I spent my Easter holidays walking the South Downs Way, and my day off from walking mostly in Chichester, home of a certain Mr Bush – but we have already established that I’m not at all above running around after fictional characters.
It’s a very Georgian city, Chichester but it has also been a very Roman city (I like that the OS map still labels it ‘Noviomagus’, just in case any lost Romans come looking) and a very medieval city – when Bush and his sisters lived there everything must have been either newly built or in a state of constant rebuilding.
The market cross is part of the medieval city, of course, built around 1500.
The Dolphin hotel just behind it, however, is very definitely imposing Georgian, rebuilt some time in the 18th century although the name is older.
The medieval Guildhall, originally part of a friary, was used as the town hall and courthouse until 1850.
St John’s chapel, in the south-eastern quarter, wasn’t built until 1815, but the plans for it must have been the talk of the more respectable inhabitants the last time Bush was home – the building was funded by the congregation, with a fee paid for each pew.
I was looking out for a suitable cottage, of course, but although there are plenty of fairly modest buildings, they’re almost all terraced – not that this necessarily rules out a garden, because a Georgian map shows the houses still with their long medieval yards running back behind them.
I did like this one just inside the western walls, now the Old Cottage Indian Restaurant! But for four or five of them I think we’re looking for something more like the Dashwoods’ cottage (I’ve been reading Austen ever since I got home) – living rooms downstairs and bedrooms upstairs.
The museum was interesting, with a good display on local smuggling, but there was nothing very maritime until I looked up on my way down the stairs on the way out.
Also up above me was an admiral’s uniform, of the type that would have been worn by local hero George Murray, who served as Nelson’s Captain of the Fleet in the Mediterranean.
The cathedral is another famous medieval building, of course – not only a local landmark but a seamark, the only medieval cathedral in England whose spire can be seen from the sea.
It’s also the only medieval English cathedral with a separate freestanding bell tower, although this may be for practical reasons – subsidence had caused problems with the original building, and one of the towers had collapsed in 1635, with the spire following in 1861 and rebuilt five years later.
There are a few naval memorials inside, 20th century as well as Napoleonic.
George Murray’s is one of them, of course, with a depiction of the battle of Copenhagen.
The other Georgian memorials are from an earlier war – the Battle of Providien in the Indian Ocean in 1781, which was presumably part of the American Revolutionary War. Two memorials, to Captain James Alms of the Monmouth, who survived it, and his son, Lieutenant George Alms of the Superb, who didn’t.