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Civil War

by Lorna Still

Exterior view of Cawley Almshouse

Written by Lorna Still, volunteer at the Novium Museum

Chichester does not feature largely in accounts of the English Civil War, but there are some very interesting connections nonetheless.

William Juxon was born in 1582 and baptised in the Parish of St Peter the Great, which was then in the north transept of Chichester Cathedral. He attended the Prebendal School, the Merchant Taylor's School and St John's College, Oxford, where he studied Law and then Theology. In 1633, he was Bishop of London and by 1636 also Lord High Treasurer. He advised Charles I during the Civil War, and Charles called him 'that Good Man'. As Chaplain to King Charles, Juxon was the only priest with him at the scaffold, telling him, 'You are exchanged from a temporal to an eternal crown, a good exchange'. Juxon was deprived of his bishopric in 1649 and retired to Gloucestershire, where he became known for the quality of his hunting dogs. At the Restoration of Charles II he was named Archbishop of Canterbury and, though weak and infirm, he officiated at the coronation, placing the crown on the King's head. He died on 4th June 1663. He did not forget Chichester, leaving in his will £100 for the poor in the parish of his birth.

William Cawley was born in 1602, the son of a wealthy brewer. William also went to the Prebendal School before going on to Oxford and Gray's Inn. Following his father's wishes, he founded St Bartholomew's Hospital in Broyle Road for the 'residence and maintenance of 12 decayed tradesmen of Chichester'. He was elected MP for Chichester in 1628 and for Midhurst in 1640. During the Civil War, the Cathedral clergy and most of the local gentry supported the king, while most merchants and residents favoured Parliament. On 24th August 1642, Cawley declared Chichester to be for Parliament, but fled to Portsmouth when the Royalists seized the city. However, he later wrote a letter explaining the situation, which resulted in Sir William Waller's Parliamentary force being sent to recapture Chichester. Waller arrived outside the walls on 21st December 1642 and besieged the city, using the Cawley almshouses and mounting cannon on the roof of St Pancras Church. The Royalists surrendered on 27th December and Waller's soldiers plundered the Cathedral. Troops were garrisoned in Chichester for four years. Waller, who had taken other places in the South, including Arundel Castle, was nicknamed 'William the Conqueror'. It is interesting to note that he later supported the restoration of Charles II.

Cawley was appointed to the High Court of Justice and was one of the 59 people who signed Charles I's death warrant. During the Commonwealth, he was active on parliamentary committees and enthusiastically seized and sold the property of Royalists. At the Restoration, he fled to Belgium and then to Vevey in Switzerland, where he died in 1666. He had always wanted to be buried in the chapel of the almshouse he had founded. In the 19th century, a lead case with a male skeleton was found in a vault under the floor of this chapel. It is believed that this could be Cawley's body, secretly smuggled home.

A portrait of William Cawley can be seen at the Council House, and a memorial to him and his father at the cathedral (moved from St Andrew's, Oxmarket). The almshouse chapel still stands in Broyle Road.