“It’s impossible to be rude about Chichester. For a city of its relatively small size, it’s well-rounded, nicely brought up. Every base is covered”.
To the south there is the Chichester Harbour Conservation Area and one of the UK’s few sandy beaches at West Wittering. To the north are the rolling hills of the South Downs and one of Britain’s only yew forests. It also punches well above its weight culturally, with a Chagall stained-glass window in the cathedral, film festivals and poetry slams, and the Festival theatre and Pallant House art gallery’s Hepworths and Hamiltons. Traffic on the A27 and house prices aside – a mighty big aside – this place has no dark side, unless it’s hidden deep in its repressed past. It is sunshine in bricks and mortar, which, for some, might be the most annoying thing in the universe.
The case against… Those looking for even a bit of edge should probably go to Portsmouth. There could be a touch fewer chains in town.
Well connected? Trains: to Southampton (52 to 58 minutes) and Portsmouth (23 to 37 minutes); and to Brighton (50 to 60 minutes); Gatwick Airport (one hour); and London (90 minutes). Driving: 15 minutes to the A3, 25 to Portsmouth, 50 to Southampton; 15 minutes to the sandy dunes at the Witterings, 10 minutes to be on the South Downs.
Schools Primaries: Jessie Younghusband, Parklands Community, Portfield, St Richard’s Catholic, Chichester Free and Fishbourne CofE are all “good”, says Ofsted, with St Anthony’s “outstanding”. Secondaries: St Anthony’s and Chichester Free are “good”, with Chichester High and Bishop Luffa CofE “outstanding”.
Hang out at… The wonderful, independent New Park cinema. There is room for improvement in its eating scene. Most of the pulls round here are out of town (the Earl of March and the Royal Oak in the Lavants, Cassons in Tangmere or the Richmond Arms in West Ashling).
Where to buy The entire centre is a conservation area, and it shows. You won’t want for idyllic Georgian townhouses or 17th-century cottages tucked down lanes; but keep an eye out for some great postwar property, too. The historic roads out of town, such as Westgate, are also studded with beauties. For suburbans, north is most popular, edging the Downs, like Summersdale and Fishbourne. It gets very pricey and chichi on Chichester Harbour. Large detacheds and townhouses, £550,000-£2m. Detacheds and smaller townhouses, £300,000-£550,000. Semis, £275,000-£575,000. Terraces and cottages, £250,000-£550,000. Flats, £150,000-£750,000. Rentals: a one-bedroom flat, £660-£820pcm; a three-bedroom house, £950-£1,250pcm.
Bargain of the week Three-bedroom 1960s/70s terrace, £244,950 with leaders.co.uk.
From the streets
Laurence Knight “The Saturday market is scruffy and a bit naff – perfect. Not enough good pubs.”
Rachael Tout “The small shops in Draper’s Yard are the best.”
I love living in Chichester, I have lived all over the world from London to Paris to Japan Las Vegas and San Francisco, I can get to London to see a show on the train or into Portsmouth for shopping. We have all the leading supermarkets for shopping so plenty of choice. A wonderful theatre and 2 cinemas. The best hospital for miles, close to the beach if needed, you can find areas that are busy or the canal basin for a peaceful drink. Everything I need in life! ❤️
There’s no mention of the fabulous Weald & Downland Open Air Museum which is a huge site littered with rescued and rebuild buildings from Tudor to Victorian times. A wonderful place to stroll and dog friendly too. Fascinating if you like your history and a favourite with kids who can run around and explore the buildings.
Every child in southern England will have been on a school trip here at some point. As someone who first visited in the early 70s I still like to have a look around every few years.
Home to TV series like Tudor Monestary Farm and The Repair Shop.
The centre is undoubtedly attractive and the city is surrounded be a mixture of attractive villages as well as a growing series of modern housing estates.
Less appealing is the sometimes unreliable electricity supply and the streets’ tendency to flood during heavy rainfall.
The genteel image is also tarnished by the regular assortment of up to 4 homeless people sharing alcohol and arguing outside South Street’s Tesco Express on most days.
… And you’ll be pushed to find a reliable phone and data signal across much of the city centre for some providers.
As others have commented, traffic is abysmal.
Live music is an ongoing project. The Backroom put on monthly Indie nights at the Duke and Rye, Acute sounds put quality covers and originals into many pubs. Chichester Music Academy showcases young talent regularly.
The big problem is lack of a nightclub, with 6000 uni students and 20,000 at the college.
Positives: Beautiful area. Loads going on culturally: fantastic theatre, independent cinema and gallery. Some great people trying to make it a better place to live.
Negatives: Car-cowed council won’t make any moves to break the traffic deadlock: as a flat cathedral city it should be totally bike-friendly and is actually anything but. The high street is dominated by chains.
Don’t understand the negativity about Draper’s Yard – it is fantastic for locals.
Snobbish, banal, middle class tedium bordered by the same chain stores as every other high street but with pretty wooden signs. No nightlife after 11, or cultural life before that. Unless you consider dodging valiumed up stock brokers wives queueing their BMWs for the town car park, or running the gauntlet of mobility scooters of elderly retirees in North Street is all you need, then look elsewhere.
No cultural life? Chichester Festival Theatre and New Park Cinema to name but two cultural venues . Snobbish? Not in my experience. Tedious never. A lively mind will always find something interesting to do.
