HUNDREDS flocked to Chichester Cathedral for a weekend of celebration and to say farewell to the dean.
Chichester City Council bestowed the Freedom of the City on the Very Rev Nicholas Frayling on Saturday.
“It is a very great honour you have bestowed on me this afternoon and it is difficult for me to express my gratitude,” said the dean.
He said the honour came ‘as a very great surprise’ and spoke of his ‘privileged’ friendship with mayors, councillors and officers at the city council.
Councillor John Rankin, of the city council, outlined the reasons why the dean was given the honour.
“The relationship between the cathedral and the city council has never been closer,” he said.
He said historically, the relationship was not always so harmonious, but the dean had ‘built bridges’ between the two institutions.
The Freedom of the City is an historical honour given to those who have ‘rendered eminent services to the city’.
Although it gives no special rights to the ‘freeman’, it is the highest honour the city council can bestow.
On Sunday, a farewell evensong was held, to mark the retirement of the dean.
He has been dean of Chichester since September 2002, and will retire at the end of this month.
The bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner, attended, as did the lord lieutenant, Susan Pyper.
There were also members from Chichester’s ‘twinned’ cities – Chartres, in France and Ravenna, in Italy.
Speakers paid tribute to the dean and spoke of his work in the community over the years.
Dr Warner said the dean had made people all over Sussex ‘feel that the cathedral is theirs’.
“It falls on me, on their behalf, to say thank you,” said Dr Warner.
“I hope you have been assured of the affection and esteem in which you’re held by the people you served.”
The cathedral’s head doorkeeper, Jeremy Mudford, said: “You have made a mark here in Chichester, which will be recognised for many years to come.”
The dean received a card from the choristers which said ‘these stones will never forget you’ – something he had told outgoing choristers over the years.
He was also presented with a telescope, as a farewell gift.