Category Archives: Society events

Events organised by or with which the Society is involved

David Johnson, Chair of CPRE talks about its work at our 2019 AGM


Sarah Quail reports on what David Johnson, Vice Chair of the Sussex Branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), had to say at Chichester Society’s AGM held 16 October 2019 in the Assembly Rooms.

Yes, we learned this startling fact about Bognor early in David Johnson’s address. I suppose we should not be particularly surprised. Acres of green field are fast disappearing round Bognor and Chichester to satisfy the insatiable demand for more housing across the country. There is no designated green belt along our coastal strip which is constrained by the South Downs National Park to the north and the sea to the south. Only green gaps prevent the coalescence of the different urban areas. These gaps are vital, David Johnson argued, for a whole number of different reasons not least our physical well-being.
CPRE works to protect, promote and enhance our towns and countryside to make them better places to live in, work and enjoy, and to ensure that the countryside is protected for now and for future generations. To these ends, the Sussex Branch is challenging housing need numbers, and the whole notion of what is actually affordable housing. It endeavors to work with local authorities on how we can all make development work without jeopardizing what we hold dear: access to greenery!

He also discussed the impact of our changing weather on the local environment and in this context touched not only on the Medmerry managed realignment scheme but also on the need to cut car journeys by 20 percent. Controversially, he asked why we are discussing new roads for Chichester? Plans for the A27, he suggested, need to be re-examined in the light of climate change exacerbated by petrol and diesel-driven internal combustion engines.

We must also build sensitively on brown field sites before we start driving earth-moving equipment onto green fields. Interestingly, he moved on to discuss the growing lack of public confidence in local authorities’ ability to implement a planning framework now generally regarded as faulty in the light of climate change. De-growth, he argued, was what was required now not more growth.

A Chichester branch of CPRE Sussex has been established recently and details of how to join can be found on their website at The purpose of CPRE Sussex is to shape the future of this county in a positive way. It is keen, David Johnson said, to be both a town and country organization and it is indeed in all our interests that they take forward these ambitions and continue to campaign on the environmental impact of development across this region.

Visit to Selsey Lifeboat

Caroline Bullen reports on the day members of The Chichester Society visited the new Selsey onshore Lifeboat Station on 26th June 2019.

As everyone assembled outside the station, the weather conditions were much more favourable than the previous visit in rain and high winds shortly before the old station was demolished, in 2016.

The visit was scheduled for 11am, but upon arrival we were told that the all-weather Shannon class lifeboat named ‘Denise and Eric’ had been launched for a training exercise.
So it was decided to have the indoor presentation until the boat returned. News then suddenly came through that the lifeboat was in fact on it’s way back, so everyone returned to the launch area. As it happened, this was a great opportunity to see ‘Denise and Eric’ being beached on to the shingle, ready to be skilfully manoeuvred by the impressive recovery system team. A great photo opportunity!

‘Denise and Eric’ being beached on to the shingle




















The Launch Recovery System was initiated to haul the boat onto the tractor unit and return it to base. Mike Cole, the Station Education and Visits Officer then invited members back inside the station building to give a detailed account and presentation of the new Shannon AWL 13-20 and a D class inshore lifeboat (ILB D-827 ‘Flt Lt John Buckley RAF).
Joined by Colin, whose task is to ensure the boat gets safely ‘in and out’ of the sea, members then had the opportunity to ask questions.

Lifeboat being captured by recovery system
















Launched from the beach, the 18 tonne, ‘self righting’ Shannon lifeboat, performs better the faster it goes. Fuel is specially delivered to the station by a road tanker to fill the Shannon’s 5,000 litre fuel tank. Costing £2.2 million, the Shannon, whose engine is completely waterproof, does 2 nautical miles to one gallon of fuel.

Shock absorbing seats further protect the 6 crew from impact when pounding through the waves. Of the 34 at the station, 32 are volunteers. A mechanic is on site and daily and monthly checks are made as well as an annual review. At one time, all volunteers were fishermen, today however, they number only 4.

The 37 tonne, tractor Launch Recovery System, ‘Miss Eileen Beryl Phillips,’ costing £1.5 million is designed and manufactured at Clayton Engineering in Knighton, Powys, Wales. Designed for the Shannon class lifeboats, it revolutionises the way lives are saved at sea. It can tow boats up steep, shingle beaches and can be driven straight into big surf and safely launch the boat in up to 2.4m of water. In the event of a breakdown with an incoming tide, the water-tight tractor can be completely submerged in depths up to 9 m before being retrieved once the tide is receded in complete working order.

Tractor Launch Recovery System, ‘Miss Eileen Beryl Phillips’












Once recovered from the beach, bow first, a unique turntable cradle rotates the Shannon 180 degrees ready for her next launch. Larger windows and CCTV give volunteer tractor drivers better visibility. A hydraulic system means that the height of the whole rig can be reduced to fit inside the boathouses. The reduced time of launching with such an impressive system, certainly makes a difference.


