The Sussex holiday cottage blog » Roman Holiday
A luxury home was discovered underneath Chichester recently. But this was no controversial basement dig - it's a prestigious villa, with its own bath-house, dating from the heyday of the Roman town Noviomagus Reginorum, which we call Chichester. It's the equivalent of a multi-million pound townhouse and would probably have been owned by a successful merchant, or perhaps a member of the aristocracy who couldn't quite afford a country estate.
It's a really exciting find, and archaeologists put the building's survival - and, indeed, another Roman house found next to it - down to its location under Priory Park, where the land has been relatively undisturbed. To find Roman remains of this quality in a city setting is very rare. The private bath suite would have been small, but very plush. It had a hot-room with a hypocaust running under it to take hot gases from the household fire under the floor and up through flues in the walls. There would probably have been a series of rooms kept at different temperatures, plus a changing room and a plunge bath.
Archaeologists believe these two houses would have been on a street that hasn't survived. Scans have also revealed another Roman street under Priory Park, but they don't plan to uncover that one. And this luxury villa will not become a permanent visitor attraction - sadly they'll be covering it all up again, but displays and information will be on show at The Novium, which also contains the visible remains of Chichester's main Roman bath house (pictured).
Roman history is a key attraction of Chichester and nearby Fishbourne, but there's so much more going on and it's a delightful, gentle yet cosmopolitan little city - a great base for a holiday or weekend break. We have a fabulous selection of holiday lets around Chichester. With the sea and the South Downs just a stroll away you really can have the best of both worlds - a city break with plenty of escapes, or a country or seaside break with the chance to visit this historic city.