The comprehensive gazetteer and bibliography of the medieval castles, fortifications and palaces of England, Wales, the Islands.
The listings
Other Info
Print Page 
Next Record 
Previous Record 
Back to list 

Chichester City Wall

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Cisseceastre; Ciceastre; Cheechester

In the civil parish of Chichester.
In the historic county of Sussex.
Modern Authority of West Sussex.
1974 county of West Sussex.
Medieval County of Sussex (Rape of Chichester).

OS Map Grid Reference: SU857046
Latitude 50.83581° Longitude -0.78430°

Chichester City Wall has been described as a certain Urban Defence.

There are major building remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.


Wall follows line of Roman wall. Much of wall survives but gatehouse and many bastions are gone. Repairs ordered to roman wall in 1204, first murage granted 1261. Major restorations in 1261 and 1370's. In shape, an irregular polygon: eleven facets. Erected probably before end of C2. Bastions added by mid C4. Traces of Roman work remain both at base of existing wall and in earth ramparts. Medieval and later work (more piecemeal). Rampart promenade built in C18. 4 city gates dismantled between 1772 and 1783.

The walls and gates of the city, Roman in origin ... The walls, as they now appear, show little or no Roman work, but no doubt the Roman core has been refaced time after time, for there is no reason to suppose the line of the wall has been changed since the Romano-British period.
The duty of keeping the wall in repair was recognised in the 12th century, for when the dean desired to open a way from his garden to his land and orchards between the wall and the River Lavant, he obtained a licence from the king to make a postern gate. This gate, which can be dated between 1178–1180, is clearly recognisable in the Deanery garden.
Except for the upkeep of the castle, little is heard of the defence of the city until 1261, when the men of the King of the Romans had a grant of murage for five years from the king.
Questions were constantly arising in the 13th century as to the maintenance and ownership of the ditch. The house of Emeline de Merstone was said to be divided into two messuages, one of which had been built almost in the ditch (quasi de fossato), and therefore was said to owe one penny to the king, as well as 18d. to the lights of the altar of the Blessed Virgin Mary. There was evidently much dispute as to the relation of these houses to the king and to the earl. It appears that there was a ditch (fossatum) around the part of the city where the castle had been situated, but there was no ditch round the portion where the property of the church lay, save the stream of the Lavant.
In 1339 the king appointed the Earl of Arundel, Thomas de Braiose and Master William de Fishbourne to survey the walls and put the city in a state of defence at the expense of the mayor, bailiffs and citizens. The bishop (Robert Stratford) and the dean and chapter, in view of the poverty of the city and the heavy expense, agreed to share in the work, the king consenting that such share should not form a precedent. Again, in 1341, £27 of the fee-farm was remitted, on account of the great charges of inclosing the city. In 1369 another commission to repair the walls was issued, and the mayor and the dean were to co-operate in seeing that the grant of murage for ten years was applied only for these repairs. All merchants 'who stay there continually and live of their merchandise,' even if they held no tenement, were to contribute. In 1377 authority was given to the mayor and bailiffs to complete the city ditch newly begun, 50 ft. broad, with its walls, turrets, and gates, and to remove houses and buildings adjacent to the wall or where the ditch ought to be constructed, compensating the owners; the mayor had authority to compel all religious persons as well as secular to contribute. In 1385 the mayor had power to demolish all buildings and trees within 100 ft. of the walls, and even the suburbs, when it was necessary for greater safety; he could apparently impress labour for this purpose anywhere within the rape of Chichester, and punish the disobedient. The last grant of murage is said to have been in 1443, when the wall from the East Gate to the South Gate was substantially repaired. (Dallaway, Hist. of Suss. i, p. 11; his authority for this statement cannot be traced.) The walls and ramparts were repaired in 1724 and the walks on the north and east walls were levelled by William Beauclerk, M.P. The elm trees along these walls had been planted in 1701.
We know little of the medieval gates, except that the North, West and South Gates were taken down in 1772–3, but the East Gate stood until 1783, as it supported the city gaol, which was then rebuilt on the south side of it. There is a reference in 1374 to the chapel of Our Lady upon the North Gate which is supposed to have been in the upper story of the gateway. (VCH 1935)
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape   County HER   Scheduling   Listing   I. O. E.
Maps >
Streetmap   NLS maps   Where's the path   Old-Maps      
Data/Maps > 
Magic   V. O. B.   Geology   LiDAR   Open Domesday  
Air Photos > 
Bing Maps   Google Maps   Getmapping   ZoomEarth      
Photos >
CastleFacts   Geograph   Flickr   Panoramio      

Sources of information, references and further reading
Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.
It is an offence to disturb a Scheduled Monument without consent. It is a destruction of everyone's heritage to remove archaeological evidence from ANY site without proper recording and reporting.
Don't use metal detectors on historic sites without authorisation.
The information on this web page may be derived from information compiled by and/or copyright of Historic England, County Historic Environment Records and other individuals and organisations. It may also contain information licensed under the Open Government Licence. All the sources given should be consulted to identify the original copyright holder and permission obtained from them before use of the information on this site for commercial purposes.
The author and compiler of Gatehouse does not receive any income from the site and funds it himself. The information within this site is provided freely for educational purposes only.
The bibliography owes much to various bibliographies produced by John Kenyon for the Council for British Archaeology, the Castle Studies Group and others.
Suggestions for finding online and/or hard copies of bibliographical sources can be seen at this link.
Minor archaeological investigations, such as watching brief reports, and some other 'grey' literature is most likely to be held by H.E.R.s but is often poorly referenced and is unlikely to be recorded here, or elsewhere, but some suggestions can be found here.
The possible site or monument is represented on maps as a point location. This is a guide only. It should be noted that OS grid references defines an area, not a point location. In practice this means the actual center of the site or monument may often, but not always, be to the North East of the point shown. Locations derived from OS grid references and from latitude longitiude may differ by a small distance.
Further information on mapping and location can be seen at this link.
Please help to make this as useful a resource as possible by contacting Gatehouse if you see errors, can add information or have suggestions for improvements in functality and design.
Help is acknowledged.
*The listed building may not be the actual medieval building, but a building on the site of, or incorporating fragments of, the described site.
This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:02

Home | Books | Links | Fortifications and Castles | Other Information | Help | Downloads | Author Information | Contact