Thursday, 3 May 2018

The changing population of Chichester

The ‘Flashback - Chichester’ group on Facebook continues to provide me with a treasure-trove of fascinating information about Chichester. This week there was a link to a ‘brief history of Chichester’ by Tim Lambert, which highlighted to me how the population of Chichester has changed over the years.

The Romans first settled and built a fort in Chichester in 44AD. When the army moved on, the Romans named the town Noviomagus (meaning ‘new market place’) building a grid system of streets with a marketplace in the centre. Today this is where North, East, South and West Streets meet at the Chichester Cross. Little is known about the density of the city during the Roman’s occupancy, but the number of relics found and an indication that an amphitheatre had space for 800 spectators, suggests it was a busy market town for the period.

Again, little is known about the Saxon era, so we’ll fast forward to the Norman conquest (1066) when it is thought Chichester had a population of around 1,500. Whilst small by our standards, Lambert reminds us that at the time most villages had just 100-150 people, with anything over 1,000 seen as a large town. Chichester Cathedral was consecrated in 1108 alongside weekly markets and an annual fair every October. By 1250 the population of Chichester was thought to be around 2,500.

In 1501 Chichester’s Market Cross was built, allowing the poorest traders to avoid the market toll. It was during the 16th century though that Chichester declined in importance, as a variety of its trades deteriorated. By the time of the 1642 civil war Chichester had a population of around 3,000 people and it was seen as a “quiet little town”. Large re-building schemes throughout Chichester in the 17th and 18th century’s saw the population rise to 4,000 by 1720 and to 5,000 by 1801.

Like the rest of Britain in the 19th century (which quadrupled in population), Chichester began to grow rapidly, with Somerstown being built in the early 1800’s, followed by the South-East corner of the city. This led to an increasingly busy city centre, so the Butter Market, Corn Market and Cattle Market were all built. Within a century the population had almost doubled, with 9,000 residents as of 1900.

The 20th century saw the most growth though, with a population of 12,000 by the First World War (due to Summersdale being built), 16,000 by the Second World War (as council homes started to be built), 21,000 by 1971 and over 23,000 by the end of the century.

The most recent census in 2011 shows a population of 26,795 in Chichester and with a plethora of new developments on the horizon (including Whitehouse Farm - the largest ever single development in Chichester’s history with 1,600 homes planned) it seems Chichester’s growing population shows no signs of slowing down any time soon!

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(This article was featured in the Chichester Observer's property section on 3rd May 2018) 

Clive Janes, CRJ Lettings.

If you are looking for an agent that is well established, professional and communicative in Chichester, then contact us to find out how we can get the best out of your investment property.

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