Chichester and Surrounding Villages. Spending a day in the City of Chichester is like immersing yourself in a 3D history book! The historic yet contemporary City has something to offer everyone.
If you’re up bright and early, take a leisurely walk along the City Walls which surround the City and date back to Roman times. Grab breakfast in one of the many independent cafes in the town, before heading to the Novium Museum. The museum is built over the remains of a vast Roman bath house, which can be seen from the ground floor. From the lookout platform on the top floor of the museum, you’ll spot Chichester Cathedral and its huge spire. Head there after the museum, it’s free to visit and will reveal a treasure trove of historical and artistic artefacts.
Wandering back into the centre of town, you’ll notice that the Roman influence is also reflected in the main street pattern So leading to some people calling Chichester a ‘hot cross bun’ City (from the Market Cross you’ll see why). Standing here, you’ll also notice the retail delights on offer in the City, and you’ll soon see why it’s a shopper’s paradise. Take a couple of hours out of your schedule to explore the array of independent and high street brands on offer, or kick back and relax in one of the many bars and restaurants.
A trip to the City wouldn’t be complete without an afternoon at the internationally recognised Pallant House Gallery, an outstanding gallery of contemporary art. Follow this with an evening meal at one of the many restaurants. If you’re staying for the evening, head to the nationally important Chichester Festival Theatre for some of the finest theatre around.
Explore the past, present and future of the universe and the magic of the night sky, in warmth and comfort, together with live expert commentary delivered by professional astronomers led by John Mason MBE. John has been actively involved in astronomy and space science for almost 50 years is currently Education Officer and Principal Lecturer at the South Downs Planetarium in Chichester.
Chichester Harbour is a large natural harbour to the south west of the city of Chichester on the Solent. It is one of four natural harbours in that area of the coastline, the others being Portsmouth Harbour, Langstone Harbour and Pagham Harbour. The harbour and surrounding land is managed by Chichester Harbour Conservancy. It is one of the few remaining undeveloped coastal areas in Southern England and remains relatively wild. Its wide expanses and intricate creeks are at the same time a major wildlife haven and among some of Britain’s most popular boating waters.
The massive stretch of tidal flats and saltings are of outstanding ecological significance. Very large populations of wildfowl and waders use the mudflats feeding on the rich plant life and the huge populations of intertidal invertebrates. More than 7,500 Brent geese overwinter on the intertidal mud-land and adjacent farmland and around 55,000 birds reside in or visit the Harbour throughout the year.
The harbourside villages are: West Wittering, West Itchenor, Birdham, Dell Quay, Fishbourne, Bosham, Chidham, Prinsted, Thorney Island, Emsworth, Langstone and Northney. The harbour lowlands contain high quality arable farmland. Boatyards, marinas and commercial fishing are important elements of the local economy.
This is one of the south coast’s most popular sailing waters with as many as 12,500 craft regularly using the harbour, with competitive racing taking place among the 14 sailing clubs of the Chichester Harbour Federation.
A favourite haunt for artists and photographers, this picturesque village offers something to suit all tastes; those with a sense of history, artists, photographers, walkers, cyclists, sailors and weekenders all love the place. Visit the Quay and the Church, browse through the many artisan shops in Bosham Walk or just relax and enjoy this very special place.
Bosham has been inhabited since Roman times, and is close to the famous palace at Fishbourne. Several important Roman buildings have been found in northern Bosham around Broadbridge including a possible temple, a small theatre and a mosaic. The Bosham Head, part of the largest Roman statue from Britain, was found nearby.
Tradition holds that Emperor Vespasian maintained a residence in Bosham, although there is no evidence of this. There are also said to be remains of a building popularly thought to be a villa belonging to Vespasian, at the Stone Wall in the parish. The possible Roman harbour here was part of the natural harbours between Portsmouth and Chichester known as Magnus Portus and its position, as latitude and longitude, was plotted as part of Ptolemy’s Geography.
Bede mentions Bosham in his book The Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation, speaking of Wilfrid’s visit here in 681 when he encountered a Celtic monk, Dicul, and five disciples in a small monastery. The village is one of only five places that appear on the map attached to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle of around this time.
In 850, the original village church was built possibly on the site of a Roman building, and in the tenth century was replaced with Holy Trinity Church, situated beside Bosham Quay, that still serves as the local place of worship. There is a tradition that a daughter of Canute the Great drowned in a nearby mill stream and was buried here, although there seems to be little evidence for this. In 1865 a coffin containing a child’s skeleton was discovered, buried in the nave in front of what is now the chancel of Holy Trinity Church. This was thought to be Canute’s daughter.
There is also a tradition that Canute had a palace in the village, perhaps where the Manor House now stands, or possibly at the harbour’s edge. Legend has it that Bosham was the site at which he commanded the waves to “go back”, so as to demonstrate to his overly deferential courtiers the limits of a King’s powers.
There is also a legend that around this time Bosham Church was plundered by Danish pirates, who stole the tenor bell. As the pirate ship sailed away, the remaining church bells were rung. The tenor bell miraculously joined in, destroying the ship. The bell is still said to ring beneath the waters whenever the other bells are rung!
Bosham is mentioned by name in the Bayeux Tapestry, referring to the 1064 meeting of Harold and Edward the Confessor on the way to meet William of Normandy to discuss who would succeed Edward to the throne. Harold’s strong association with Bosham and the recent discovery of a Anglo-Saxon grave in the church has led some historians to speculate that King Harold was buried here following his death at the Battle of Hastings, rather than Waltham Abbey as is often reported. The speculation began in 1954, when the nave was re-paved, and the body of King Canute’s reputed daughter was re-examined. It was discovered that the body of a richly dressed man was buried beside the child’s. A request to exhume the grave in Bosham church was refused by the Diocese of Chichester in December 2004, the Chancellor ruling that the chances of establishing the identity of the body as that of Harold Godwinson were too slim to justify disturbing a burial place.
Explore this first-century home and outstanding archaeological site. Get hands-on at exciting events and marvel at the largest collection of early Roman mosaic floors in Britain. Discovered in 1960, the North Wing of this remarkable building is an important attraction for anyone interested in learning more about Roman life, art and architecture.
Dating back to the beginning of the Roman occupation of Britain, the Roman Palace offers visitors of all ages a unique experience. Among the remarkable remains of the North Wing, lie over twenty mosaics including the spectacular Cupid on a Dolphin. Visitors can also view the under floor heating system, and corridors from the elevated walkways. An introductory film shows how the Palace may have looked 2,000 years ago and free guided tours are available every day.
The extensive grounds of the Palace offer visitors the opportunity to stroll around the formal Roman garden carefully replanted to its original plan, featuring box hedging and staked espalier fruit trees. Step beyond the archaeology into the plant display area, displaying herbs and vegetables of the period, including those used in cooking, medicines and dyeing. Find out more by venturing into the Roman Garden Museum; a delightful experience for gardeners of all ages.
The Museum Gallery displays a wide range of Roman objects found during excavations on the site. These include beautiful jewellery and personal items and a sculptured marble head that is believed to be a rare image of the Emperor Nero, as a child.
To visit Chichester and surrounding villages by coach contact Holt Services