Category Archives: Buildings

A structure with a roof and walls

Chichester Cathedral Roof Restoration – update

Cathy Clark, Communications and PR coordinator at Chichester Cathedral,  provides an update on progress with this five-year project

As we reported in the Society’s September 2019 Newsletter, a major project to restore and re-cover the Cathedral’s roofs is underway: the failing copper roof installed after World War Two was allowing rainwater to penetrate the roof vault, damaging the medieval timber structure, masonry and ceiling plasterwork. The project to replace the copper with more traditional lead will last five years and cost £5.8 million.

The work has been split into three phases: Quire, Transepts and Nave. Last November, the second phase, started in March 2019 was completed: the extensive scaffolding was removed, revealing the new lead roof covering the Transepts and Lantern. This part of the project has also included masonry works to repair nineteenth century stones on the Lantern. Decorative stone pillars and stone blocks that face the salty south-westerly coastal wind had become badly eroded and have now been restored.

A just reward

Last summer also saw double recognition for the repair work at the 21st annual Sussex Heritage Awards run by the Sussex Heritage Trust. Lead worker John Hill, along with his sons Lewis and Dale, were winners in the prestigious Building Crafts Award section for the re-covering of the Quire roof. In addition, the Cathedral received Highly Commended status in the Ecclesiastical Award category for the Quire roof restoration. This additionally celebrates the vital work of carpenters John Maddison and Constantin Nistok who are working to repair any damaged timbers that support the new lead covering.

When is completion expected?

The remaining green copper roof covering the Nave is the final and largest phase of the restoration. The scaffolding required is even more complex than before and will take around five months to build.

As this roofing project proceeds we can compare the new-laid lead roof panels over the Lady Chapel (at right) with the existing copper roof over the Nave – the next stage in this five year programme (Photo Bob Wiggins)













Throughout the roof project, work has been carefully planned to minimise disruption to the peregrine falcons who return each spring to breed on the spire: as a result they successfully raised seven chicks in 2018 and 2019. Work has now been deliberately delayed in order to safeguard these protected birds of prey. Work will therefore commence on the Nave roof this summer to complete the project once any peregrine chicks have fledged. Meanwhile Chichester Cathedral Trust is still actively fundraising to raise the funds for this vital project.

£1.7million is still needed – if readers would like to make a donation please contact Ali George, Head of Fundraising at the Cathedral on 01243 812480 or email

This article appears in the March 2020 issue of the Society’s Newsletter. Access to its full content* will not be available online till June, so if you want to read this informative issue before then go here to join the Society. 

*Its content includes articles on the Chichester Harbour, St Mary’s Hospital, Selsey’s Lifeboat Station and the arrival of Vietnamese Boat People in Chichester.

Pevsner’s West Sussex Guide has a Makeover

Editor Elizabeth Williamson on challenges facing her team
to update a 54 year old classic

Chichester Society members have probably consulted, or even own, a copy of The Buildings of England: Sussex, by Ian Nairn and Nikolaus Pevsner, first published in 1965. It covers the historic county, treating the post-1888 East and West Sussex as two separate sections in a single volume. Nikolaus Pevsner’s East Sussex was revised by the late Nicholas Antram and published as Sussex: East in 2013. At last the West Sussex volume is complete and is now available in bookshops.

Nikolaus Pevsner, joint author with Ian Nairn for the original guide to West Sussex Photo: Yale University Press
What’s new?

What can you expect to find that’s new and what has been preserved from the original Sussex? The foundation is Ian Nairn’s West Sussex section, with some interventions by Pevsner, and the swathe of Pevsner’s East Sussex consigned to West Sussex in 1974. It has taken three authors to bring it all up-to-date. The team grew as work progressed. Tim Hudson took on Arundel and Chichester (apart from the Cathedral and Close, revised by John Crook), Midhurst and Petworth, places south of a line from Southbourne to Eartham, all but one of Lutyens’ houses, and the Charterhouse in Cowfold. Jeremy Musson has worked on the remainder of Chichester District, that is, eastwards to Loxwood and Bury. Other significant contributors were Bernard Worssam and David Rudling for specialist introductions to the county’s geology and archaeology. David also checked and updated all archaeology entries and wrote new ones including Roman Chichester and Chichester’s City Walls. ‘Pevsner guides’ would be an impossible task without the help of dozens of experts on particular localities and subjects, many of whose names you will recognise in the Acknowledgements – where we also thank those who kindly invited us into houses, churches and public buildings.

