Chichester cathedral (with detours)

Yesterday involved a little trip to Chichester Cathedral via the Hog’s Back in beautiful sunny weather and so Molly and I have the perfect excuse to sit down and sort through some photographs after getting soaked this morning in yet another downpour .

Chris was on one of his research trails and had arranged a special visit to the 18th century Shell House on the estate of the Dukes of Richmond at Goodwood: a name more often associated with fast cars or horse racing than with conchology. Nonetheless, seeing the shell work properly restored and displaying the original colours was quite a contrast to the Shell Grotto at Margate which was so much degraded by the use of Victorian gas lamps. Shell decorated buildings somehow make me think that I am stepping inside an old fashioned sewing box but that is hardly surprising since the decorative style is so similar to embroidery and both types of handicraft were for hundreds of years the pastime of “girls of good family” and ladies of leisure.

We had some charming and unexpected company for this visit. Joan was a local girl who played in the grounds as a child and remembered running in and out of an overgrown and dilapidated “play house”; yesterday she was revisiting the estate for the first time in eighty years. As we sat and gazed out over the magnificent view towards the Isle of Wight she recalled a time when the 8th Duke had caught her and her friend picking wild flowers to take home for their mothers. A perfect gentleman, he sent them down to the back door of the “big house” to collect a proper bouquet from one of the under-gardeners.

Leaving Joan and her daughter at Goodwood, we somehow navigated our way towards the distant spire. There was some dissent over direction finding at this stage as I was actually driving two men around the English countryside and one of them had brought along the dreaded Satnav. We had Zoltan with us as he had tagged along on the cathedral trail and already got some bonus shots of Guildford when I missed a turning on the way down. As I was frequently reminded. They both had to calm down while I negotiated Chichester city centre parking and restored myself with some tea and cake in the cathedral refectory.

Like many of the day’s visitors I was more absorbed with the progress of the three peregrine falcon chicks recently hatched in a nest on the tower’s South East turret than on the art treasures within. In my defence, I can claim to have been making visits to this cathedral for most of my life and learning something new on each occasion. Of course, I’ll probably be reaching the “forgetting it all” phase soon but the overriding impression that always remains is of the wonderfully daring juxtaposition of old and new. Let’s see if yesterday’s photographs can put it better than I can.

1 Comment

  • Chris says:

    13-19: The Lodge, built in 1743, is known by the intriguing name “Carne’s Seat”. Apparently, if I have this right – it was named after a servant of the 1st Duke of Richmond’s mother (Louise de Keroualle, later Duchess of Portsmouth and Aubigny and a mistress of King Charles II), who had come over with her from France, and spent much time camped at this glorious vantage point.

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