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THE ARTS SOCIETY
CITY OF CHICHESTER

Who are we?

We are called Chichester Combined Church Recorders because members of our group come from all three Chichester societies. There are ten of us at the moment but if you are interested having read this piece we are a very friendly group and new members are always welcome. You don’t need to know lots about churches. You just have to have an interest in history, enjoy trying to find the right words to describe objects and a determination to track down their age and how they came to be in the church in the first place. We meet twice a month at the church and also spend time on research and writing up our findings to the exacting standards of the Arts Society.  It is fascinating and rewarding work.

Why was Church Recording first started?

In the Spring of 1971 the Victoria and Albert Museum, aware of the vulnerability of the contents of many historic churches to damage and loss asked NADFAS if their members would help produce a detailed record of the inside of such churches local to the various NADFAS groups. NADFAS agreed to this suggestion and to date this cooperation has been very successful. The first request by the police now, if anything disappears from a church, is to ask if the church has been recorded.

What exactly is a Record?

Church Recorders produce inventories of the contents of places of worship, describing items and exploring their history. They record memorials, metalwork, stonework, textiles, paintings, libraries, windows, and miscellaneous items.  Once completed the Church Record is presented in book form to the church. Other copies are presented to the County Record Office, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Council for the Care of Churches and the National Monuments Record.

Which Churches has our group recorded?

Our first was the Church of St Peter, Westhampnett. We were then asked by the Bishop of Chichester if we would make a Record of the Bishop’s Chapel in the Bishop’s Palace Chichester. This Record is rather special as it is the only Record of a Bishop’s Palace Chapel in England. In 2014 we completed the record of the beautiful little Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Apuldram and then moved on to record the charming Chapel of St Mary’s, Sennicotts. In early 2016 work began at the church of St Peter and St Mary, Fishbourne and the record was completed in 2019. 

Presentation of Fishbourne Record

On Sunday the 8th of December Chichester Combined Church Recording Team, after three years work, presented to the Church Wardens and congregation of St Peter and St Mary Fishbourne, a Record which included photographs, descriptions and  history of the fittings and furnishings of the interior of their church.

During the Service, Pam Hilton, the Church Recording Leader at the time gave a short talk about the group's history and how much they had enjoyed working in a heated church and getting to know the members of the congregation who cleaned the church after the Morning Service.  She also thanked the Team, especially the photographer Michael Kemp and John Williams the compiler for their dedication and hard work.

She also pointed out that this book was rather special because after fourteen years and five churches  the original team had decided to take a well earned retirement. The team joined the congregation for coffee after the Service and then went off for lunch at The Horse and Groom!

What's next?

The Chichester Combined Church Recording team has now re-formed and Jennifer Woolfrey of the City of Chichester and Sheila Duff of the Chichester Society are Joint Leaders.  The team is now recording at St George’s Church, Whyke in Chichester working hard on a ‘’wealth of lovely contents’’. 

Want to find out more?

There are still openings in the Church Recording team, so if anyone is at all interested and would like to know more of this interesting, rewarding work please contact Jennifer Woolfrey.  Her email address is j.woolfrey@btinternet.com or telephone 01243 530745.