Manuscript music book of John Walter, Chichester Cathedral, 17th century (Cap/VI/1/1)

30 Cap VI-1-1 ff 205-204 r

Anthony Kane  Chosen by Anthony Cane, Chancellor of Chichester Cathedral

The Archive of the Cathedral and Diocese of Chichester, dating back over 1200 years, is a rich and varied collection. The action of the Dean and Chapter of Chichester in depositing its archives in the Diocesan Record Office followed the establishment of that Office by the Bishop of Chichester on 21 July 1949. Since then, there have been various accessions of records which form this collection.

(Cap VI/1/1 ff 204-205)

This remarkable music book is one of several surviving volumes from the 17th and 18th centuries. It contains songs and anthems, composed mainly by John Blow and Henry Purcell, and copied by John Walter, organist at Eton College between 1681 and 1704. It provides one of the earliest sources for many of these works and one, ‘Sleep Adam Sleep’, is reputed to be in Purcell’s own hand.  This choral tradition continues to provide the heartbeat of the Cathedral’s worshipping life, as our outstanding choir sings services nearly every day.

There are many remarkable items within the archives of the Cathedral, but among those most fascinating are the records relating to musical history. The Record Office also holds copies of the diaries of John Marsh (1752-1828), celebrated composer and diarist, that cover his time at Chichester, and documents his 25 year personal feud with Chichester Cathedral organist William Walond.

Southern Cathedrals Festival programme, 1962 (Lib 4465)

Between 21 and 23 July, Chichester Cathedral will play host to the annual Southern Cathedrals Festival, a celebration of choral and organ music performed by the renowned choirs from Chichester, Salisbury, and Winchester cathedrals. The 5-day music festival began in 1904 with a service was held in Chichester Cathedral to celebrate the reopening of the main organ of Chichester Cathedral following its restoration. Bringing together the cathedral choirs of Chichester, Winchester, and Salisbury Cathedrals, the ‘Three Choirs Festival’ was then held in Salisbury in 1905, followed by Winchester in 1906.

Southern Cathedrals Festival programme, 1992 (Lib 11763)
Southern Cathedrals Festival programme, 1992 (Lib 11763)


After a 28 year break, the festival was re-established in 1960, and 2016 once again sees Chichester hosting the weekend. The choirs will be performing separately and together and will be complemented by visiting performers, offering a unique opportunity to enjoy music and to take part in worship within the setting of the magnificent Chichester cathedral.

You can find out more about the festival on their website, and find a full programme of events at

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