This project will examine the role of Chichester during the First World War as a place of mobilisation, a place for care, charity and recuperation and as a site of remembrance. Through this innovative approach, this project will provide a ‘community history’ of the conflict for the city by demonstrating how the war reached all parts of residents’ lives and still persists through memorials today. Therefore, this study will detail the significance of Chichester during the war. As the location of the headquarters of the Royal Sussex Regiment, the city was at the forefront of operations at the outbreak of the conflict in 1914 as regular soldiers were deployed and local men volunteered for service in the British Army. With the development of the conflict, Chichester was also placed at the centre of the war with the requisition of the Graylingwell Hospital to serve as a military facility for injured soldiers from the front. Whilst soldiers recuperated at the hospital, local residents were involved in a variety of charities to support their treatment and the nation’s wider war effort. At the conclusion of the war, the city was demobilised and the conflict was commemorated in official, religious, community and personal memorials to commemorate the lives lost, the sacrifices made and the services rendered by Chichester and its citizens.
The project will work with the Chichester Community Development Trust to recruit and train volunteers to research and develop the project around its themes:
- Charity and care
The results of the project will be initially disseminated through a series of public talks at the University of Chichester during the spring and summer of 2016 to mark the hundredth anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of the Somme. The main outputs will be:
- A heritage trail available online and through printed leaflets
- Online resource hosted by the University of Chichester
- An exhibition at the University of Chichester
Through these activities the volunteers will develop skills within archive research, documentary analysis, website development and public engagement as well as enhancing their knowledge of Chichester during the Great War. Through this work, a local history of the city at war will be revealed but this past will be demonstrated as possessing wider effects as the conflict gave Chichester a significant role in a global war.
This project is led by Dr Ross Wilson and Dr Maureen Wright of the University of Chichester. For further information please contact Dr Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.