Chichester Tour Guides is pretty good at remembering significant historical dates: 43AD, 681, 1066, 1245, 1501, 1642, 1712 ….. are just some of the momentous years linked to the City’s history. Book a tour with us to find out why….
I’d like to suggest that 2012 might become one of those memorable years too, for several reasons.
In April, we Chichester Tour Guides officially became holders of the Institute of Tourist Guiding Green (City) Badge, after completed a fascinating, if intensive, 6 month course. This recognises that we can confidentally and professionally share our passion for the history, architecture, art and so much more of this wonderful city.
In June, Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Diamond Jubilee and the city commemorated this amazing achievement along with the rest of the UK (and half the world it seemed), with street parties, Union Flags, bunting by the mile and, at The Deanery in the Cathedral Close, newly re-gilded gates to mark the occasion.
The next “Jubilympics” event to take the city by storm (almost literally as it poured with rain for most of the day) was when the Olympic Torch Relay came through the city on Monday 16th July, on its way to the London 2012 Games. Thousands of people cheered and waved as this event linked Chichester with the rest of the UK route (which was within an hour of 95% of people in the UK) – a logistical headache, but so well planned….. and executed – as indeed were the Games themselves; – all truly unforgettable.
In July too, the long awaited Novium Museum finally opened its doors, in a ground breaking modernist building on the site of the city’s Roman Baths, just north of the Cathedral in Tower Street. This striking new building is now also the new home for the Tourist Information Centre.
Two other iconic buildings of the city have been celebrating significant anniversaries too in 2012. Chichester Festival Theatre first opened its doors in 1962 and has wowed audiences again in its 50th year, with performances by a wonderful array of well known and loved stars. The theatre also received a whopping £12 million Arts Council grant which unlocks a further £8 million in pledges from local businesses and West Sussex County and Chichester District Councils, so plans are taking shape on some great developments for 2013 and beyond. The concluding event this season in the Theatre’s sister venue, The Minerva Theatre was Gold Run on 30 October, a production inspired by the history of the Paralympic Games, performed by artists with learning disabilities and delivered in conjunction with disability arts organisation Carousel and Pallant House Gallery, which also celebrated this year. The Gallery is housed in an elegant house in the south east quadrant of the city known as The Pallants. Built 300 years ago in 1712 for Henry Peckham, a local wine importer- the building first became a modern art gallery 30 years ago in 1982, so – two anniversaries this year for the price of one!
Within our group of Tour Guides we’ve all individually had a memorable year, with a retirement, family weddings, holidays to far flung places and, for me, helping as a volunteer “Games Maker” for ten wonderful days at the “biggest show on earth”, the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, followed by being involved with releasing a Top 40 single “I Wish For You The World” with the Games Maker Choir!
And finally, as they say……………The Chichester Tour Guides have completed the year, by offering daily tours of the city during the Christmas break, culminating on New Year’s Day.
So, 2012 will go down as a memorable year for many of us. 2013 has got a hard act to follow, but watch this space for plans to come…… and Happy New Year!