Toggle menu

New exhibition marks 30th anniversary of Chichester's Livestock Market closure


Chichester's history as a market town is to be commemorated in a new exhibition launching at The Novium Museum this month.

'The Livestock Markets of Chichester' will open at The Novium Museum on Saturday, 24 October, exactly 30 years since the Chichester livestock market closed.

Chichester has been a centre for trade since the Roman period. Livestock sales were held in the streets of Chichester from medieval times onwards. In 1872 Chichester Cattle Market opened near Eastgate Square and livestock sales were transferred there. Market day sales soon grew in importance and by 1900 Chichester Market was described as 'the largest in the South of England'.

It was not until the 1980s that the future of Chichester Cattle Market became uncertain, following a decline in its trade and debate about the future of the market site. The last livestock market in Chichester was held on 24 October 1990.

Drawing on the museum's social history collection, the exhibition and accompanying community engagement project will connect Chichester's history as a market town with the farming landscape of the South Downs. The historical exhibition at The Novium Museum will act as the catalyst to explore contemporary issues highlighted during the Covid-19 pandemic, including resilient food supply chains, sustainable farming and the transient harvesting workforce.

The exhibition and accompanying programme of activities has been made possible thanks to grant funding of £9,904 from the South Downs National Park Authority Covid-19 Recovery Fund, and a £2,843 South East Museums Development and Art Fund Project Recovery Grant. These grants have been designed to support cultural organisations as they try to recover from the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Councillor Roy Briscoe, Cabinet Member for Culture and Community Services at Chichester District Council, said: "So many of us have fond memories of the Chichester Cattle Market before it's closure in 1990, and it is wonderful to be able to remind people of the importance of the livestock industry in the local area through this exhibition at The Novium Museum.

"We are living through unprecedented and uncertain times. Thanks to the South Downs National Park Authority and South East Museums Development Programme, we are able to tell this important local story at a time when reconnecting people and place is more poignant than ever.

"It has been wonderful to welcome so many visitors back to The Novium Museum since we reopened in July, and the level of public support has really demonstrated the value people place on local heritage and culture."

In addition to the exhibition, the grant funding will enable the museum to develop an ambitious community engagement project that will connect local farming communities with a small group of young people (age 16-24) in order to increase knowledge and understanding of food and land management in the South Downs.

In turn, their collaboration will reach far larger audiences through a community-curated exhibition and film on display alongside the new exhibition, and a pop-up display at other venues. These outputs will also be made available on the museum's website.

The project will also include a series of webinars, virtual outreach sessions for care homes, a city-wide family trail and children's activity backpacks to be used within the museum. They will also fund the development of a virtual element, including a film.

Admission to the exhibition and to The Novium Museum is free, with donations gratefully accepted. Booking in advance is essential.

For more information about visiting The Novium Museum, including the social distancing and safety measures in place, and to book, visit  or call 01243 775888.


Notes to Editors


About The South Downs National Park Authority:

The South Downs National Park Authority (opens new window) (SDNPA) is responsible for keeping the South Downs a special place. They work hard to support the villages and towns in and around the National Park to enhance the vital role they play as social and economic hubs.

About The South East Museums Development Programme:

The South East Museums Development Programme (opens new window) is part of a larger network of Museum Development providers supported by Arts Council England, designed to support diverse, inclusive and innovative museums that welcome people from all backgrounds.