by Alan H J Green

If ever a place was over-endowed with churches it is Chichester : in pre-Reformation times there were no fewer than nine parish churches, three chapels, two friaries and a cathedral, all within its walls of a city only just over half a mile in diameter!

After the Reformation the Cathedral and six of the parish churches survived, and five of these, known as the Little Churches on account of the diminutive sizes of both their buildings and parishes, managed to last into the 20th century despite attempts by Oliver Cromwell in the 17th Century and the Dean of Chichester in the 18th to reduce their numbers.

The picturesquely named St Martin in the Pigmarket had to close in 1903 owing to its being on the verge of collapse, but the others lingered on in ever-straightening circumstances until they were finally amalgamated with St Peter the Great in 1953, creating a single parish for the city centre.

One of those Little Churches is St Andrew Oxmarket which had an eventful life before its abandonment was brought about by bombing in 1943, but thirty three years later found a new use as the Oxmarket Gallery and so continues to play an important part in the life of the city.

In this book, which includes many illustrations not previously published, Alan Green explores not only the history and architecture of the Five Little Churches, but also the lives of their people and parishes. St Andrew Oxmarket features on the book’s cover in a specially commissioned watercolour by Rod Funnell.

This book not just church history – it provides a portrait of everyday life in Chichester over three and a half centuries.

It is available at the Oxmarket Gallery, price £10