Chichester Cathedral

The Saxon Cathedral was out on the marshy Selsey peninsula… which even today is a bit isolated. Which makes it excellent for bird watching of course.

When the Normans arrived this just wasn’t good enough. Cathedrals need to be in centres of population and Chichester, a city founded by the Romans, was the choice. Earl Roger de Montgomery granted the South West corner of the city for a new Norman Cathedral. The earliest building was consecrated in 1108 and the nave is still dominated by the Romanesque architecture built with Quarr Stone from the Isle of Wight.

This is a fascinating building. In addition to a really interesting history, the Cathedral, as seen today, is an Art Gallery. The influence of Bishop Bell (1929 – 58) and Dean Walter Hussey (1955 – 78) resulted in modern Art commissions including work by Graham Sutherland, Hans Feibusch, John Piper and Marc Chaghall. Musical connections include Gustav Holst, Leonard Bernstein and William Walton.

As a Cathedral, it’s not the oldest, or the longest or the highest. It’s only ‘claim to fame’ is that the spire makes this the only Cathedral that can be seen off the coast. I was birdwatching at Pagham spit over the Christmas period and, even in poor visibility, there was the spire. Of course this isn’t the ‘original’. That collapsed in 1861 and Sir George Gilbert Scott, the Gothic Revivalist architect, was brought in to replace it true to the original…. only taller!

This is just on my doorstep, so expect this wonderful place to crop up a lot in future.

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