The historic city of Chichester is a hub of activity, culture and history. It was voted by the Sunday Times in 2020 as one of the best places to live in the South East, with something for everyone from students and young professionals to families and downsizers. As the British Summer threatens to provide us with some sunshine (in between the rain clouds), we felt it was a good time to give you a little round up of some of the things that Chichester has to offer for its residents. Below are some of our favourites…
For the children (and grown-ups!)
The Weald and Downland Museum provide a hands-on historical experience for adults and children alike. Set in a beautiful 40acre site just outside of the city, you can explore rescued rural buildings and learn about the people and trades of times gone by, from the Anglo Saxons to the Edwardians. It also plays host to the BBCs ‘Repair Shop’. The Museum also takes pride in its small working farm that allows it to preserve rare breeds, but also historic skills and methods for working the land. The museum also offers evening courses, degrees or continuing professional development courses, as well as a number of cultural activities over the year to include outdoor theatre performances, as well as events set up to celebrate lost trades and other historic life weekends.
For the naturalists
Why not reside in the grounds of Chichester Cathedral and catch a glimpse of their famous Peregrine falcons, who reside in a crenelated turret at the base of the spire. Chichester Harbour also provides a haven for a diverse variety of birds and animals whether alone or on one of their guided tours.
For the sporty and active
Those who love being in or on the water will have great fun in this part of West Sussex. With the various waters in and around Chichester including coastal, lake and canal, friends and families can enjoy various activities such as paddle boarding, kayaking, sailing, kite surfing and more. Popular locations include East or West Wittering, Itchenor, Bosham, Chichester Canal and Chichester Harbour. Meanwhile, Chichester Watersports have a brilliant inflatable aqua park on their lake which they have just expanded. They also offer kayaking, paddle boarding, open water swimming, water-skiing and wake boarding – either on the UKs longest wakeboard cable or on a boat tow, including one fitted with a bar for learners.
Fishing is also a rather popular sport, whether out at sea with companies offering a complete service of catch and cook fishing trips, or on Chichester’s canal where there are good stocks of roach, rudd, perch, crucian, bream, pike and eels to find.
Hiking and trail running clubs encourage beginners and the more experienced explorers of the hills the opportunity to make the most of the stunning South Downs surrounding Chichester. Numerous bike shops make cycling an accessible option for rental or purchase, with a huge number of communities offering something for all interests, levels and capabilities. Coffee trucks and cafes are also beginning to crop up on popular trails and footpaths making re-fuels more and more fun!
For the foodies
Outdoorsy and foodie? There are a huge variety of foraging courses available in the countryside surrounding Chichester from group walks and private sessions, to courses focussing on cooking over fire or fermenting your foraged finds to enjoy later in the year. Coastal foraging is incredibly popular, and while situated on the coast you should make the most of all it has to offer – seaweeds, sea vegetables, herbs and spices a like!
You are never far from a good bite to eat in Chichester and its surrounding coastline either, whether it is strolling through the popular Drapers Yard Market devouring locally made foods from all over the world, or stepping over the threshold of a huge variety of pubs, restaurants and cafes.
The British summer also calls for long afternoons sat on terraces and pretty gardens enjoying our new found talent for growing vines. Chichester is home to a number of vineyards. For example, Ashling Park Estate thrives on the loamy soil and sheltered position of the South Downs, boasting a restaurant which prides itself on locally sourced, seasonal produce. Meanwhile Tinwood Estate offers a superb afternoon tea following a vineyard tour, and of course some delicious English sparkling wine to taste.
For the petrol heads
Goodwood Festival of Speed and the Goodwood Revival draw petrol heads and summer party lovers alike from all over the country. A fabulous day out for all the family, the events are well established and exceptionally well put together.
For the historians and cultural enthusiasts
Seen from miles around, Chichester Cathedral is known for its traumatic past suffering from two fires in the 12th Century, a tower collapse in 1861 and an attack from Cromwell’s forces. Despite never being a monastery, covered walkways have been built around the old burial ground which is now laid to lawn, replicating the cloisters of other cathedrals with monastic histories. It’s a popular spot for locals to visit for a walk, an event, a concert or as a place of worship. If you’re lucky, you’ll hear The Cathedral Choir as they sing at about 300 occasions each year!
The Cathedral Art Challenge runs in August for children to learn creative new skills from an award winning artist and innovative art teacher. While they explore their creativity, adults can explore theirs too. Head over to the Pallant House Gallery to discover 20th Century British Art or the Ox Market Gallery, situated in a deconsecrated church. Soak up the sun exploring their sculpture courtyard or explore one of three galleries housing affordable art for sale.
Chichester Festival Theatre was originally funded by the local community, giving it a special place within the local’s hearts. This Summer the theatre plays home to South Pacific, receiving rave reviews. Performances for children continue to happen in the parkland neighbouring the theatre. Here they also run annual outdoor concert weekends and theatre weekends. Nearby, Priory Park plays host to the next series of outdoor events.
Famous too for its Roman history, the City is the site of a Roman encampment or fortified settlement. These historical roots are celebrated at the fascinating Fishbourne Roman Palace and Gardens, the largest Roman home in Britain – making Chichester quite the hub for outdoor ‘living’ museums.