Free admission to a lovingly tended and delightful large city-centre garden – that is the Bishop’s Gift to Chichester, not that the city is short of delights. We visited twice, and could have gone several more times had we not been on a short break.
From the central pedestrian area the cathedral is an obvious landmark. There are ways in from the cathedral green or by the arch into Cathedral Close. The latter allows views of other gardens as you walk towards an inner gate, with ever-changing glimpses of the cathedral. It is tempting to turn into the cloister and visit the cathedral itself, well worth doing as we found on a previous occasion. The gardens are the big draw, however.
Almost the first attraction is a Dicksonia, just unfurling in later April. It stands at the beginning of a long border, large enough for many a private garden but here an introduction to the delights beyond. Bluebells abound with daffodils still in bloom and the first tulips as punctuation. They would be the commas to the semi-colons and full stops of a variety of shrubs and trees. There are also the asides as paths turn and steps rise. Walls and hedges prepare for other surprises.
The main garden allows for – and was enthusiastically used by – families, small children set free by mothers, and one father dutifully pushing a baby while checking his phone at intervals. Teenagers strolled through, enjoying the last days of Easter holiday in the sun. It was hard to accept this was only the beginning of spring, so warm was the weather.
Large areas of grass surrounded beds and trees, and there was always the sight of mellow walls with aspects of the cathedral above and beyond. The Roman wall encloses the garden along two sides, with steps up for a new angle. Total peace inside; busy roads outside. It is an Eden for as many as care to enter, and who would wish to leave?