Celebrations as Chichester’s Priory Park marks a special 100 years

Priory Park, Chichester
Priory Park, Chichester

Two weeks of fun, music and remembrance is taking place at Chichester’s Priory Park to celebrate a special centenary.

The Priory Park 100 celebrations will feature a wide range of events and activities from September 22-30, all part of commemorating the park’s past and encouraging people to re-engage with its present.

100 years ago this September the Park was given by the 7th Duke of Richmond and Gordon to the people of the city, for their leisure and as a perpetual memorial to the fallen in the First World War. Both aspects will be marked in a ten-day programme, starting with a jazz and blues opening night party and culminating in a special drum head service.

Highlights include a parachute jump by RN Raiders, a re-enactment of the 1642 Siege of Chichester, a display of vintage Rolls Royces, a record-breaking attempt at the world’s biggest teddy bears’ picnic and vintage bowls and hockey and cricket matches.

Among the highlights will be the Priory Park Centenary Cricket Match between Sussex CCC and a special Duke of Richmond’s IX from 11.30am on Saturday, September 29.

Evening events will include sky-watching with the South Downs Planetarium and also the world premiere of Chichester Community Theatre’s new play The Hawkhurst Gang by Chichester playwright Greg Mosse in the Guildhall.

Chairman of the Friends of Priory Park Richard Plowman said: “Priory Park is a rather special place right in the centre of the city. It has got a huge history from the Romans right the way through to the modern day, and we thought it was appropriate to celebrate it in a big way and also get the community to re-engage with it, with what we think of as the village green of Chichester!

“We have tried to put on events that relate back to the events that happened here. The park was very important during the Civil War. The Royalists were based there and it was attacked several times, so we are bringing along the Sealed Knot who will re-enact the siege.

“And of course, we also have the Guildhall which was a town hall. We brought back mayor-making to it this year for the first time since 1834. But it was also used as a court room. One of the most famous trials there was William Blake, but it was also the place for the trial of the Hawkhurst Gang, and we have got a special play by Greg Mosse which will re-enact that trial in the actual building it happened in.”

The festival will conclude on Sunday, September 30 with a poignant tribute to the 350 men of Chichester who gave their lives in the First World War. A drum head service will take place in the morning including the 100 choir, conducted by Emily Barden, and a waterfall of poppies, made by local schoolchildren, down the Park’s mound.

The highlights of Priory Park 100:

Friday, September 21 2018

Launch Party with Jazz in the Little Big Top, 6.30pm-10.30 pm. Live music from 6pm

Saturday, September 22 2018

Poppy display building on the Mound from 9am

Opening Ceremony at 11am

Chichester Day Hands around the Park with local organisations from 11.30am

Art in Action 10am-4pm at the Guildhall. Local artists and crafts people demonstrate their work, some on a WW1 theme

Parachute Jump at 2pm

Live music from 4pm

Sunday, September 23 2018

Sealed Knot exercises and camp activities 11am

Art in Action 10am-4pm at the Guildhall.

Siege of 1642 at 2pm: re-enactment of the Siege of Chichester with Sir Marmaduke Rawdon’s Regiment of Foote

Live music from 4pm

Monday, September 24 2018

Morning sessions of Edwardian Bowls at 11am

Afternoon Session of Edwardian Bowls at 2pm

Tuesday, September 25 2018

Astronomy in the Park at 2pm

‘Get Vocal’ Community Choir conducted by Josephine Allum at 6.30pm

Astronomy in the Park Night Sky at 9pm

Wednesday,September 26 2018

Vintage Hockey at 2pm

The Hawkhurst Gang (Play) at 7.30pm

Thursday, September 27 2018

Rolls Royce Car parade at 11 am

Rolls Royce Car Static Display 11am-4 pm

The Hawkhurst Gang (Play) at 7.30pm

Friday,September 28 2018

Board War Games in the Guildhall 11am

Chichester’s Biggest Teddy Bear Picnic at 3.30pm

Saturday,September 29 2018

Priory Park Centenery Cricket Match between Sussex CCC and the a special Duke of Richmond’s 1X from 11.30am

The Hawkhurst Gang (Play) at 3pm

The Hawkhurst Gang (Play) at 7.30pm

Sunday, September 30 2018

Drum Head Service at 11.30am

Carrier Pigeon Release at midday

The 100 Choir conducted by Emily Barden

Unveiling of Restored Plaque at 12.15pm

Evensong and Blessing of the Park at 3pm at the Guildhall

For more information visit: priorypark100.com/

See our video interview with Richard Plowman: https://www.chichester.co.uk/whats-on/arts/video-chichester-s-priory-park-100-starts-this-week-1-8639963