Chichester, Ancient See of

views updated


Medieval diocese of England, coterminous with the County of Sussex, suffragan of canterbury. Neither ethelbert of Canterbury's missionary success in Kent nor birinus's in Wessex had any effect on the neighboring South Saxons, and their conversion to Christianity came much later, under wilfrid of york, who successfully preached the gospel to them while exiled from york (c. 681686). He founded the first diocese there, with its see at Selsey. However, when he returned to York, Cadwalla, King of Wessex, who had conquered the South Saxons in 685, attached Selsey to his See of winchester, and Selsey regained its autonomy only in 709. In accord with the decrees of the Council of London (1075) that all sees must be in towns, not villages, the bishop's seat was transferred from Selsey to Chichester in 1082 with no changes in the diocesan boundaries. There the energetic Norman Bishop Ralph de Luffa (10911123) reorganized the diocese and began the Norman cathedral, while Bishop Seffrid II (11801204) introduced Early English elements into the structure. Chichester's best known medieval bishop was richard of chichester (124554), friend and chancellor of St. edmund of abingdon and boniface of savoy, both archbishops of Canterbury. In the 14th and 15th centuries the bishops of Chichester were often men of substance but were primarily involved with nondiocesan projects; for example, John Langton (130537) and robert of stratford (133762) were both chancellors of England. However, the scholar-bishop william rede (136985), who collected the early records of the see, helped revive the diocese, which had been hard hit by the black death. The Dominican Bishop Robert Rede (13971415) compiled the earliest extant Episcopal register, and the controversial Reginald pecock, bishop from 1450 to 1456, was succeeded by John arundel (145978). Bishop Edward Storey (14781503) spiritually revitalized the diocese. Robert Sherborn (150836) protested against King henry viii, but in the end he resigned his see to the king's man, Richard Sampson (153643), under whom the diocese became Anglican. George Day (154347) was instituted by Henry VIII, but he was subsequently imprisoned on account of his resistance to the king. He regained his see under Queen mary. John Christopherson (155759) was the last Roman Catholic bishop. Under Elizabeth I, Chichester became a see of the Church of England. battle abbey and lewes priory were the chief monasteries in the diocese.

Bibliography: f. g. bennett et al., Statutes and Constitutions of the Cathedral Church of Chichester (Chichester 1904). l. f. salzmann; v.3, w. h. godfrey, j. w. bloc and h. c. corlette, Catholic Church of Chichester (London 1911). a. s. duncanjones, Story of Chichester Cathedral (London 1933). Chartulary of the High Church of Chichester, ed. w. d. peckham (Sussex Record Society 46; 1946). k. edwards, The English Secular Cathedrals in the Middle Ages (Manchester, Eng. 1949). w. k. l. clarke, Chichester Cathedral: Its History and Art (London 1962). chichester diocesan record office, Ancient Charters of the Dean and Chapter of Chichester, 6891674, 2nd. ed. (Chichester 1976). a. mccann, A Short History of the City of Chichester and its Cathedral (Chichester 1985). m. hobbs, Chichester Cathedral: An Historical Survey (Chichester 1994).

[m. j. hamilton/eds.]