PipSpeak • Doing Chichester - a city guide
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For a little place there's a lot to do in and around Chichester. The cathedral is a big draw, as are the many and varied attractions of the surrounding countryside (some of which are covered here). Anyway, it's an excellent base from which to enjoy West Sussex, and there are plenty of fine pubs and restaurants to while away your evenings in too... click on the Top anywhere to return here.

Before you go   Getting around   Where to stay   Sightseeing   Places to eat/drink   Miscellaneous

  • Buses - an easy means of getting to Chichester from London is the National Express 027 service from Victoria Coach Station. Barring adverse traffic, the trip takes about 3 hours 40 minutes though and it's pretty infrequent. There is a more regular service that goes via Brighton but that takes more than 5 hours and involves changing coaches! In other words, what I'm trying to say is that getting to Chichester by coach can be done, and it's cheap... but it's very tiresome.
  • Trains - trains from London run regularly to Chichester from Victoria (direct) or Waterloo (change at Havant). Either way, the journey can take as little as an hour and a half, which seems like a good deal to me. Anyway, for all train timetable enquiries check out National Rail.
  • Taxis - if you've made your way to Chichester by public transport, taxis make a reasonably cheap way of getting around during your stay. Prices are much the same the between companies - expect to pay time and a half after midnight though. I used Starline Taxis (01243 531666) once with no problems.
  • Driving there - if you're driving, the RAC can help plan your route - you might also want to check the traffic. Be aware that parking isn't always easy (or cheap) here though.
  • Maps - a fully scalable map of the city is available here.
  • Going upmarket - there are a few fine hotels in the city area, notably the very central Ship Hotel in North Street - double rooms go for around 95, and there's also a four-poster room if you're feeling romantic. Also rated highly, similarly priced but slightly less central, is the superbly named Crouchers Bottom Country Hotel, which offers comfortable surroundings for a refined stay. For those of you who prefer to stay with a hotel chain, there's a Ramada Jarvis on the outskirts of town that has the added benefit of lovely indoor pool.
  • B&B and guesthouses - you'll find numerous B&Bs of various quality in around Chichester. A particularly good one is Litten House in St Pancras: central, cosy and reasonably priced; however, they only let rooms to non-smokers. Also worth a look is Richmond Close, confusingly in Hunter's Way. This is a smart guesthouse with a nice little garden, but again they are a non-smoking establishment! If you really must insist on poisoning yourself, I'd recommend Palm Tree Cottage on Fishbourne Road West as the pick of the B&Bs that allow smoking.
  • Hostels - I couldn't find any hostels in Chichester! The nearest I could find was the YMCA in Arundel which might catch your eye if you're on a tight budget. At least it's only a short jaunt from Chichester by road or rail.
  • Let someone else find a hotel for you - for more info, or for a wider choice of hotels, check out the RAC's excellent hotel finder.
  • The Cathedral - chances are this is one of the main (or only!) reason you've come to Chichester - the Cathedral is a fine structure, right in the middle of the city. Unusually, it comes in two pieces, with an old bell tower standing apart from the main cathedral building. The cloisters are also worth a look, if memory serves.
  • The Cross - at first glance you might think this is a bit of a misleading name since the structure itself seems pretty well rounded. However, a glance at your tourist map will give you some indication of how this structure got its name. A focal point for the city, and a fine photo opportunity to boot, The Cross stands at the intersection of Chichester's two main streets, which run North-South and East-West respectively. Anyway, I should point that there's nothing to do here, it's just a landmark building. But it is a good place to meet up, and you can't come to Chichester and not take a picture of it, okay?
  • Get civilised - tucked away down the quiet side street that is North Pallant, you'll find the Pallant House Gallery. This creaky little townhouse (admittedly currently undergoing a refurb and expansion) is home to works by Peter Blake, Lucian Freud, Henry Moore, Pablo Picasso, and more besides. There's also a very interesting display of work done by inmates of a local prison. Anyway, this gallery is certainly worth a look - and don't despair if you're only going there because your significant other wants to: it's a pretty small place and you can be in and out in a couple of hours. Oh yes, I should probably point out that the gallery doesn't open on Mondays.
