The Story Behind the Famous Chichester Cathedral

By: Keith McGregor

Between 1305 and 1337 the Bishop Langton installed the great stained glass window in the Southern transept of the cathedral. After a second blaze the original wooden ceiling of the cathedral was destroyed, and was replaced with a vaulted one.

The body of Richard de la Wyche (Saint Richard) lays in the cathedral, and a shrine dedicated to him was a place of pilgrimage until it was destroyed in 1538 during the first stages of the English Reformation.

The cathedrals magnificent fourteenth century spire collapsed abruptly on February 21st 1861, after being repaired by Sir Christopher Wren, and surviving a lightning strike in 1721. Fortunately no fatalities resulted. It is thought that this occurred because of the poor quality of stone the spire was crafted from. It was rebuilt four years later by Sir Gilbert Scott, a British architect, and reached the spectacular height of eighty two meters.

The nave of the cathedral itself is built on top of the remains of a Roman mosaic which, in Roman times, was used as a pavement. The fascinating piece can be viewed through a glass panel in the floor of the nave and is a popular attraction. Interestingly, among Leonard Bernstein's finest pieces, was 'Chichester Psalms', which was composed for the cathedral.

Today, the cathedral is an extremely popular visitor destination, and drives tourists to the city in their hundreds. The grassy cathedral grounds provide an excellent spot to picnic, and in summer it is rare for the grounds to be empty. It is still an active place of worship, and services are held regularly, a choir is also still assembled. The cathedral is the only one in the South that can be seen from the channel and, peculiarly, the only medieval cathedral in Britain with a separate bell tower.

The cathedral grounds are open to the public everyday of the week, and there are plenty of places to eat. There is a cafe in the cathedral and a garden to eat in, but the green at the front of the cathedral provides an adequate spot. The cathedral is in West street by the cross, and is almost impossible to miss. Its fascinating architecture and history are found interesting by everyone from children to great grandparents. Trips to the spire are even held occasionally!

If you are planning to stay in the local aera, then there is a fantastic range of accommodation in Chichester. Not much further out of the City is the Crouchers Country Hotel, which is only a short from the city centre. This early 1900s farmhouse which has been converted to house 18 luxury bedrooms in the outside coach house and barn makes it an extremely pleasant hotel in Chichester.

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