Chichester Heritage Trails – A journey through 200 years of history

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Trail 7: Churches and Chapels
Further information below


Many wealthy royalists lived in Chichester, or at least had homes in the city, including Sir John Morley, Sir Thomas Boyer and Christopher Lewknor. Opposing them were Henry Chitty, the captain of the local militia, known as the trained band, and the MP for Midhurst, William Cawley.

This leaflet describes the beginnings of the English 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.


Chichester has 518 listed buildings, 18 of which are Grade 1. Find out more about them on the Heritage Trails and discover a lot of hidden architectural gems and stories about Chichester’s amazing history that will surprise you.

As part of the Chichester Heritage Trails project we are interviewing people about their memories of the city. You will notice that we have used extracts from oral history interviews in the first four trails that we published.

Do you remember Chichester in the 1960s or 50s or earlier? If so, we would really like to hear from you. You may remember shops or pubs that have now closed, or colourful personalities from the past who have been forgotten?

If you would like to share your reminiscences, please contact Chris Hare at or call him on 07794 600639.

Further information about this initiative is available on a dedicated website here.

The website contains many historical snippets of Chichester history, most of which are illustrated with contemporary images and photographs. We aim to regularly update the website with new snippets, so please keeping looking to see our latest posts.

The first four trails

Chichester’s four principal streets still mainly follow the pattern of the Roman settlement, founded nearly two thousand years ago. The city walls – remarkably intact for an English town – also follow the Roman plan and contain masonry from the original construction. These four city centre walks explore each of Chichester’s historic quadrants that are divided by the four principal thoroughfares of North, South, East and West streets. Each quadrant has its own special atmosphere and distinctive history. A great rebuilding from the late seventeenth century, replaced timber-framed thatched houses with the characteristic Georgian street scene of brick and stucco buildings that exist today.

Each trail is described below and can be downloaded by clicking the image to the right. Physical copies of the leaflets 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.

CHT-download_btn-Trail1Trail 1 – North-West Quadrant

The North-West Quadrant was, prior to the eighteenth century, dominated by market gardens and livestock farming, including slaughterhouses. Today, among the older buildings, are the modern administrative centres of a county town, including County Hall, Chichester Library and the Novium Museum.

Trail 2 – North-East Quadrant

CHT-download_btn-Trail2This part of Chichester once had five churches and a Franciscan Priory; today three of the churches have been lost and the remaining two, along with the priory chapel have been converted to secular uses. The open greenery of Priory Park, framed by the city walls give a sense of space and peace to the north-east quadrant.

Trail 3 – South-East Quadrant

CHT-download_btn-Trail3This is very much a walk or two contrasting halves: there are the former inns and chapels of East Street, South Street and the New Town area and the pristine Georgian solemnity of the Pallants area. The former has changed markedly in recent decades, while the Pallants has changed very little, remaining a bastion of high quality housing and offices for professional workers.

Trail 4 – South-West Quadrant

CHT-download_btn-Trail4Chichester’s south-west quadrant is dominated by the cathedral and the Cathedral Close. Here Edmund Blunden beheld “its own simple character of communicative quietness,” while E.V.  Lucas observed that, “whatever noise may be in the air you know in your heart that quietude is its true character.” Even in 2016 these statements still hold true. As well as the Close and the cloisters of the cathedral, there are also the Bishop’s gardens to enjoy.  As well as the Close and the cathedral cloisters, you can enjoy the Bishop’s gardens too.

Trail 5 – Inns, Pubs and Hotels

Chichester’s earliest inns can be traced back to mediaeval times when they catered for pilgrims visiting the shrine of St Richard in the cathedral. Over time they came to serve all types of travellers, who needed rest and food after travelling along the notoriously bad Sussex roads. By the middle of the seventeenth century there were seven inns in Chichester, as well as 50 alehouses, taverns, and other premises that sold drink. Given the population was only 2,000 people at the time, of whom over half were women and children, it can be seen that Chichester was a boozy city and remained so until the beginning of the twentieth century. Today there are only a dozen public houses in the city centre and no inns. Many of the city’s old inns have been converted into restaurants or private accommodation. This trail includes both former as well as current pubs and inns. We begin at the western end of West Street.

Trail 6 – Chichester during the Civil War 1642-1646

The Trail 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.

A flow chart of the events in the form of a time line is available to accompany the leaflet – this plus additional information about these times can be found here


Trail 7 – Churches and Chapels

Chichester once had nine parish churches, catering for a
population, that in the seventeenth century, did not exceed
2,000 inhabitants. Today only two churches, St Paul’s, and
St Pancras, are still open for worship. As well as the Anglican churches, there were a number of non-conformist chapels that are also included in this trail. Churches and their clergy played apivotal role in the life of the city. A person’s social standing, as well as their piety, could be judged by the church they attended. Anglicans, Methodists, and Baptists often lived separate social as well as religious lives. The city’s Roman Catholics were the most  marginalised of all religious denominations – a situation that persisted within living memory.