Spotting stylistic contrast

Should the reader detect differences in style and content in the easterly parishes, that is at least partly due to the distinctive approaches of the original authors. Pevsner regretted that Nairn ‘… found that he could no longer bear to write the detailed descriptions which are essential’ once he had completed West Sussex, acknowledging that ‘Mr Nairn has a greater sensibility to landscape and townscape than I have, and he writes better than I could ever hope to write. On the other hand, those who want something a little more cataloguey … may find my descriptions more to their liking.’ A balance has been struck: the original authors’ intentions and words have been preserved where appropriate but often fresh research and more time to investigate have required fresh beginnings or almost complete overhaul.

Marriott Lodge was designed by Ahrend, Burton &
Koralek as an extension to the Theological College at
3 Westgate. It is now part of a residential care home Photo: James O Davies

Probably most important to Society members is the new information about Chichester and its immediate surroundings. At the centre is John Crook’s account of the Cathedral, prefaced by a splendid new introduction clearly explaining the building phases. There is new information too about the Close, including rare survivals like the C13 roof of St Faith’s chapel in St Faith’s House. In the town, Tim Hudson has cast a critical eye over the most recent additions: Pallant House Gallery, with a ‘lumpish S front’, and the Novium, ‘unrelated to its surroundings’, do not come off unscathed, though there is praise for the ‘appropriate’ additions to the Festival Theatre. Some older modern buildings are reappraised. One is Marriott Lodge, which, at the time of the first edition, was planned as an extension to the Theological College at No. 3 Westgate. New discoveries have been made about older buildings presented here as ‘Perambulations’. Within a short walk along West Street one can find out about such diverse subjects as: the 21st century sculpture of St Richard; the Prebendal School’s medieval fabric; Edes House and its seventeenth-century interior; the original purpose of former St Peter’s Church; and the architect of the Oliver Whitby School (until recently House of Fraser).

The Gridshell at Singleton’s Weald & Downland Museum, completed 2002
by Edward Cullinan & Associates with Buro Happold as engineers Photo: James O Davies
The coast

Useful attention is given to historical development. Along the coast for example, Selsey has been separated from the ancient Church Norton and given its due as a seaside resort; there are some special early C20 buildings including large Arts-and-Crafts houses, notably The Bill House by Baillie Scott. On Thorney Island the RAF Officers’ Mess takes its place alongside the medieval church and rectory.

New themes

A huge range of information is to be found throughout this volume from church monuments, medieval wall paintings and war memorials to the architects of Victorian churches and schools; architectural histories of great houses such as Cowdray, Petworth and West Dean; and the local character of cottages and village halls. New for this edition are discussions of challenging modern designs, particularly those for the Goodwood and Wakehurst estates and at the Weald and Downland Museum, with its collection of vernacular buildings. This West Sussex volume of The Buildings of England series will guide you to the best of the county’s architecture. And the colour photography is fantastic!

The authors
Elizabeth Williamson is former editor of the Pevsner Architectural Guides. Tim Hudson is a former editor of the Victoria County History for Sussex. Jeremy Musson is an architectural historian, consultant, and author.

An earlier article by Tim Hudson published during the planning phase  for the update is available here
The Buildings of England: West Sussex. Yale University Press. The book jacket features Boxgrove Priory on the front cover (right) and Monkton House Image: Yale University Press













(This article originally appeared in the June 2019 issue of the Society’s Newsletter)

Rousillon Park housing development wins an award

Hard on the heels of the Government’s announcement of the establishment, amid much controversy, of its ‘Building Better. Building Beautiful Commission’ came the news that the Housing Project of the Year under the British Construction Industry Awards for 2018 had gone to Rousillon Park in Chichester, the site of the former military barracks.














The project was commissioned by Homes England and designed by architect Ben Pentreath and adopts a traditional street layout that responds to the historic street patterns within Chichester. A narrow, gridded street pattern links a series of green public spaces. Built on the site of the town’s military barracks, brick predominates but with the occasional use of the local grey sandstone and Sussex flint.

The architectural language adopts the scale, proportion and materials of traditional town houses, but is designed to feel intentionally contemporary in its restraint, with more modern detailing of elements such as doors, windows and railings. William Smalley Architects also worked on the design of houses.

Construction commenced in 2012 and the site was completed in 2018.

(Thanks to Stuart Tappin for referencing the item in the Ancient Monuments Society Newsletter and to Ben Pentreath for information from their website)

Inns, Pubs and Hotels – the latest Heritage Trail announced

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. The naturalist, W.H.Hudson, was horrified to find ‘drink-degraded wretches’ sprawling on the street corners in sight of the cathedral spire – a sight that appalled him.

