A look at lost Sussex for the Festival of Chichester

Petworth-based author and artist David Johnston has studied West Sussex and its ways his entire life.

David Johnston
David Johnston

He distils his observations into a new exhibition for the Festival of Chichester, an exhibition which looks at the lost history of Sussex buildings.

What original features and traditions are buried in such crumbling relics?

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David has devoted months to researching some of the ancient ruins in the county – and delivers his findings in a new set of paintings. In the works, he shows their early architecture and their legends, brought to life by his brush.

The exhibition runs until Sunday, July 15, weekdays 10am-5.30pm; Saturdays and Sundays, 10am-4pm at The Midhurst Gallery, Grange Road, Midhurst, GU29 9LT (admission free; disabled access).

“Over the past year, I have done 20-odd paintings. There is the Chichester cross, the Goodwood Revival, St Anne’s Hill, Bramber church… I have always had a great passion for the old buildings and ancient houses.

“But with this I also wanted to show how these places once looked before they were ever changed or gone to ruin, so I have added things in. If you take the one of Chichester cross, you will see buildings around it that have long since been demolished, and I have also added a chap coming through with his horse and cart.

“And with Old Halnaker Mill, the mill on its own is a beautiful structure, but I have added for greater interest some people from the 1820s, 1830s, 1840s making hay in the fields.

“There are 20 pictures. Some of them go back two or three years, but the majority I have done in the last year. I was really wanting to do this exhibition for the Festival of Chichester.”