History of our church

St Pancras Church, Chichester

A Brief history of the Building

The Medieval Church

There’s been a church on this site, just outside the ancient East Gate to the city from medieval times.  There must have been a church here at least as early as 1309, when William Eyothe is recorded as Rector.  It was destroyed during the Civil War and remained derelict from the mid 1640s until it was rebuilt in 1749, being completed in October 1750.

The Eighteenth Century Church

The rebuilding cost £805, of which £400 was given by the Countess of Derby, whose generosity is recorded in one of the south windows.  £105 was given by Charles, second Duke of Richmond, to whom the other south window is dedicated.  He also donated the flint for the church from his quarry at Goodwood.  You will see that the stones have been “knapped” (squared off by a process of chipping).  It seems that some of the workmen lost their sight as they had nothing to protect their eyes from the flying chips of flint.

The building that was completed in 1750 included just the part between the south wall and the two arches between the nave and the north aisle.  There were three windows in each side wall.  The entrance was under the tower.  Accommodation was increased in 1801 by a gallery round the south, west and north sides.

The Victorian Extension

In 1869 the north aisle was added.  This involved the demolition of the north wall of the church, which was replaced by the pillar and two arches that we see today.  The main entrance was moved from the tower to its present position in the south wall.  This required that one of the south windows be filled in.  The gallery was removed and replaced with the gallery that you can now see at the west end of the church.  At the same time, the rest of the church was remodelled in a more Victorian style.  In 1877 the organ was built in the gallery. 

The Twentieth Century

Forty years later the oak reredos, on which were painted the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and the Ten Commandments, was added, as a memorial to Joseph Hiscock, a member of the church who was killed at the age of twenty in the Boer War.

By 1987, further reordering of the church was completed.  The choir stalls and the pulpit were removed; the floor was levelled and carpeted; the pews were replaced with upholstered chairs and an extension with a kitchen, toilets and a room for counselling was added.  More recently, the lighting has been modernised and the heating improved.  A video projector and screen is now used instead of hymn books, and this modern technology is a useful teaching resource.

We now have a church building that is steeped in history, but which is also welcoming and flexible for a wide range of events and activities in addition to the regular Sunday services.


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