Highways and Byways in Sussex - online book

An illustrated appreciation, of the most interesting districts in Sussex.

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IV
CHICHESTER CATHEDRAL
23
" ' Madam, I have a great veneration for genius.'
"She showed us an unfinished picture from The Bride of Lammermoor. The figure of Lucy Ashton was completed, and, she told us, was the portrait of a young friend of hers; but Ravenswood was without a head, and this she explained by saying, 'there are no handsome men in Chichester. But,' she continued, her countenance brightening, 'the Tenth are expected here soon.' " (The Tenth was noted for its handsome officers.)
Leslie does not carry the story farther. Whether poor Ravenswood ever gained his head; whether if he did so it wras a military one, or, as a last resource, a Chichester one; and where the picture, if completed, now is, I do not know, nor have I succeeded in discovering any more of the young lady. But passing through the streets of the town I was conscious of the absence of the Tenth.
Chichester is a perfect example of an English rural capital, thronged on market days with tilt carts, each bringing a farmer or farmer's wife, and rich in those well-stored ironmongers' shops that one never sees elsewhere. But it is more than this : it is also a cathedral town, writh the ever present sense of domina­tion by the cloth even when the cloth is not visible. Chichester has its roughs and its public houses (Mr. Hudson in his Nature in Dowtiland gives them a caustic chapter); it also has its race-week every July, and barracks within hail; yet it is always a cathedral town. Whatever noise may be in the air you know in your heart that quietude is its true characteristic. One might say that above the loudest street cries you are continually conscious of the silence of the close.
Chichester's cathedral is not among the most beautiful or the most interesting, but there is none cooler. It dates from the eleventh century and contains specimens of almost every kind of church architecture; but the spire is comparatively new, having been built in 1866 to take the place of its predecessor, which suddenly dropped like an extinguisher five years before.
D
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