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.