Sadly, the city has seen many of its hostelries close in recent years and this trail includes some of these. The Swan, The Royal Arms, and The Fleece, are three prominent inns that have closed in East Street alone. Fortunately, many others still survive, including, The Fountain, The Hole-in-the Wall, and The Old Cross. 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. Download it here.

For details of other trails and where to obtain the leaflets see here.

Hole in the Wall (stop 6 on the Trail)

ChiSoc submits CFT renewal to Civic Voice Design Awards

ChiSoc has submitted the Chichester Festival Theatre renovation scheme to the Civic Voice 2016 design awards competition.

To be successful, projects have to make a significant contribution to the quality of life in our villages, towns and cities and the Society believes that the outcome of the Theatre’s RENEW project would fully justify the award.


CFT - Exterior1CFT - FoyerCFT - Theatre Cafe


Chichester Law Courts – Closure Proposals

Our Response to The Government’s Proposals to Close the Law Courts Building and Move its Services Out to Worthing / Portsmouth / Horsham … or points even further afield !

Question 1: Do you agree with the proposals? What overall comments would you like to make on the proposals?

We do not agree with the proposals insofar as they affect Chichester. There will be costs involved in running a court system and, although it is reasonable to look for economies, these should be secondary to the provision of accurate and prompt justice.

Delays of more than a year are already common in Chichester, and trying to stuff the caseload into busy courts at Brighton/Hove or Portsmouth is not going to help.

Question 2. Will the proposals for the provision of court and tribunal services have a direct impact on you? If yes, please provide further details.

The complete closure of Chichester’s courts would undoubtedly affect such of our members as may be required to attend.

Question 3: Are there other particular impacts of the proposals that HM Courts & Tribunals Service should take into account when making a decision? Please provide details.

The percentage utilisation of the court buildings is a crude measure. The lack of use could well relate to lack of judges, or delays preventing witnesses from attending, thus creating the need for adjournments. The latter factor will be exacerbated by the extra travelling that is envisaged in the proposals.

In any case, a figure of 78% occupancy is quoted locally for the crown court, and it is difficult to see how such a court could be considered under-utilised.

In respect of the Magistrates’ Court, we consider that local knowledge is an important factor in determining cases. Given also that evidence is often short and simple, forcing witnesses to travel for an extra hour each way means that witnesses will be sharply more reluctant to help in the administration of justice.

Question 4. Our assessment of the likely impacts and supporting analysis is set out in the Impact Assessment accompanying this consultation. Do you have any comments on the evidence used or conclusions reached? Please provide any additional evidence that you believe could be helpful.

The additional travel times are optimistic, to say the least. The car journey to Portsmouth or Brighton/Hove takes longer than the 30 or 50 minutes quoted, except well outside the rush hour – from personal experience, the Brighton journey can take over an hour and a quarter. Improvements to congestion blackspots are still years away. Nor is any allowance is made for finding a parking space.

For train journeys, no allowance is made for getting to the station and buying a ticket. Unless court timings are adjusted to suit trains, there may be additional waiting time – services from Chichester are half-hourly but from intermediate stations hourly. This is not London with trains every 5 minutes!

In any case, thought should be given to the problems of those attending from outlying districts. It may well take 30 or 40 minutes to get from Bognor or Selsey to Chichester. Add a further hour to that and double for the return journey, and there is a real disincentive to attend court. Moreover, the more complex a journey, the more things can go wrong, with consequent delays.

Question 5. Are there alternatives to travelling to a physical building that would be a benefit to some users? These could include using technology to engage remotely or the use of other, civic or public buildings for hearings as demand requires.


As the County Court deals more with civil cases, it may be possible to hold its cases in non-specialist buildings.

Video links for evidence should be regarded as unsatisfactory, as the limitations of video prevent the magistrates, judge or jury, as the case may be, from assessing the veracity of a witness. It is not only what the witness (or defendant) says, but body language has an important part to play. It has always been a principle of British courts that justice should be seen to be done, and this is eroded when video evidence is used extensively.

The hoped-for economies may not be as great as proposed, given that an officer of the court would have to be sent out to establish the reliability of each link.

Question 6: Please provide any additional comments that you have.

It seems perverse to be closing Chichester’s courts when under government-sponsored proposals the population of the area is planned to increase by some 25% in the next 15 years.

As Chichester has been a major legal centre for centuries, expertise has accumulated in the city. Under closure proposals, this will either be written off – or the lawyers will move to Brighton or Portsmouth, thus multiplying the problems of access for inhabitants of Chichester.