These guide notes were written by Rosie Slough, the Regional Group Leader for Sussex, to support two guided walks led by Peter FitzGerald, in October 2020. They are offered here so that others may be able to follow the same route. 


Welcome to Chichester, built on a site occupied by the Romans in the first century AD and enclosed inside town walls by them in the third century to make a sort of circle. The town plan is simple. From the central Market Cross, 4 roads radiate out to the 4 gates in the walls, ie. North, South, East and West.

This tour starts on the North side of Chichester Railway Station. Walking up South Street we start at

1. Canon Gate
2 . Canon Lane
3. Cathedral Cloisters
4. Cathedral exterior and bell tower, St. Richard.
5. Chichester Market Cross
6. St. Andrew’s, Oxmarket
7. St. Mary’s Hospital
8. St. Martins
9. Council House and Assembly Rooms
10. St. Olaf’s
11. Greyfriars and Priory Park
12. Town Wall
13. Bishop’s Palace
14. Bishop’s Palace Gardens


Sloe Fair (pieds poudrés) permission granted for fair by Henry 1st 1107. Originally at Canon Gate.
St. Faith the Virgin 6th October. Fair lasted 8 days till feast of St. Edward. Above Canon Gate was ecclesiastical Court of Pie Powder to try offences such as drunkenness occurring during the fair. Fair later moved outside Northgate (on site of present car park) to a field containing a sloe tree and was ever after called the Sloe fair and still going strong. Mainly run by itinerant merchants, hence pieds poudrés means dusty feet. Bishop owned the land, received the tolls.

Chapel of St. Faith the Virgin originally on this site, changed to dwelling in Elizabethan times.
St. Faith was a Gallo Roman virgin martyred by Romans in Aquitaine. Tortured by a red hot brazier until she died refusing to make pagan sacrifice 290 AD. By the 12th Century she had become a popular cult. Abbey of St. Foy, Conques.

Enclose burial ground called Paradise. Many interesting features. Not monastic, functional.

Beware steps down into Cathedral. Contains pilgrim shrine of St. Richard of Chichester. Spire fell in 1861 while workmen at lunch.

Modern for his time, strict, reforming, great gardener

Written by Lorna Still, Volunteer at The Novium Museum
Caption - Statue of St Richard outside Chichester Cathedral. Reproduced with the permission of Chichester Cathedral.
June 16th is Sussex Day, a day for celebrating the rich culture and heritage of Sussex. This date was chosen because it is also the day when St Richard of Chichester's body was moved to a shrine behind the high altar in the Cathedral in 1276.
Richard was born in around 1197 in Wych (now Droitwich) near Worcester. His parents were landowning farmers, but they died before Richard's older brother came of age. Mismanagement by the guardians meant Richard had to leave his studies to help his brother restore the family fortune. He succeeded so well that his brother offered the estate to him, but Richard wanted to return to Oxford and was a distinguished scholar, moving on to study in Paris and Bologna. He returned to Oxford as Chancellor of the University in 1235. His tutor and friend at Oxford, the saintly Edmund of Abingdon, had been appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, and he asked the able Richard to become his Chancellor. Edmund was involved in disputes with both the Pope and King Henry III and eventually went into voluntary exile in France, accompanied by Richard, who was with him when he died. Richard actively supported his friend's canonisation, which occurred six years later. Richard went to Orleans to study and was ordained a priest.
The new Archbishop of Canterbury was Boniface of Savoy. He was more worldly than Edmund, but also a reformer, and he asked Richard to return as his Chancellor. When the Bishop of Chichester died in 1244, the Canons elected Robert Passelew, a favourite of Henry III, to succeed him. However, many Bishops objected, considering him unsuitable, and Boniface recommended Richard, who was duly elected instead. King Henry was furious and refused to accept the appointment, forbidding anyone to help him. The Pope supported Richard's claim and consecrated him at Lyons, but Henry would not restore the episcopal estates to him until the Pope threatened him with excommunication two years later.

During that time, Richard was penniless and could not enter his Cathedral. He was able to preach and travel on foot round Sussex, because some areas were under the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Canterbury. A priest named Simon of Tarring (now part of Worthing) took him in, and it is said Richard cultivated figs in the garden there.

When Henry restored the estates of the bishopric, Richard continued to live frugally. He never ate meat, would not eat off silver and wore a hair shirt under his clothes. He also set about reforming the behaviour of his clergy, while strongly defending their rights. He overruled Henry III on many occasions, for example, defrocking a priest who had seduced a nun, even though Henry had petitioned in his favour.

Richard instituted yearly offerings from the parishes to pay for the upkeep of the Cathedral, which were later known as 'St Richard's Pence'. There had been two fires in the twelfth century and, although the Cathedral had been reconsecrated in 1199, rebuilding and enlargement continued in Richard's time. He began work on the chapels in the north and south aisles, and he dedicated the first chapel to his friend St Edmund.

In 1253, the Pope asked Richard to go on a preaching tour to rekindle enthusiasm for the Crusades. He travelled along the coast and on into Kent, but it took a severe toll on his health. He dedicated a chapel to St Edmund in a cemetery for the poor in Dover, but collapsed the next morning. He died at a hospice called Maison Dieu on April 3rd 1253, aged about 56. His friends, Simon of Tarring and biographer Friar Ralph Bocking, were by his side. Richard's heart was buried in the chapel he had just dedicated to St Edmund, and his body was taken to Chichester, followed by a huge crowd of mourners, rich and poor alike. He was buried in St Edmund's chapel in the Cathedral, as he had wished.

