Culture & Heritage
2000 years of history
There are over 2000 years of history to discover in our corner of West Sussex. In Chichester city itself explore the remaining evidence of the Roman settlement of Noviomagus Reginorum; walk the almost intact city walls which encircled the town; see the remains of the Roman baths complex at the city’s Novium Museum, and just outside the city you can walk in Roman footsteps, following sections of Stane Street, which connected Chichester with London. Chichester’s Roman roots are evident in the layout of the city itself, with four main shopping streets which radiate from the Market Cross. The ‘Cogidubnus Stone’ recording the erection of a temple to Minerva by the Guild of Smiths can be seen on the outside of the Assembly Rooms in North Street, Chichester having been excavated in 1723.
Chichester’s stunning Cathedral with its iconic spire has been at the centre of the city since the 11th Century. The influence of Norman, Medieval, Georgian settlements can also be seen in Chichester and beyond; remains of a Norman motte and the 13th Century Guildhall in Priory Park. You can uncover more stories of the city at The Novium Museum which also hosts a series of changing exhibitions. Join a guided tour of the city where local knowledge will reveal more of the city’s past.
Transport yourself back in time at the Weald & Downland Living Museum. Among its collection of restored rural homes and buildings, you’ll get a feel for what life in the past might really have been like, plus regular themed events showcase rural trades and traditions.
Impressive Stately Homes
Magnificent Petworth House boasts an extraordinary collection of art and sculpture, stunning state rooms and extensive grounds and parklands making it a great day out all year round. Peek at life ‘below stairs’ in the Servants’ Quarters – can you imagine the historic kitchens in action as they prepare flamboyant meals for important guests?
The contrast between the life of elegance and grandeur ‘upstairs’ and those living below stairs is plain to see at Uppark House & Gardens, where you’ll find sumptuous Georgian interiors, fine art and furniture and one of the country’s best examples of an 18th Century dolls’ house as well as the historic kitchens and underground tunnels offering a glimpse of life in service here. The Edwardian mansion at Stansted Park on the West Sussex/Hampshire border offers a real sense of a bygone era, with state rooms furnished as if the 10th Earl of Bessborough were still at home, while the extensive servants’ quarters are filled with historic artefacts. The grounds of Stansted Park host an impressive calendar of events each year, from garden shows and live music (the annual Proms Spectacular is not to be missed) and theatre.
In the market town of Midhurst at the heart of the South Downs National Park, sit the impressive ruins of Cowdray House – one of the most important tudor houses of its time, visited by Elizabeth I and Henry VIII. Cowdray Estate hosts tours of the ruins (among other events), revealing some of the house’s fascinating past.
Amazing Art & Culture
The impressive array of art and culture to be found here on the south coast makes Chichester and the surrounding areas a must-visit for art lovers and theatre enthusiasts. Chichester is home to the Festival Theatre, one of the country’s most respected regional theatres known for the quality of its productions. Whether you’re a fan of musicals, enjoy edge-of-your-seat dramas or just love live entertainment, the huge variety of productions offers something for everyone.
Sussex is increasingly making a name for itself as a destination for exploring amazing art. Described by The Guardian as ‘second only to the Tate for modern British art’, Pallant House Gallery explores new perspectives on British art from 1900 onwards, hosting a programme of exhibitions which win rave reviews from the press, as well as its permanent collection. In Petworth, Newlands House Gallery opened its doors in 2020 with an inaugural exhibition featuring the works of Helmut Newton and has gone on to host further impressive shows including the likes of Julian Opie and Lee Miller.
Chichester, Petworth, Midhurst, Arundel and the surrounding areas boast a selection of fantastic galleries and art shops to suit all budgets. Fine Art lovers should book a tour of Goodwood House to see the splendour of the state rooms and the extraordinary collection of porcelain, furniture, tapestries and paintings.