Inside Chichester's Market Cross
Chichester Cross stands in the centre of the city of Chichester, England at the intersection of the four principal streets. According to the inscription upon it, this cross was built by Edward Story, the bishop of Chichester from 1477 to 1503; but little is known for certain and the style and ornaments of the building suggest that it may be referred to the time of Edward IV. It was built so that the poor people should have somewhere to sell their wares. An earlier wooden cross had been erected on the same site by Bishop Rede (1369-1385). The stone cross was repaired during the reign of Charles II, and at the expense of the Duke of Richmond, in 1746 and stands to this day.
The Market Cross is constructed of Caen stone, one of the most favoured building materials of the age. The cross' form is octangular, having a strong butment at each angle, surmounted with pinnacles. On each of its faces is an entrance through a pointed arch, ornamented with crockets and a finial. Above this, on four of its sides, is a tablet, to commemorate its reparation in the reign of Charles II. Above each tablet is a dial, exhibiting the hour to each of the three principal streets; the fourth being excluded from this advantage by standing at an angle. In the centre is a large circular column, the basement of which forms a seat: into this column is inserted a number of groinings, which, spreading from the centre, form the roof beautifully moulded. The central column appears to continue through the roof, and is supported without by eight flying buttresses, which rest on the several corners of the building.
Until the start of the nineteenth century the Cross was used as a market-place; but the increased population of the city requiring a more extensive area for that purpose, a large and convenient market-house was, about the year 1807, erected in the North-street; on the completion of which, it was proposed to take down this Cross, then considered as a nuisance. This was prevented from taking place when some of the members of the corporation purchased several houses on the north side of the Cross in order to widen that part of the street by their demolition.
Chichester has a long history as a settlement; its Roman past and its subsequent importance in Anglo-Saxon times are only its beginnings. It is the seat of a bishopric, with a 12th century cathedral, and is home to some of the oldest churches and buildings in Great Britain.
Chichester today is a local government stronghold, with three levels of government being administered there. It is also a transport hub, and the centre for culture in the region, with a Festival theatre and two art galleries. Nearby Chichester Harbour, together with the South Downs and the city walls, provide opportunities for outdoor pursuits.