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Cathedral, Chichester, West Sussex, England
Church of the Holy Trinity, West Sussex, England.
Church of England, Diocese
The architectural historian Sir Nikolaus Pevsner called Chichester
"the most typical English cathedral." The building
dates from 1075 and is of early Norman design with additions
in varying Gothic styles. The original cathedral was badly damaged
by fire in 1114 and again in 1186. Repaired, it was rededicated
in 1199. Over the years much has been added, including a doubling
of the aisles in the 13th century; a free-standing bell tower
in the late 14th century (making Chichester unique among English
cathedrals in this regard); and a spire in the 15th century
(rebuilt by Christopher Wren in the 17th century and rebuilt
again after it suddenly collapsed in 1861). The interior is
full of art treasures ancient and modern. There is a table tomb
on which lie the effigies of Richard Fitzalan, Earl of Arundel,
and his second wife Eleanor, holding hands – inspiration
for the poem An Arundel Tomb by Philip Larkin. There
can also be found the shrine of St Richard of Chichester and
the grave of the composer Gustav Holst.
Upkeep of the cathedral is largely dependent on a number of
volunteer groups. The cathedral sponsors educational programs
and is host to a number of exhibitions, concerts, lectures and
social activities throughout the year. It is also home to a
family of peregrine falcons who come back year after year to
nest high in the roof. In 1965 the cathedral commissioned the
American composer Leonard Bernstein to write a work for the
Southern Cathedrals Festival. The resulting Chichester Psalms,
in Hebrew, has won favour with more advanced English and American
church choirs, especially the hauntingly beautiful second movement
(Psalm 23 interrupted by Psalm 2).
Chichester is a small city built with a cross in the centre
from which radiate four major streets in each direction of the
compass. The cathedral is on West Street in the centre of Chichester
close to all the busy shops. There is lovely green outside the
The Revd Canon Tim Schofield, precentor, was the celebrant.
The Very Revd Nicholas Frayling, dean, preached.
The date & time:
Sunday, 2 August 2009, 11.00am.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
Full, only a few empty seats.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
We were greeted by sidespeople who gave us the service booklet
but left us to find seats by ourselves.
Was your pew comfortable?
Yes. Padded seats which were very comfortable on the bottom
although a bit close to the seat in front, which meant that
if you did want to kneel, it would be difficult.
How would you describe the pre-service
Muted chattering but surprisingly no pre-service organ music.
What were the exact opening words of the
"A very warm welcome to this cathedral eucharist."
What books did the congregation use during the
The service booklet produced by the cathedral and a news leaflet.
What musical instruments were played?
Organ. The cathedral's organ, dating from 1678, contains pipework
from many of England's most noted organ builders. It was originally
mounted on the rood screen but was moved to the north transept
just in time to escape damage from the collapse of the spire
in 1861. Botched renovations in the 1950s rendered the instrument
unplayable, and it was not until 1985 that the reconstructed
and reassembled organ was rededicated for service. The action
is tracker throughout, without any electric or pneumatic assistance.
Did anything distract you?
There was a very well-behaved child sitting behind me who kept
busy at a colouring book. The sound of the pencils was distracting
until I discovered what it was. Someone close by kept adjusting
his hearing aid so the service was interrupted by the telltale
whistling. Although the seats were comfortable, they were designed
with a wooden shelf attached to the back for the benefit of
the row behind; any movement such as sitting up or straightening
one's posture had a tendency to cause items to fall off the
shelf. A box of gift aid envelopes went crashing to the ground
at one point.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or
Traditional Anglican, as you would expect in a cathedral. There
was a grand procession at the start of the service with the
priests and all the associated candle and incense bearers. Incense
was only burnt at the beginning. (We were later told by one
of the coffee ladies that as the incense smell dies away it
gets replaced by the smell of coffee, but only if you are around
the choir stalls.)
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
9 Well constructed and delivered with an easy manner,
In a nutshell, what was the sermon
The dean began by reminding us of what theologian Karl Barth
once said: "Preach with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper
in the other." He commented on the news over recent days,
the responsibilities that the prime minister and government
have to bear, confusing advice regarding swine flu, controversy
surrounding unlawful rendition, etc. Do sunbeds cause cancer?
Should the so-called peace walls separating Catholic and Protestant
neighbourhoods in Northern Ireland stay up or come down? How
can we think theologically about all this? Jesus said, "Do
not be afraid." Fear is a characteristic of the old self. What
do we do in times of trouble? We must return to the works of
Jesus. God is life, and belief in God is to be not afraid. We
can see glimpses of the divine in the present. We are in danger
of losing sight of this in the current obsession with being
right or even righteousness. We reject those with whom we disagree
as we surround ourselves with like-minded people. Exclusivism
Which part of the service was like being in
The wonderful music, both the organ and also two visiting choirs
from St Nicolas, Guildford and St Albans, Gossops Green, Crawley.
We were told there were also members from other choirs. They
were especially excellent in the motet, the lovely Prayer
of St Richard of Chichester by Malcolm Archer.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The whistling hearing aid, the falling box of gift aid envelopes.
Also, the exchange of peace was very short – we had no time
to greet the people around us.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Coffee, wine and squash (fruit drink) were served in the south
How would you describe the after-service
The coffee was delicious and served with a friendly smile in
plastic cups with holders (no tea, though). The ladies serving
were very friendly. I asked if the coffee was fair trade, and
one of the ladies was kind enough to find out and even look
up the brand name for me. Whilst we sat drinking our coffee,
the ladies came round with coffee pots to offer refills.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
6 It was lovely if you want the grand celebration, but
because the cathedral is so large and because of the layout,
I felt that I was not really a part of the service. I could
not see anything that was going on during the service.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
Despite the above, yes it did.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The fantastic music and the friendly coffee ladies.
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