Chichester’s historic heart and affluent community, plus its proximity to beautiful countryside, make it an ideal location for those wanting the best of both urban and rural living
The cathedral city of Chichester is on England’s south west coast. It’s the only city in West Sussex and has an enviable array of cafés, shops and restaurants, as well as a rich collection of historical buildings.
It’s also close to picturesque countryside. Chichester Harbour has been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the valleys and woodlands of the South Downs National Park are only a short drive away.
As may be expected, a home among these attractions doesn't come cheap. At present the average house price is £416,000, a considerable step up from the average of £381,000 across the whole of West Sussex. Take a look at the latest figures here.
Get an overview of West Sussex by reading our dedicated guide on the county.
Living in Chichester: what to expect
The city has a medieval heart and is enclosed by original Roman walls. Dominating it all is the cathedral, which has stood in the city for nearly 1,000 years.
Four roads quarter Chichester according to compass points - and they are home to some of the city’s finest Georgian properties. A bright mix of independent and mainstream shops, coffee houses, tea rooms and even pavement cafés can be found here.
There’s also a number of outdoor pursuits on offer in and around the city, particularly sailing. Clubs such as Chichester Yacht Club have a thriving membership and host regular year-round events.
Where to start your property search
City and suburbs: The most sought-after roads include North, South, East and West Pallant. These quiet streets boast Grade II listed Georgian townhouses with original features such as high ceilings and open fireplaces. Some have long gardens and attractive white render too.
Alternatively, look at St John’s Street, which has more Georgian terraces with character features including sash windows and moulded cornicing.
The Summersdale suburb is about a mile out of the city centre. Look along The Avenue or The Drive for substantial detached homes built in the 1930s or quiet cul-de-sacs such as Tregarth Road for semi-detached properties.
Just to the north of the city is the Parklands suburb. Opt for a large three-bedroom terrace with arched doorway and open fireplace, or a listed Georgian terrace.
Post-war properties are also available in this suburb. Check out Flaxman Avenue for three-bedroom detached homes with paved driveways and very generous gardens.
If you’d prefer a modern property, take a look at one of the new developments. Graylingwell Park is just one mile from the city centre and will have 750 new homes, many converted from former asylum buildings. Alternatively, Roussillon Park has one- to three-bedroom flats and two- to four-bedroom houses.
It’s also worth keeping an eye on the canal, where many contemporary purpose-built apartment blocks are starting to appear.
By the coast: The coastal area has plenty of picturesque villages if you’d prefer to be a bit closer to the sea.
East and West Strands, which run parallel to the seafront, is a desirable corner of West Wittering. Some of the houses have up to six bedrooms and offer excellent views. Roman Landing is also popular thanks to its stately detached homes and proximity to the beach.
Itchenor is another popular village – check out the homes on Spinney Lane for a home with a view of the harbour. Alternatively, search around Smugglers Lane in Bosham for a harbourside home that is also near to the woodland of Bosham Hoe.
Getting around Chichester
By car: The main route in the area is the A27, which connects Eastbourne with Southampton. It passes to the south of the city and connects to the M27, M3 and M275. The road can become very congested, particularly during rush hour.
Other important routes include the A29 to London, which joins the A27 to the east of the city, and the A285, which runs north-east to Petworth. Also heading north is the A286, which leads to Haslemere.
By air: Gatwick Airport is just over an hour’s drive away. You can take your pick of 220 destinations in 90 countries.
By sea: You can reach Portsmouth International Airport within a 30-minute drive. Ferries to France, Spain and the Channel Islands as well as luxury cruises all depart from here.
Things to do in Chichester
History: Chichester Cathedral still has some of its original Norman features as well as an impressive Victorian spire. Free guided tours are available so you can learn more about its artwork and medieval carvings.
The Novium is a state-of-the-art museum built above the remains of a Roman bath house, which dates back to 1AD. It also has a series of interactive exhibitions about the town and the 4th-century Chilgrove mosaic.
Chichester’s Roman walls were first built 1,800 years ago. They are now the most intact circuit of Roman town defences in Southern England, with 80% of the structure still standing. The city walls walk is the best way to see them in their entirety.
Cultural: Large-scale musical and theatrical productions are hosted at the Chichester Festival Theatre. It was refurbished and re-opened in 2014 and has a number of youth theatre groups as well as classes in writing, dance and drama. During the summer, it produces its own work and in the winter it hosts touring productions.
A fine collection of Modern British Art by Lucien Freud, Henry Moore and Peter Blake is on show at the Pallant House Gallery. There’s also a calendar of temporary exhibitions that showcase national, international and contemporary art.
Outdoors: The unspoilt landscape of the Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty spans 74 sq m. Not only is it a wildlife haven but it’s also a perfect place for sailing and boating. Search along the saltmarsh and mudflats to see some of the 55,000 birds that visit the area or stop for a tour round one of the scenic villages.
Stunning landscapes, lowland heaths and ancient woodland can all be found within the South Downs National Park. It covers 1,600 sq km and reaches right across to the white cliffs of the Seven Sisters. Explore on foot, by bike or on horseback for views of the Isle of Wight and the heathland of the Western Weald.
Shopping: North, South, East and West Streets around the city’s market cross are the prime shopping areas. Here you will find gift, book, fashion and antique stores and some recognisable high street favourites. Vintage and small, independent shops also crowd Crane Street and Little London Walk.
Chichester also hosts a famers’ market twice a month. All traders must grow, rear or bake their own goods and be based within a 30-mile radius of the city. You can pick up fresh goods such as eggs, cheese, cake and seasonal fruit and vegetables.
Food and drink: Treat yourself without feeling guilty at St Martin’s Coffee House. It sells homemade, organic food made of ingredients high in antioxidants and low in saturated fat. Play a game of chess or scrabble while enjoying dishes such as organic lentil rice and nut soup or fat-free cakes.
Enjoy authentic Spanish tapas at Artie’s Kitchen. Dishes are cooked using traditional and modern techniques and include crowd-pleasing favourites such as chorizo al vino tinto and croquetas con jamon.
Venture into the South Downs to find a host of traditional country pubs. The Fox Goes Free is just one example. It’s based in a 400-year-old building and serves home-cooked food and real ales.
Modern artists such as John Piper and Marc Chagall were both commissioned to provide artwork for the ancient cathedral. Chagall designed a stained-glass window and Piper made a tapestry altarpiece, both of which can still be seen today.
5 reasons to live in Chichester
Close to an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a national park
Choice of elegant Georgian townhouses
Selection of mainstream and independent shops
Historic centre with plenty of culture to explore
Stylish restaurants, cafés and bars
What drew your attention to Chichester? Share your thoughts in the comments below…