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Favorite Places in England: Chichester

The church I go to is called St. Richard’s of Chichester, and so on one of my trips to the UK I felt compelled to spend some time getting to know St. Richard, and his town.  Fortunately for me, it’s a nice place to visit, and I was also able to get some work done in the peace and quiet of my b&b.

And speaking of my b&b, this is what I want to say about it.  Have you ever played a roll playing video game like Oblivion, and t2012-07-14 01.33.27-1here are these little pubs that also serve as inns?  That’s what my spot, The Vestry, was like, which I thought was awesome.  It was on the floor above the pub, and you had to walk through like 7 hallways and random flights of stairs to get there, and it was really noisy since it was along the main street, but I also adored it for the fact that I felt like I was in Skyrim.  Plus it had a bathtub that I could practically swim in.  And it was an easy walk from the station.

So here are some fun facts about Chichester.  To start with, it was a main city during Roman times, and it played an important part in the Roman invasion since it had a port and then easy access on towards London.  There was an amphitheater from AD 80 which could hold 800 people.  The king of the local Celtic tribe, Cogidnubus, co-operated with the Romans rather than resist them. The Romans left him as a puppet king of S2012-07-13 09.21.30ussex. After the Romans had left the fort Codignubus decided to take it over and make it into a town. The Romans called Chichester Noviomagus, which means new market place.

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Chichester market cross

Roman Chichester boasted such amenities as central heating, public baths, and mosaic floors. There were carpenters, blacksmiths, bronze smiths, potters and leather workers.  The last Romans left in 407, and then several generations later the Saxons came.  Chichester is actualy named after a Saxon called Cissa.  Eventually we learn that Alfred the Great made Chichester one of his fortified burghs that he created throughout the country for defense against the Vikings.  Chichester also had a market and a mint, so it was an important spot.  They also had a charter for a fair every October, the Sloe Faire, which is still in existence.

St. Richard after whom my church was named was the Bishop in the 13th century.   He was a normal kind of bishop, had studied in France, but his shrine apparently was a tourist attraction because people were healed from visiting it.  The cathedral itself was begun in 1076.

After the Renaissance as the wool trade declined and Henry VIII dissolved the monastaries there (Cromwell himself ordered Richard’s shrine destroyed in 1538), Chichester lost some importance.  These days it boasts the Sloe fair, an orchestra, and other arts sorts of entertainments, and is a decent sized town with decent shopping and a lovely Waterstones (I’m obsessed with high street shopping).

There is a lot of Viking and Roman history if you have a car, and I could see making a nice vacation out of exploring all of that.  And as a nice getaway, The Vestry was a great place to stay (and the breakfast was wonderful).  The train ride is inexpensive and easy, and the Cathedral area itself is a lovely place for walking and meditating and thinking.