That’s insulting to people like myself who have lived near Chichester my entire life. We live in a council house a few miles from Chichester. Have done for thirty plus years, having been brought up in a village nearby. We definitely aren’t snobs, not entitled, not are it friends & we are hopefully not boring. Not everyone wants loud late nights. There is a plethora of things to do in & around Chichester. Being so utterly rude about a place & it’s people seems unnecessary. Yes there are a few snobs but just don’t go where they do & you’ll find Chichester a beautiful city where history, nearby South downs & friendly welcoming people make for a truly lovely city. Yes, I wish the houses weren’t so expensive as that would mean my children could afford to live nearer. The reason it has a high proportion of retirees is because on the whole it’s definitely a safe, beautiful city. It’s my home & I love it.
Snobbish? Maybe you would like to look in a mirror? If that is the way that people want to live their lives and be comfortable, then please explain what is wrong with that, and what gives you the right to judge them on it?
I live in Worthing and completely agree. Chichester is a fantastic city and we visit it and the surrounding villages regularly.
However, the comment to which you are replying is clearly written by a moron who thinks he is really edgy and West Sussex will remain a wonderful place is his sort just stay in London.
No dark side? Have you not seen the traffic levels and the ghastly urban race track dual carriageway that surrounds much of the city centre?
“this place has no dark side” – except being the very heart of the Anglican church child abuse scandal: https://www.iicsa.org.uk/publications/investigation/anglican-chichester-peter-ball/executive-summary
Also the only diocese to vote against women bishops.
Plenty of annoying upper middle class students (often ex private school) who couldn’t get into better universities.
And parts of it are rough
The independent New Park Road Cinema is just starting its annual International Film Festival !
Festival Home Page (pre)
Good restaurant? Field & Fork right next to Priory Park. Fantastic food, some of the best waiting staff you’ll ever meet, and don’t miss the incredibly good value three course £12 lunch menu.
No one has mentioned the harbour yet. Good for walks and birdwatching, great to explore in a canoe.
Lovely to cycle around too, with a little break to ride the Itchenor ferry.
Perfect for retired religious persons seeking a more contemplative life. Very good pie shop.
No mention of the walls which make for a pleasant walk around and take in the Bishop’s garden. There’s a café always close at hand as you walk along the walls. There’s also the paved cycle/walking path along the course of the old railway from Chichester to Midhurst passing by Lavant and West Dean.
The theatre and festivals provide better evening entertainment than anything in Portsmouth unless as the article says you want something loud and edgy.
I think these articles only mention things picked up from a cursory skate over the internet by someone in London.
It just took me an hour to drive around the Chichester bypass on the way to our Devon holiday! I love West Wittering beach tho and it’s dog Friendly if you head left once parked up.
Not so lovely if you live down here and have to commute between WW and Chi regular intervals during the day ….
I love that the article says “If you want edgy, try Portsmouth” – translate this as Southsea (where I live – cheaper than Chichester) – I used to get the train to Chichester (from Fratton it’s 20 mins) to do all the charity shops. Chichester is posh – better quality stuff donated. It’s a bit ‘where retired people (with cash) look for property’.
Also, just up the road is Goodwood race course, plus the home of the festival of speed, then also the Weald and Downland open air museum (about 10 mins drive north of Chichester), where in fact they film The Repair Shop series, so (if you go there at the moment during the week) you may glimpse some of the team at the barn.
That’s weekdays. They go home at the weekend.
I have known Chichester since childhood. Certainly an attractive town, West Wittering for a splendid beach, Fishbourne for the Roman Palace, (Bignor Roman Villa also worth a visit), Stane St. (Old Roman Rd). Bosham is a very attractive village 2 mins by train from Chichester and of course Goodwood which gives you Horse racing, the heritage Motor Racing and is also a small airfield. The South Downs and the sea all on your doorstep – in many ways quintesentially English a la West Sussex. If sailing is your thing then Chichester is the place for you. Recommended pub – Crown and Anchor at Dell Quay.
My own thoughts are a very nice place to visit and perhaps spend a few days. The drive down down through Petworth or Midhurst is rather fun as is the drive back.
There’s a statue of John Keats at the end of East Street but without his name, for some reason. I didn’t recognize him – maybe I’m not Chi enough. Good variety of large stores – Tesco, Waitrose, M & S, Sainsbury’s, and John Lewis etc. The cathedral cafe does good nosh. And the Bishop’s Palace gardens are a hidden jewel in the heart of the city – easy to miss completely.
Lovely city, located in an area of great natural beauty – the South Downs immediately to the north and Chichester Harbour immediately to the south.
However it needs a serious policy aimed at reducing car traffic and simultaneously encouraging people to cycle much more than they do (currently very close to zero).
Very optimistic to say 15 minutes drive to West Wittering. The traffic in any good weather is horrendous. Very nice place to visit however, though definitely not to live in.
You could cycle.
And hold the traffic up contributing to the many delays…,
Head for Oving, just ten minutes away and you will find The Gribble Inn. Best pub for miles around with its own brewery, decent garden and excellent restaurant. A real thatched country gem.
My other half is one of the chefs here, he will be pleased to see this x
I don’t live in Chichester or even want to live there but I find most of the derogatory comments pretty far from reality. Chichester by-pass is busy during holiday and rush hours but otherwise is a fast 70mph road. During busy periods I usually go through the city centre as at least the traffic moves and you can always stop for a while. Parking is low cost and plentiful, the shopping good with plenty of small specialists and many ages, restaurants and bistros. I cannot comment on the pub scene. Outside of the centre there are many industrial estates with just about every national chain. The arts scene is lively, architecture interesting. If only the sea was closer I’d seriously consider Chichester as it is Not Brighton where I lived for 30 years until Londoners ruined it.
Car parking is not cheap or plentiful, unless you are prepared for a walk . We are also getting it spoilt by Londoners
It’s getting far to expensive for locals now ….