  • Shop til you drop - the main shopping streets in Chichester are arranged in a cross shape, running North-South and East-West through the centre of town. Unsurprisingly, these streets are called North, South, East and West Streets respectively. Even at a modest pace it's easy to walk from one end of the cross to the far end of the diametrically opposing street in just 10 minutes, from which you can gather that Chichester isn't huge. However, it does have a satisfactory range of shops, including many high-street names - certainly enough to while away a few hours. If it's a rainy day and you're looking for somewhere to keep dry for a bit, try the Army & Navy department store opposite the Cathedral. The market is also worth a look - it takes place on Saturday (I think) and is held, unsurprisingly, in the Market Road car park.
  • The silver screen - now I don't usually mention cinemas in my guides - after all, every city's got one, right? Well, Chichester Cinema is a little different, and as far removed from the modern multiplex as you can get. Situated on the edge of New Park, the cinema itself looks a bit like a village hall, and has seating to match! There's a licensed bar on-site, which makes a change from a tub of popcorn and a film tie-in coke. More importantly though, there's an eclectic selection of films on offer: foreign language films are very popular, classics are shown on Sunday mornings, and kids' films occupy Saturday mornings. Of course, they also show conventional cinema releases too. There's only one screen, but they make up for this by having 4 or 5 shows most days. My advice would be to check out their what's on when you first arrive and pick a show that suits your tastes - it's a nostalgic experience!
  • Pretend you're in Gladiator - ten minutes drive from Chichester, west along the A259, you'll find Fishbourne Roman Palace and Gardens, home to Britain's largest collection of in-situ mosaics. The palace in question or, more accurately, the remains of the palace in question was once a vast and sumptuous Roman villa, probably the home of King Togidubnus. You can walk above huge mosaic floors on a suspended pathway (the one featuring dolphins makes for a good photograph if you've got a decent camera) whilst the optional audio commentary adds worthwhile detail about each of the rooms you see. Outside (for the villa has been covered in a draughty 1970's structure) you'll find a unique replanted Roman garden, which is nice for a stroll if nothing else. If, like me, you were fascinated by the Romans when you were a kid, this place is a must... plus the gift shop sells humourous Latin-phrase fridge magnets!
  • Get crafty - 3 miles west of Chichester is one of the oldest villages in Sussex, Bosham (pronounced Bozzum). Here you'll find the Bosham Walk Art and Crafts Centre, a collection of 19 little craft shops in one building. The great thing about this place is that you can usually find some of the craftsmen at work, as well as find unique gifts to buy. There's also a cosy tea room too which is very welcoming if, like me, you visit on a wet and windy day. Old Bosham village is worth a look too: the beautiful Saxon church stands next to a millstream and a National Trust-owned meadow, adjacent to a natural harbour where, according to legend, King Canute tried to halt the advancing tide! One more thing - try the ice-cream from the shop next to the craft centre - you won't regret it.
  • For castle and cathedral lovers - a short drive or train ride east of Chichester you'll find Arundel, home to the sort of picture-postcard castle tourists love. Careful during winter/Valentine's breaks though, as Arundel Castle is shut during Nov-Feb. The town itself is also worth exploring, for its picturesque buildings and (after an invigorating uphill walk) the Cathedral of Our Lady and Saint Philip Howard. I'm not going to say too much more about Arundel - after all, this is a Chichester guide - suffice to say that you should definitely visit, and that you'll probably want to take a stroll out onto the bridge near the Castle's Lower Lodge for the obligatory panoramic photo of the town, showing olde worlde buildings and castle turrets. Finally, be warned - Arundel knows it has a huge captive tourist audience, so tea-rooms are very expensive!
  • Ask - East St. One of the nicest places I ate at during my stay, Ask offers fine pizza and pasta in relaxed and airy surroundings. It's probably not a place you'd want to take your kids though. If you like your salads large and your pizzas thin but can't stand the idea of some dreadful Pizza Hut, Ask is ideal.
