You are here: > Home > St Richard's

The Story of St Richard's

This tour has been updated to include changes to our present church.

The story of St Richardís church at Chichester began in 1855 with a remarkable donation from two domestic servants, Mary and Anne Henshaw, who saved from their meagre wages and provided funds to build a small Victorian Gothic church which served until 1958. The land was donated by Anne, Countess of Newburgh. She was a fervent Catholic at Slindon, whose wide ranging family, the Ratcliffes, had been active in the Catholic church in England even during penal times. She left endowments in her will to provide a site for the new church at Chichester, which held 160 worshippers.

A tradition of self help was established by hundreds of parishioners - and with subscribers who were not Catholics, raising money through a successful football pool to build the present church, opened in 1958. The architect's model aroused great interest in London, and building is shown underway in the photo from the West Sussex Record Office Chichester Photographic collection.

It was simply constructed - a plain shell, but in the 1960's it was provided with fine art, and a unique set of stained glass panels from Chartres. In 2008 the Parish Priest, Father Kieron O'Brien, with the Development Committee, reduced the size of the the sanctuary, which provided more seating space, and moved the font to a more prominent location, just off the Sanctuary, where the nave meets the north transept, in accordance with recent liturgical criteria.

A new ambo was installed in October 2010, replacing the two wooden reading desks. This also accords with new rules that there should be only one ambo, from which all readings from the Scriptures should be proclaimed. (See explanatory footnote).

The Font was designed by David O'Connell. It is of white Portland Stone set in a slate gold glass mosaic and white Sicilian marble.

The high altar is of Tino green marble - flanked with steps in Belgian black fossil marble. The church seats 350 and the congregations are growing!

The Blessed Sacrament is reserved in a chapel once dedicated to Our Lady of Walsingham. The altar, also designed by David O'Connell, is flanked by his paintings of six archangels. The candlesticks were designed and made locally on the theme of a lily of Mary's virginity.

Moving the font created space in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, to provide a reconciliation room, built in accordance with child protection guidelines. Fr Kieron commissioned Majella Taylor, a parishioner and glass designer, with assistance from Antony Watts and colleagues, to engrave the glass to complement the surrounding coloured Loire glass.

Our Lady of Walsingham's statue is now placed at the corner of the chapel, with the other statues and icon. The altar lamp was also engraved by Majella Taylor.

The statues on either side of the sanctuary are from the old church - the Sacred Heart and St Anthony of Padua.

Note regarding the Ambo on the high altar

Keith McNally (Project Manager) notes that "the new rules stipulate that there should be only one ambo in the church, and all readings from the Scriptures, including the psalm whenever possible, should be proclaimed from it. Where a church has two fixed lecterns as once required in the Roman Rite, only one of these should be used as an ambo, for the proclamation of the Word. The other might be used for announcements or by the cantor." The document governing spatial design in our churches was published in 2006 at the behest of the Catholic Bishops' Conference for England and Wales: "Consecrated forWorship - a directory on church building" published by the Catholic Truth Society.

You can see how the Alterations were carried out

Read the description of the Loire stained glass panels