Built at end of fourteenth century and is in three stages. Chichester is the only survivor of these towers that were common in mediaeval times. They mitigated the danger to the stability of central towers which might be caused if heavy bells were rung in them. They are at some distance from the cathedral to prevent subsidence.

Erected by Bishop Storey in 1500 who left £25 pa for its upkeep. Repaired during reign of Elizabeth 1st, then in reign of Charles 11 when bust of Charles 1st replaced that of Bishop Storey. 1724 clock added. Served as covered market space for poor traders, also centre for hired labour. Originally stood in larger square which has since been built over in places.

A former Anglican church, the building has existed since the 13th century and was used as a church from then until the mid 20th century, when wartime damage forced it to close. It is now an arts centre, having been converted in 1976 and extended 13 years later.  Historic England has listed the building at Grade II* for its architectural and historic importance.

First founded in another part of town, then built on site vacated by Franciscans in 1269. Only surviving example in England of this type of building.
The current building is a fine medieval tithe-barn type structure, that consists of a chapel and a series of small self-contained flatlets for poor widows of the city deemed to be worthy of charitable shelter.

Originally there was a church-like layout, beds in aisles, no cubicles; chapel in chancel, separated from hospital section by a screen. Existing nave is 79 feet East to West and 45 ft across, used to be longer in Middle Ages with beds in aisles. Sedilia and piscine remain. Remodelled in time of Elizabeth l to provide rooms for almswomen and also four massive chimneys erected in 17th century. The running of the almshouses has not always been as it should. Following the fall of the city to Parliamentary forces during the English Civil War, puritan reformers sought to ensure that the funds of the hospital were directed towards the residents rather than into the pockets of the warden and the trustees. Similar concerns were still being raised over one hundred years later. Today there are no such qualms and the charity is one of the oldest and most respected in the country.

In 1868, pioneering folklorist, Charlotte Latham, referred to St. Mary’s in her seminal work on the superstitions she still found ‘lingering’ in West Sussex. One superstition she recorded was the belief that after a death the front door of the deceased’s home must remain open until their burial, otherwise another death was sure follow.

A short time ago a death occurred in the St. Mary’s Almshouses at Chichester; and on the morning of the funeral, as soon as the body had been carried out, the niece of the deceased locked the door of the apartment, and had hardly done so when she heard the inmates of the Almshouses thumping and rattling it to force in open. On finding all their efforts useless, one of them exclaimed, “Hang that good-for-nothing woman! Her locking this door before the old girl is buried will bring death among us pretty soon again.”

Small nave, chancel and north aisle. Spire with two bells. Rebuilt in 1802 and demolished in 1906. Mural painting prob. of St. Richard. advowson kings from 1260 to 1460 then dean, chapter. Walls on site said to be those of church. Some bits and pieces have gone to St. Olaf’s

18th century. Neptune and Minerva stone, found in four pieces on site when Council House being built.

ST OLAVE’S North Street.

Oldest building in Chichester, pre-dates the Cathedral. Contains Roman building material (tiles etc) found on site when it was being erected.
Poss. erected by Godwin Earl of Wessex who died 3 April 1053. Or poss. by Swedish merchants or friend of St. Olaf, King of Norway, who was forced to flee to Russia by the English King Canute. Olaf died 1030 trying to reclaim Norway. Due to various miracles, he quickly became a saint. In Sainthood, Olaf was instrumental in encouraging Christianity amongst the Danes and Norsemen. The original church was existing nave and small chancel. Chancel rebuilt and altered 1300 – 1400. Restored in 1851 when chancel arch constructed. Sadly ancient wall paintings of Our Lady and saints destroyed. Blocked up 11th century doorway survives towards West end on South side of building. This church used to belong to the Dean and Chapter of Cathedral.
Now a book shop, it is still consecrated. Has one Eucharist a year on 29th July, St. Olave’s Day.

LEPROSY – outside the city walls
WESTHAMPNETT ROAD 1. 972 No 1 Leper's Cottage (Formerly listed as No 85 Leper's Cottage, St Pancras) SU 8705 14/363 5.7.50. II 2. Late C18 cottage built on the site of St James' Hospital for lepers (founded in the reign of Henry I) destroyed by fire in 1781. The north wall incorporates part of the old structure. Plastered front. Thatched roof. Small casement windows with pointed segmental heads and Gothic divisions. A tablet on the cottage records its history.

The Grey Friars came to UK in 1224, First lived on site of future St. Mary’s Hospital, then 1269 Henry III gave them land near the old castle. Always had a good reputation but all the same Henry VIII had it destroyed except for the chancel which is all that remains of the friary today. Now a museum.

It is 1800 years since the walls and gates were first built around the Roman town of Noviomagus Reginorum. Today they are the most intact circuit of Roman town defences in Southern England. The Four 4 gates - East, West, South, and North were demolished at the end of eighteenth century to allow more traffic in and out of the City.

Follow the wall from Priory Park, on past Westgate, then cut across Bishops Palace Gardens.


Original palace rebuilt after Chichester city fire 1187. Contains a mediaeval chapel.
Principally, The Palace is the residence of the Bishop of Chichester, currently The Right Reverend  Dr Martin Warner. His office and staff are also based here. The Bishop’s chaplain, currently The Reverend CanonStephenFerns(also CanonResidentiary and Treasurer of
 Chichester Cathedral),[4] also has his office at The Palace. Since the appointment of The Venerable Luke Irvine-Capel as Archdeacon of Chichester in 2019, The Palace has served as the residence and office of the Archdeacon and his family, following the relocation of the office of the Archdeacon of Chichester from the Diocesan Church House in Hove back to Chichester.[5]

Beautiful gardens, area now owned by the city and is a public park. They date back to 1147-48 when the Cathedral was moved from Selsey to Chichester.