  • The Nag's Head - St Pancras. Not only is this a pleasant pub with friendly staff, the food is definitely worth a look. I'd have to recommend the very reasonably priced carvery which, as well as tasting great, is virtually an "all you can eat" affair. It's also only the shortest strolls from the cinema, so it makes a good choice for a pre-/post-film meal. Not only that, The Nags Head is unusual in that it has a large screen TV for sporting events in one part of the dining area so you can eat and watch footy at the same time! Non-sports fans needn't worry though, this area only makes up about a quarter (if that) of the total dining area.
  • Woody's - St Pancras. Just a couple of paces from The Nag's Head, Woody's lays claim to the title of oldest wine bar in Sussex; read into that what you will. The drinks are therefore a tiny bit more expensive but the atmosphere is more refined. There's also a more extensive menu on offer, so if you find you can't keep eating roast dinners next door every day, Woody's offers a sensible alternative.
  • Sadlers - East St. A wine bar and restaurant which advertises tapas as its main speciality. However, it seems they have a different theme most weeknights - when I was passing they were having a Jamaican night, with associated cuisine and reggae music. There are separate dining rooms away from the bar and, if the weather permits, there's also a secluded patio garden - ideal for warm summer evenings.
  • Café Rouge - Southgate. Admittedly this is just a basic outlet for the ubiquitous French brasserie chain; however, it gets a mention here on the basis that they offer a superb deal in conjunction with the aforementioned Chichester Cinema. Keep your cinema ticket stubs and present them to Café Rouge for a two-for-one main course offer any time between Monday and Friday after 4pm. A good deal for those on a budget then...
  • The Buttery at The Crypt - South St. In the shadow of the Cathedral, this tea-shop offers a good selection of light snacks, cream teas, and the like. You pay marginally over the odds for the environment and service, which plays on the age and historical significance of the building, but it's worth it. If you're just looking for a mid-afternoon cup of tea and a slice of cake, this would be my choice.
  • Wetherspoon's pubs - for those of you who like to know what you're getting before you arrive at a pub, try the The Dolphin & Anchor in West Street. The good thing about Wetherspoon's pubs is that as well as having a nice pint of very reasonably priced ale they also serve good, simple food too. Beer and a burger for under a fiver, anyone? And unlike a lot of pubs that are pretending to be restaurants these days, you don't have to listen to blaring music whilst you're eating as Wetherspoon's pubs don't have jukeboxes!
  • The George & Dragon - North St. Although it looks like it's had a recent refurb, this still feels like a traditional pub, and certainly serves a well-kept pint. The menu is pretty basic pub fare but is generally good. All in all, this is an excellent place to stop for lunch, as well as a pleasant evening watering hole.
  • Chichester Inn - West St. Another good pub to spend a lunchtime in, not least because of its south-facing garden. Also, for those cooler evenings, you'll find a nice log fire here. There's also a pool table for the lads (and lasses, of course), plus a rudimentary but inoffensive lunch menu.
  • Park Tavern - Priory Rd. Yet another pub with a traditional look and feel, this is a good choice for the real ale connoisseurs amongst you. Again, basic pub food is also available.
  • The Bell Inn - Broyle Rd. To be honest there's nothing especially great about this pub but it is right opposite the theatre, so if you're looking for somewhere for pre-show meals or post-show drinks...
  • Club life - Chichester is not too well served in this respect, to say the least. Your best bet for a late drink and a dance is the uninspiringly named Thursday Night Club which, one would hope, opens on other nights of the week too. Indeed, Tuesday is 70s/80s night, Friday is "Rock DJ" night and so on. Admission is discounted before 11, and the dress code is officially smart/casual, which equates to no jeans or trainers.
  • And finally... - for more detailed information about pubs, clubs and post-pub fast-food establishments check out the always-interesting Knowhere Guide and, for recommended pubs in West Sussex, Ant Veal's UK Pub Guide.

Page updated 06-Jan-2008 16:09:55 GMT

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