Chichester merits UNESCO World Heritage Status

Why we believe Chichester merits consideration

When one studies William Gardner’s map of the City of Chichester dated 1769 it becomes clear how little of the really important elements of our great City have actually changed over all the years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nairn and Pevsner in their 1965 edition of the Buildings of England record that the Romans occupied Chichester almost immediately after the conquest and encircled its 100 acres with a wall much of which remains today. It misses its four cardinal gates and perhaps these could be reinstated.

But within its walls lie not only the Cathedral, distant views of which are dominant within the largely flat landscape, but also its precincts, the Market Cross, St Mary’s Hospital and a plethora of Georgian architecture lining its medieval street pattern. Of all the periods of English building, none has surpassed the Georgian era and we have numerous examples of houses rebuilt from about 1700. Dr Thomas Sharp’s 1949 report Georgian City commissioned by the City Council includes the pertinent remark that ‘Chichester is a very special city indeed which probably holds more of the purity and true essence of its type than any now remaining in England. It is an important and irreplaceable part of the national heritage’.

The Chichester Society Executive Committee believes that this kind of history could make Chichester a prime candidate for UNESCO World Heritage Status when one considers the good fit we make with UNESCO’s criteria for selection spelt out below. It can take years to submit an application but these delays may be acceptable if Chichester becomes better known both nationally and internationally. Our September newsletter will be asking our members what they think.

Do you agree that we should try? Please let us have your comments

The Selection Criteria for Inclusion

To be included on the World Heritage List, sites must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one out of ten selection criteria.

These criteria are explained in the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention which, besides the text of the Convention, is the main working tool on World Heritage. The criteria are regularly revised by the Committee to reflect the evolution of the World Heritage concept itself.

Until the end of 2004, World Heritage sites were selected on the basis of six cultural and four natural criteria. With the adoption of the revised Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention, only one set of ten criteria exists.

Selection criteria
  1. to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius;
  2. to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design;
  3. to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared;
  4. to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history;
  5. to be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change;
  6. to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance. (The (UNESCO) Committee considers that this criterion should preferably be used in conjunction with other criteria);
  7. to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance;
  8. to be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth’s history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features;
  9. to be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals;
  10. to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.

The protection, management, authenticity and integrity of properties are also important considerations. Since 1992 significant interactions between people and the natural environment have been recognized as cultural landscapes.


The extent of our history was captured in part by our Heritage Trails  -details of which are on our website here  where they are available in downloadable form or can be followed on a  smartphone or tablet as you walk around our City. Printed versions may be available from the Novium and other locations.

1 thought on “Chichester merits UNESCO World Heritage Status

  1. Yes, I think you should go for it. It would be well worth the time and trouble to put it on the map, as far as the world is concerned.
    It was probably trading with the Roman Empire before the conquest, it has the remains of an enormous Roman Palace, dating originally from the first century, the remains of the Roman city itself, which had piped water from the Lavant, I seem to remember. It had a Roman amphitheatre until 1944 – could more be made of that? The Roman City Walls were re-fortified with earthen banks, I think, in Alfred the Great’s Day. The Cathedral, of course, is ancient and magnificent, and replaced the original Saxon one at Selsey. It can be seen across the plains, and, I believe, from the sea. The Christian history, and the art in the building, the Close, all wonderful. It is situated next to several WW2 airfields, and didn’t SOE agents spend the hours before their departure from Tangmere at a local farmhouse? Boxgrove Priory – another ancient and beautiful church. Boxgrove man – the ancient remains. The Market Cross. The Georgian buildings. I think the area, including Chichester City, Fishbourne and Boxgrove, and maybe Tangmere, could make a package which encapsulates the whole history of England.

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