Siege of Chichester
|Siege of Chichester|
|Part of the English Civil War|
|Commanders and leaders|
|6,000||? (markedly less than the Parliamentarian forces)|
The Siege of Chichester was a victory by Parliamentarian forces led by Colonel William Waller over a small Royalist garrison. The siege was one of the key events in the campaign by Waller to secure the south of England and declare it for Parliament. The siege lasted five days and culminated in a surrender by the Royalist resistance - despite this, Waller's troops proceeded to sack and desecrate Chichester Cathedral.
There was clear disparity between the city and the local religious leadership. When the Archbishop of Canterbury's commissioner, Nathaniel Brent visited the city in 1635, he reported instances of disrespect made towards him. On 16 August 1642, William Cawley, MP for Midhurst issued the 'Valiant Resolution', which declared the city's will to support Parliament, rather than King Charles I's divine right as king. However this was not an official declaration - Mayor of Chichester Robert Exton issued a Royal Commission of Array, which called upon all able-bodied men to take up arms for the king. After Exton fled to the King, his successor William Bartholomew obtained local ordinance from Portsmouth and 200 of the Sussex militia. Governor of Portsmouth Sir William Lewis issued seven guns and ten barrels of powder to the Cicestrian Royalists in November. John Morley drove Cawley and his supporters from the city in mid-November - he was joined by Edward Ford, the High Sheriff of Sussex, who raised a small army.
Waller's forces arrived before Chichester on 21 December and spent the day constructing battering rams. Following approval from Arthur Haselrig, Waller called for the Royalist garrison's surrender through means of parley. After much debate, the garrison refused but did offer to hand over any Roman Catholics within the city walls. The Parliamentarians opened fire on 22 December.
- V.C.H. Suss. ii, 33.
- A. Ballard, History of Chichester (Moore and Wingham, 2nd ed. 1929) p.66
- Godwin, George Nelson (1882). The Civil War in Hampshire (1642–45) and the Story of Basing House. London: Elliot Stock.
- D. Frampton (c. 1996). The Siege of Chichester. Academic Artisan.
- Victorian County History: Sussex. vol. ii
- The Arc The Civil War and Seventeenth Century Chichester. 1999. Chichester District Museum.