Glimpse history through old images of Chichester, West Sussex, England.
The Cathedral city of Chichester in West Sussex boasts beautiful historic homes and ancient streets. The city centre in particular has been captured many times on film throughout the past century.
Royal West Sussex Hospital 1929
In 1929, Princess Mary came to open the new nurses extension to the Royal West Sussex Hospital. It’s quite blurry footage, but it’s interesting to see the cars, outfits and uniforms of the day. At the end, a lot of smartly dressed women and children are seen watching from the other side of the road.
A public dispensary was established in cottages in 1784. Then in 1825, these were replaced with a two storey hospital building, known as the West Sussex, East Hampshire and Chichester General Infirmary and Dispensary.
The 1st Matron, Mrs Rogers, received a wisteria tree from China, and planted it on the hospital facade sometime between 1825 and 1828. It still survives today and is claimed to be the oldest specimen of its kind in England.
A third storey was added to the Georgian building in the late 19th century.
In 1913 a grant of King George V renamed the Infirmary to The Royal West Sussex Hospital.
In 1972 the Royal West Sussex Hospital closed following development of St. Richard’s Hospital. The beautiful Georgian building was retained and transformed into domestic housing units.
ROYAL: Princess Mary visits hospital in Chichester (1929) – British Pathé on YouTube
The Norman cathedral church was built towards the close of the 11th century. Then its spire was added in about 1500. The House of the Dean is where we find a rather severe Arthur Duncan-Jones.
Then we see the 12th century hospital of St Mary’s. In the reign of Queen Elizabeth I this was an Almshouse.
After a panoramic view of the city, focus turns to the belltower at the end of the main street.
Next, there’s an old boy’s cricket match taking place at Priory Park. A crowd sits next to Greyfriar’s Chapel to watch.
Finally, we see a beautiful thatched cottage on one of the rural lanes out of the city.
Chichester 1942 – British Pathé on YouTube
A Drive Through Chichester (1953)
Black and white footage from 1953 shows an old fashioned open top vehicle being driven through the streets of Chichester.
The adults and children in the car, all wearing costumes, hold up a sign reading “We are taking Haiwatha to Granada in our Jalopy”.
The footage includes lots of pedestrians, bicyclists, delivery vehicles and people waiting at bus stops. Nice clear footage of the street scenes.
A Drive Through Chichester England 1953 – belfast jack on YouTube
Arundel & Chichester 1965
An old cine film from the 1960s records a drive through various streets including Franklin Place and St Pauls Road in Chichester.
1965 Drive Through Arundel & Chichester – smitm10 on YouTube
1960s Chichester Festival Theatre
Crowds of people stand about the outside of Chichester Festival Theatre in the 1960s.
Chichester Festival Theatre, 1960s – Film 96669 – HuntleyFilmArchives on YouTube
1960s Chichester Festival Theatre Scenery Dock
A 30 second clip shows the theatre scenery changes at the festival theatre in the 1960s.
Chichester Fesitval Thearte: Life with no scene dock, 1960s – Heritage CFT on YouTube
Cathedral Renovations (1968)
Construction of Chichester Cathedral began in 1076, under the supervision of Stigand of Selsey.
It was not long after the Norman Conquest. Stigand of Selsey previously served as chaplain in the court of William the Conqueror, before his appointment in 1070 to replace the deposed Æthelric II, Bishop of Selsey.
The South Saxon see was transferred to Chichester in 1075, and in 1082 Stigand became the first Bishop of Chichester as the Bishoprick of Selsey simultaneously ended.
Stigand upset the Archbishop of Canterbury with his reorganisation of parishes. He also drew displeasure from King William I for initially refusing to travel to Battle Abbey to consecrate its new abbott. However, he remained Bishop of Chichester until his death in August 1087.
Chichester Cathedral was finally completed and consecrated in 1108, by Bishop Ralph Luffa.
Bishop Ralph Luffa was Bishop of Chichester from 1091 until his death on 14 December 1123. Contemporaries praised him for his piety, undertaking regular preaching tours while avoiding all appearances of extorting donations, and his diligence in seeking worthy candidates for the priesthood.
Maintaining the vast and ancient Chichester Cathedral has been an ongoing task for hundreds of years.
Normal cathedrals require ongoing maintenance and expenditure. Sometimes, big restorations are needed too, such as when the central spire fell down in 1861. In 1968, teams of builders in ‘Cathedral Works’ hardhats (and often not!) set about restoring the structure and fabric of Chichester Cathedral, which suffered from subsidence. The foundations of the cathedral were built on spongy clay rather than the solid rock a couple of feet lower.
We see the stonemasons at work in their workshop. “Now there’s so much work to do, the young apprentices here will be kept busy for the rest of their lives”.
Then we see Harold Shepherd, the cathedral’s glass artist. The ancient glass panels were damaged both by subsidence movement, and the post-reformation zeal of those who thought religious imagery was corrupting and idolatrous. Harold Shepherd’s work was to restore the panels back to their medieval imagery as far as possible.
Finally, we are told that all this work is costing 5 shillings every 4 minutes for the next ten years.
Sanctuary Saved (1968) – British Pathé on YouTube
Gala Day 1972
The 1973 Gala had a large procession with a great turn out to see it.
A large number of people and several locations appear in this home movie.
Chichester Gala Day – Ian Welch on YouTube
Queen Elizabeth II 1986
On Maundy Thursday in 1986 Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visited Chichester Cathedral. It was the location of the 1986 Maundy Money tradition.
Three weeks later the Queen celebrated her 60th birthday.
The Queen visits Chichester. Maundy Thursday (1986) – Colonel Buchan on YouTube
Sainsbury Fire 1993
On 16 Dec 1993, Christmas shoppers fled the multi million pound supermarket in three minutes as a storage room fire quickly spread.
Over a hundred firefighters battled the blaze.
Chichester Sainsbury Fire (1993) – Colonel Buchan on YouTube
Chischester’s experience of 1990s flooding is captured in this 23 minute film showing a wide range of locations and interviews with local people.
Chichester Flooding (1993-1994) – Paul Archer on YouTube
Tony Blair Visit 2000
TV news footage of Tony Blair’s visit to the cathedral city in 2000 shows that six years on from the floods, the flood defences were still not in place.
Footage includes an interview with local resident Chris Sherborne.
The commentary ends with “The Prime Minister left as quickly as he arrived.”
Tony Blair’s Chichester Flood Visit (2000) – Ken Lloyd on YouTube