MacDonald Gill: Charting a Life

By Caroline Walker, Guest Speaker This autumn the West Sussex Record Office is celebrating the life and work of Sussex-born artist MacDonald Gill. 'Max' - as he was known to friends and family - was an architect, mural painter, letterer, and graphic artist in the first half of the 20th Century, best known for his…

West Sussex Unwrapped III: Summer – Chichester Festival Theatre, 1959-1962

Chichester Festival Theatre, 1959-1962 Sixty years ago, in 1962, Chichester's brand new Festival Theatre opened. Looking rather like a mid-century spaceship, the theatre had come into existence so quickly it may have indeed appeared out of thin air. It was the brainchild of optician Leslie Evershed-Martin, who, in just two years, had planned, funded, built,…

Once Upon A Time… a 75th anniversary retrospective of the places we have called ‘home’

By Nichola Court, Archivist 2021 marks the 75th anniversary of West Sussex Record Office [WSRO]. Although we now occupy purpose-built premises in Orchard Street, Chichester, the Record Office has had a number of other homes – not all of which have been very glamorous! Read on to discover more about our former homes… Door plaque…

Stories from the Parish Registers: Black residents of West Sussex

By Alice Millard, Research Assistant As part of West Sussex Record Office's Transatlantic Ties project, and ongoing work surrounding intersectionality in the archive, a survey of the county's parish registers for individuals of African, Asian, and Caribbean heritage is underway. London Metropolitan Archives undertook a similar project which began in 2000, the results of which…

Colour photograph of five jars of Shippam's spread (chicken, salmon, sardine, crab, beef).

The Story of Shippam’s: so much more than paste!

By Nichola Court, Archivist Shippams 4/1/2, export price list (c1900) Acc 16974, advertisement for Shippam's meat and fish pastes (c1955) One of our county’s best loved brands, Shippam’s enjoyed international fame thanks to its immensely popular, high quality potted meat and fish pastes. However, Shippam’s pastes were only a small part of its business and…

West Sussex Unwrapped II: Month 6 – Ancient Fairs

What separates a fair from a market? The two terms can be used interchangeably. For the purposes of this blog, markets are a monthly, weekly, or in some larger cities a daily event, dealing in fresh produce from the local area. On the other hand, fairs are traditionally cyclical and annual and tended to target…

West Sussex Unwrapped Week 10: Chichester

We have reached the final week (for now...) of Sussex Unwrapped! It is the turn of Chichester this week, and we thought it would be a great idea to run through the centuries to sum up the history of Chichester as a a market town and cathedral city. Let's see what has changed shall we?…

West Sussex Unwrapped Week 8: Shippam’s

You may know Shippam's as the purveyors of meat and fish pastes which are sold in supermarkets to this day. They carry a strong nostalgic connection to those who grew up enjoying their products. The company has always had very close ties with Chichester, and had brilliant marketing to help them dominate the market. This…

The Pie Powder Court of Chichester: Dusty feet and quick justice

By Abigail Hartley, Searchroom Archivist Happy Pi Day! As always with these sorts of events, I was looking for something innocuous to post for this fun little hashtag holiday, and ended up tumbling down the rabbit hole of something only marginally related to what I set out to do. Instead of a photo or two…

Historic records and architectural histories: Printed sources and Chichester Cathedral

By Tim Hudson (guest blogger) What types of historic documents do architectural historians use? Continuing with our guest written series, the once Editor of the Sussex Victoria County History and co author of the updated Pevsner guide to West Sussex, Tim Hudson, will be exploring the types of records used when researching built heritage. Each…