Safely back home




















It is far from those days back in 1861 when it all began with a double-banked lifeboat, 35 feet long and using 12 oars which was transported from Chichester. The boat, costing £180 was presented to the institution by members of the Society of Friends.

Members were interested in seeing old photographs of the encroachment of the sea and its impact upon the position of the station over time.

With it’s 155 year history, the Crew have been presented with 10 awards for gallantry. Their dedication and bravery in saving lives is phenomenal and in the words of Mike Cole, they are all one big ‘happy family.’

Visit over, members made their way over to a pre-booked lunch at the Lifeboat Inn – an opportunity to chat and reflect upon on a noteworthy charity who provides a 24 hour lifeboat search and rescue service to save lives at sea.

(Pictures provided by Anna Bloomfield)

Tour of the West Dean Fruit Garden

Fourteen members of the Chichester Society enjoyed a tasting tour of the West Dean Fruit garden on 21 September, led by David Wilson who works there as a volunteer with the apples.

David explaining West Dean's apple collection
David explaining West Dean’s apple collection

David also added the history of some of the varieties; Granny Smith, who was a Sussex woman from Rye, though she raised her apple in Australia after emigrating; the oldest recorded Sussex variety, Golden Pippin from Parham Park, dating from 1629; Red Devil, so sensitive to sunlight that you can stencil your initials on it; Margil, originally grown at the Palace of Versailles; and Howgate Wonder from the Isle of Wight which for many years held the recordof the world’s heaviest apple, over 4lb!

At the end of the tour, the party confessed to being ‘appled out’!

Enjoyable wine tasting at Hennings

Society member Caroline Hutchings reports on an enjoyable evening.

Some of the best regional wines from Northern Italy, were savoured by members of the Chichester Society at Hennings Wine Tasting in North street on Thursday 28th July.

Hannah describing the wines
Hannah describing the wines

The evening commenced with Hennings team member Hannah giving an introduction before going on to describe our 9 wine tastings, accompanied by bread, olives/oil, cheese and Parma ham.

First on the list was Nani Rizzi Valdobbiadene Millesimato DOCG 2014, a sparkling wine with fine bubbles from Veneto. The Glera (prosecco) grape has been grown for hundreds of years.

Girlan Aime Gewurztraminer 2015 is a new wine from Alto Adige – a boundary between Austria and Italy and grown high up in the mountains. The grapes are protected from the cold wind by the Alps to the north and benefits from the Mediterranean climate to the south. The dry, sandy, mineral rich soil combines with the high temperature fluctuation between night and day, creating a fantastic aromatic Gewürz with a subtle spice.

Alex from Hennings pouring the wines
Alex from Hennings pouring the wines

Soave Pieropan La Rocca 2014 from Veneto – a rich wine grown just below Verona
The Pieropan family have produced wines in Soave since the 1860’s. 2014 was one of the trickiest vintages seen since 1984 with its mild, wet winter when pests and pathogens flourished.

Torricella Chardonnay 2013 – a pale, straw colour wine from Tuscany. The nose has a concentration of white fruit scents, citrus notes and aromatic herbs. It has a good balance between freshness and minerality. 80% Chardonnay and 20% Sauvignon Blanc.


Comparing notes
Posing questions
Posing questions

Mystery Wine – this turned out to be a juicy, sparkling red Lambrusco grape. Most unusual, but personally, not to my taste (or others)!

Dolcetto D’Alba Cascina Morassino 2014 – a Dolcetto grape from Piedmont. ( lovely Dolcetto – translated as ‘little sweet one’). A delicious, full juicy red with a lovely redcurrant flavour.

Deciding which they prefer

Fletcher X 13 – another Piedmont wine of power and elegance. Good, unfiltered wine, also suitable for vegans.

Barolo Essenze Terre Da Vino 2011 – grown in the south facing hills of Piedmont and keeps for 10 -15 years. Aroma of rose, berry spice and tilled earth.

Araldica Moscato Passito Palazzina 2013 37.5cl – our last wine of the evening from Piedmont. The grapes are dried for 45 days before fermentation losing  40% of weight during the dehydration. Rich and intense with a honey flavour but balanced with a crisp, fresh acidity. A wonderful dessert wine and a great one to end on!

Society Chairman Richard Childs giving thanks
Society Chairman Richard Childs giving thanks

All the wines were able to be purchased or ordered, with a discount applied on the evening.
In all, a great, informative evening, enjoying fascinating wines and socialising with other group members. Would love to try other regions – perhaps it could be an annual event?

(Photos courtesy of Caroline Hutchings and Bob Wiggins)