The Story Of Chichester

Philip MacDougall

Sutton Publishing [w] www.sutton [t] 01453 731 1 14 ISBN: 0750937602 PRICE: £14.99

When you've honed your family history research into an area it's great to then dig a bit deeper and learn more about life in the region. To help you do this, it's important to pick a book that can provide you with answers and not just an historical theory.

Philip MacDougall's The Story of Chichester sits somewhere between the easy-flick local history guide and the in-depth historical study. In fact, this makes it a very readable book for anyone interested in the region.

Despite the city's well recorded connections with Roman occupation there's little about the period in this book. MacDougall

claims that he didn't want to repeat what had already been said in many Roman history books of Chichester. It is therefore not to be regarded as a complete history of the city, more, as the title suggests, a story of its development and influences.

There are 12 chapters in total starting with the early history, touching on Roman influences and the 'award' of Chichester to Roger De Montgomery by William the Conqueror in 1066. It then moves through its establishment as a market town, its spiritual base and role during the Reformation through to Civil War, the Restoration and resurgence in status and wealth during the 18 th century. Later chapters look at the city during the World Wars and the economic growth and more modern developments.

Where possible the author has used mono photography to illustrate changes or depict old buildings that are, mostly, still standing, but the quest is more than just history. MacDougall sees this as a championing of a city that has often been given a bad press.

"Chichester is a city with a remarkable past and an equally promising future. Yet it is rarely seen in such light. Past commentators have often been quite scathing. Words such as 'dull', 'boring' and 'sedate' have often been thrown in its direction. It is a trend that possibly started in the early 17 th century when Daniel Defoe, on visiting the city, recorded that 'if six or seven good families were removed, there would not be much conversation'."

MacDougall does a good job in trying to change its image and there is plenty of history here to please family researchers in the region, at the very least as an indexed historical reference. ■

A journey through time for a ■..' famous old West Sussex city

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