Nine things that make loving Chichester so easy

After years of working and living in Chichester I find myself singing its praises when speaking to anyone not from our great city.
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Sure, Horsham’s nice, and Portsmouth’s great for a night out, but nowhere in Sussex or Hampshire can hold a candle to Chichester. After five years of working in the city and living here on and off I would put Chichester high on the list of the best places to live in the country.

Here are my reasons:

The coast: Being able to take an easy cycle to some of the most sought-after beach spots in the country puts Chichester above most cities you could live in. Whether its an early morning walk in the brisk winter air or a refreshing swim on balmy afternoons – it really can’t be overstated how lucky we are to have such an incredibly beautiful natural amenity so nearby, especially Bosham residents, many of whom *literally* have the beach on their doorsteps.

Priory Park. Picture by Derek MartinPriory Park. Picture by Derek Martin
Priory Park. Picture by Derek Martin
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The Southdowns: Another short trip can take you to another of Chichester’s natural wonders. Within ten minutes of stepping out the door, you are able to soak up breath-taking views of the area from the Trundle, and, on a clear day, you can watch the sunrise over Goodwood Racecourse and see it coat Chichester Cathedral, Spinnaker Tower and the white domes of Butlin’s in bright golden light.

The ancient city centre: With the Norman cathedral, 500-year-old Market Cross, and Fishbourne Roman Palace – it is of little wonder the city is of such huge interest to historians and archaeologists. One would struggle to walk a few dozen yards in the city centre without coming across some ornate fragment of a bygone era. Stunning Georgian architecture is a familiar sight, as well as the ancient city wall. But, to me, what tops it all off are the quirkier parts of the city’s history: Can you find the hole in the wall in The Hole in the Wall? The 1000-year-old bookshop in North Street? Or where was the artist and poet William Blake tried for witchcraft? They say everyday is a school day and in Chichester is really is – if Indiana Jones was your teacher.

Pubs, pubs, pubs: Whether you’re looking for a quiet fireside reading spot, or Jaegerbombs and karaoke, you’ll find what you’re looking for in one of the city’s fantastic pubs. To The Park Tavern for a post-work pint, across from the clack of wood on wood as cricketers play in Priory Park a stones throw away – the quintessential British pub experience. Or over to The Eastgate with its jukebox, dartboard and the pool table tucked away at the back, past the beer garden. Later hours and frequent band appearances makes for a lively night. There are too many great pubs to mention, they deserve their own article!

Independent businesses: These are what make Chichester city centre so unique. Each of the city’s homegrown independent businesses give the centre so much character and flavour – and Chichester is bursting with them. All you have to do is walk into Draper’s Yard in The Hornet to see. Electric Lady Tattoo studio is just a couple of doors down, then The Hornet Alehouse is across the road, as well the florists Hedge Rose. Numerous, one-off independents all within a tiny radius and East Street, North Street and South Street are no different.

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Surrounding villages: Part of the allure of Chichester is also down to its friendly neighbours. Nothing beats a scenic cycle from the Market Cross up to Lavant along Centurion Way, or down to Bosham Hoe for an afternoon dip by pedalling through Fishbourne. While I’m sure many will agree, the A27 is ghastly and, while its ugliness does surround us, there are innumerable routes to our beautiful neighbours without having to spend any more than a second on the road.

Pallant House Gallery, Oxmarket Gallery: You can enjoy one of the most exciting collections of contemporary art in the country on your lunch break. Reasonable prices at Pallant House Gallery make this so easy. The current cost of living crisis, and huge rent bills means this isn’t always possible for thousands of people in Chichester but the Pallant still offers a free exhibition which never fails to impress. Or, better still, find the Oxmarket Gallery tucked away down a small twitten off East Street and enjoy its ever-changing rota of modern art. Totally free and always full of interesting pieces.

Priory Park: An easy Sunday activity that never ceases to impress is an afternoon in Priory Park. Lay out a picnic blanket for a game of cards and enjoy views of the cathedral spire, and hear the cheeping of budgies outside Fenwick’s café and the sound of children playing in the park as private airplanes fly overhead. Priory Park is an easy win for anyone looking to enjoy a relaxing afternoon in Chichester.

The people: When I first arrived in Chichester I was greeted with incredible hospitality that is unlike anywhere else I have lived. To this day I’m blown away by the friendly nature of a lot of the Cicestrians I’ve met and I continue to enjoy chatting to the people I meet when I’m out on jobs or spending my time in the city. When I first lived here, I knew no-one – but in no time at all the community opened up and showed me its heart. I have to say though, the readers are my favourite. Especially the ones that read all the way to the bottom.