of housing (SD 26 – Supply of Homes), we recognise that National Park Authorities are not required to meet the ‘objectively assessed need’ (OAN) for housing. However, the strict policies limiting development within the South Downs National Park are already causing intense development pressures on areas outside the Park, especially on the West Sussex Coastal Plain which affect Arun and Chichester District Councils. The Society notes several adopted Neighbourhood Plans within the National Park have increased their provision for housing, greater than that allocated by the Park Authority. Local communities across the Park have decided they can accommodate increased numbers, especially if 50 percent of new housing is affordable. The Society would advance this argument by supporting as much housing in Downland communities as can be accommodated without damaging the wider landscape environment.

We are pleased that the Plan recognises that Chichester is the major gateway to the National Park from the coastal plain. We support Strategic Policy SD19c Improvements to walking, cycling and bus connectivity. The extension of Centurion Way to Midhurst, together with proposed linked footpaths/cycleways east of the City to East Lavant and The Trundle, will provide high quality sustainable access to the National Park.

We have one criticism of the Local Plan Policies Map- Western Area: South. The extensive brown stippling across much of this map to indicate ‘Mineral Safeguarding area’ detracts from the clarity and makes it challenging to read. Minerals are already covered by the joint West Sussex/South Downs Minerals Local Plan.’