Spotlight on Chichester
PUBLISHED: 12:56 22 October 2009 | UPDATED: 16:18 20 February 2013
With its impressive cathedral towering over the city centre, Chichester has an historic feel about it, reinforced by its mix of individual shops and cafes. Kate Eastman meets some of the people behind its other important tradition: crafts...
Andrew McDowall tailors
Andrew Moore is now the owner of the well-established Andrew McDowall shop in North Street, buying it from his father ten years ago.
You could say Andrew Moore was destined to become a tailor. His father, also Andrew, has owned and run shops in Selsey and Chichester for decades. So when ten years ago Andrew had the chance to join forces he couldn't resist.
"At 77 my father is still making the suits," he says. "It takes 40 hours of labour to make one hand-made suit."
Training to be a full master tailor is a seven-year apprenticeship, and Andrew, left, originally trained to become an accountant. "My father can make ladies, men's and military uniforms - there aren't many tailors that can do it all nowadays.
"During the 1980s my father made the Royal Navy Display Team uniforms - quite an achievement because there were top people in Savile Row who said it couldn't be done. For a while we were lent the uniform of Admiral Lord St Vincent's tail coat for us to copy, borrowed from the Royal Maritime Museum."
One memorable item of clothing was a Teddy Boy pink jacket made for actor Christopher Timothy for his 50th birthday. "He wore it when he appeared on The Wogan Show," says Andrew. "He couldn't get any pink socks to go with the outfit but I had a pair and gave them to him to wear.
"So not only my jacket but my socks have appeared on Wogan!"
Chantry House Oak & Rugs
Established in 1999, Chantry House Oak & Rugs came about almost by accident. The bespoke furniture maker started when builder James Ward, above, was let down by a fellow tradesman. He explains: "A joiner was supposed to be making some staircases for us but let us down and we ended up making them ourselves.
"I then wanted a nice table and couldn't find what I wanted so I made one and some chairs to go with it.
"I had a house-warming party and some friends came round and ordered a table and chairs and it all started from there. I didn't have any training. I taught myself."
Sadly not everyone appreciates the beauty of handcrafted wood, as James explains: "The most memorable item we made was a very nice pair of oak doors for Jackie Stewart. We were really proud of them, but when went round to varnish them we discovered that he had painted them black!"
R L Austen jewellers
Right in the heart of the city, R L Austen is one of 18 jewellers based in Chichester. An independent family-run jeweller dating back to 1794 and originally under the name E H Lewis, the business was bought by 'Dickie' Austen, a fighter pilot and gemmologist, in 1964, and the name changed to R L Austen.
It soon became one of the first independent jewellers in the UK to stock Rolex watches, and has continued to do so for more than 40 years.
The manager of the shop, Martin Getting, above, has been a jeweller since he left school. "I did a five-year apprenticeship," he says.
"It was hard work at the time but I have now been in the trade for 34 years. I came here for a job interview when I was 16 but I didn't get it - now I'm proud to be the manager.
"You need a steady hand to do this job, good eyesight, be good with customers and a sense of humour helps as well!"
Cathedral Works Organisation masonry
One of the leading stonework masonry contractors in the country, CWO employs more than 90 masons and staff specialising in stone restoration, new build and stone supply.
For more than four decades the firm has made conserving and repairing the nation's building heritage its mission.
CWO's plant in Chichester has some of the most advanced production facilities in the industry and has benefited from constant upgrading and investment with the installation of state of the art stone cutting, turning and handling equipment, enabling the craftsmen to produce very high quality stonemasonry.
Andrew Swinley, right, is a stone mason who has worked at CWO for just four months but brings 30 years of experience to the company.
"When I was an apprentice it took me three years learning masonry and another three years just carving," he says. "Unfortunately, I do think that now it's a dying craft in a highly skilled profession.
"At the moment I am carving work for Buckingham Palace on a two-year project. We're also working on Chichester Cathedral restoring the East Cloisters and St Faith's House."
Weald and Downland Museum mill
Set with the grounds of the Weald and Downland Museum is an original 17th century mill rescued from nearby Lurgashall and re-erected at the museum during the 1970s.
The working mill is staffed by a group of volunteer millers each day the museum is open. The freshly ground flour is sold it in the shop, café and at the farmers' market in Chichester and farm shops.
Assistant miller Ian Bartle, right, has worked at the mill since April. "I worked with an experienced miller here for several weeks before I was deemed capable of running it myself," he says.
"When the mill was brought to the museum in the Seventies the upper pond size had to be increased. We're not on a natural stream here so we recycle the water.
"Last year the mill produced 20 tonnes of flour, which is an average of 90 kilos a day.
"There are a limited number of water mills in this country today but the mills that can be resurrected are beginning to be restored. People are getting interested in the resource again: it's a natural thing to do and very sustainable."
Did you know?
Chichester was founded about AD70 by the Romans who laid out the main street plan and built the city walls.
Chichester Cathedral in the heart of the city has been the centre of the community for 900 years.
The cathedral has many 20th century works of art including a window by Marc Chagall.
Pallant House Gallery, built in 1712, is an outstanding grade 1 listed example of late Queen Anne town architecture.
The University of Chichester can trace its origins back to 1839.
Goodwood House, home of the Dukes of Richmond for more than 300 years, is open for 60 days a year.
The harbour is linked to the town by a four- mile canal. The district council manages nine miles of coastline from Pagham to the harbour.
At the South Downs Planetarium you can see more than 4,000 stars.
For seven days in December 1642, Chichester was besieged by Parliamentarian forces. The Roundheads surrounded Chichester and its four main gates.
Actors who have appeared at Chichester include some of the greatest names in the theatre, from Laurence Olivier down.