20th September 2005
This visit to the Cathedral was most interesting. Our guide for the visit to the tower was the Clerk of Works for the Cathedral, who had worked in and on the building for the last 40 years or so. His knowledge of the structure, it’s history, it’s past problems and the problems it now faces was extensive and as a result of some lengthy discussions with us, the trip to the tower lasted considerably longer than had been planned.
The route to the tower was less than obvious. After climbing a staircase to the under-roof area, we walked along the chapel ceilings, which gave us a birds-eye view of the knave, to a spiral staircase to gain access to the next level of the under-roof area on the opposite side of the building. This area was particularly interesting since it revealed just how simple and fragile the roof trusses for the Cathedral are. All of these wooden trusses and beams are hundreds of years old, secured solely by fitted joints and a few dowels, no steal or bolts to be seen. From here, another spiral staircase climb to the parapet around the tower and some fantastic views over Chichester and the Sussex countryside. We were then able to access the base of the spire and view its construction, (no volunteers to climb the rickety old, almost vertical, ladders to the top).
The tour of the ground floor level of the Cathedral, given by two lady guides, was most informative, again leading to many question and answer sessions in the process of walking around with them. Our guides were able to point out many interesting features of the Cathedral, especially those that one could easily walk straight past as a casual visitor.
Some of the group returned after the break for lunch to listen to the Organ recital, one of many organised throughout the year as part.