Rumboldswhyke and how the parish came by its full name

The parish of Rumboldswhyke, known to many simply as the shortened version Whyke, takes its name from its connections to St Rumbold.

The latter part of the name Whyke came to mean a village, or, in the Middle Ages, a village outside a walled city.

The parish is referred to as the ‘town of St Rumbold’ as early as 1262. It is said that pilgrims travelled to the then parish church of St Rumbold’s Church, now known as St Mary’s Church, to visit a shrine where the relics of St Rumbold were supposedly held.

The nave and chancel of St Mary’s Church date to the 11th century. It was refitted with lancet windows, tall narrow windows with an arch at the top, in the early 13th century. Very little alteration took place to the church between the 13th and 19th centuries. It was extended in 1866 but became too small for the growing local population and went out of use in the 20th century.

Junction of Whyke Lane and Cambrai Avenue in 1949

It permanently closed as a church in 1979. In the 1990s, it was taken on by CWA architects and was refurbished for use as their offices in 2000-2002. Since 2012, it has been occupied by HMDW Architects Ltd.

The parish is home to Chichester’s Roman amphitheatre. The amphitheatre was discovered in 1934 and was archaeologically investigated a year later. It was found to have a central arena that had been made by lowering the ground by about 1.2metres, the spare earth and gravel being used to make a large bank around it that supported the wooden seats of the grandstand.

There was a decorative stone wall at the front of the grandstand, between it and the arena, and probably a tall wooden one at the back. Finds indicated that the amphitheatre was constructed in the late 1st century AD. More recent geophysical survey has revealed that it was oval and probably had four entrances that led through the bank to the bottom of the grandstand. It is now a nationally protected Scheduled Monument.

In 1883, the Rev Thomas Brandram granted some church land for the construction of a school. The current school building was opened and dedicated on May 14, 1964. In 1989 and 2007, the school was modernised and extended. In April 2020, West Sussex County Council made recommendations to close Rumboldswhyke C of E Infants, along with one other school near Worthing, from September 2020.

View of the construction work of the Whyke Housing Estate

Local parents, supporters and the local community campaigned to keep the school open and in June 2020, West Sussex County Council confirmed the school would remain open but would be converted into an academy.

The current parish church is St George’s. It was consecrated at a service on September 28, 1901. It was built to serve the growing parish which had developed as a result of the construction of the railway in the area in the mid-1800s.

Originally, St George’s was quite a basic building, however in 1904, following the death of the first Rector Charles Farthing, Dr Ernest Glover oversaw the addition of a vestry in 1909, and porches soon after. In 1947 the original organ, which had come from St Mary’s, was replaced by one from a church in Lyme Regis. A new organ replaced this in 2013.

A number of the roads in the Rumboldswhyke area have a Scottish influence, including Caledonian Road, Clydesdale Avenue and Stirling Road. At the end of the 19th century, a Scotsman named Peter Buchan moved to Chichester. He became a city councillor and started an ironworks in what is now the area of Caledonian Road.

Model of proposed layout of Whyke Housing Estate

At its height, the ironworks consisted of a vast complex of workshops, including railway track for the transportation of the machinery built there. One building does remain – now known as Forum House at the junction of Caledonian Road and Stirling Road.

In the 1930s, a number of new houses were erected by builder Frederick Keates, whose yard was at Franklin Place. Keates first built Cambrai Avenue, then Ormonde Avenue, naming these in memory of his late brother, who died during the First World War.

Later on came Velyn Avenue after his daughter Evelyn, who died in childhood. Finally came Winden Avenue, the name an amalgamation of parts of the names of his other daughter Winifred and her husband Denis. A few years later, in 1946, construction of the Whyke Estate began.