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Re-dedication of the Sailors' Chapel on 'Sea Sunday' (posted 10 July 2017)

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Re-dedication of the Sailors' Chapel on 'Sea Sunday'...

Reredos Sailors' Chapel
The restored Reredos in the Sailors' Chapel

On Sunday 9th July, 'Sea Sunday', the re-dedication of the Sailors' Chapel took place at a special Evensong service in the Cathedral.  The Chapel has been substantially restored and refurbished over the past eighteen months following a generous bequest from the late Mrs Joan Drewett.  Together with a donation from Chichester Cathedral Friends, this money was used to conserve and refurbish the reredos (the ornamental screen behind the altar) returning it to its former glory, and then installing it into the chapel.

The Chapel of St Michael was furnished as a memorial chapel to the Royal Navy and the people of West Sussex who gave their lives at sea in World War II and have no known graves.  It was dedicated by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in July 1956 as 'The Sailors' Chapel'.  The reordering of the chapel has been taking place over several months to allow for the installation of the magnificent 1910 reredos by Somers Clarke to the west wall of the chapel.  The painted wood reredos was removed from behind the High Altar in 1957 and had been in storage in the triforium for several decades.

To make way for the installation of the reredos, the silver bell was moved from its previous location and rehung on the north wall of the chapel.  This bell is from the last HMS Sussex, and was given to the ship by the people of Sussex.  The bell was then donated to the Cathedral for safe-keeping after HMS Sussex was broken up.  There have been four ships named Sussex in the Royal Navy, the first being in 1652, of which there was a model made in 1956 by Mr J Glossop, an official Admiralty model-maker.  This used to hang in the south arch of the chapel but after some extensive restoration was placed in a glass cabinet. But on 23rd November, the model of Sussex was re-hung, this time in the east arch of the chapel.

Organised by the Sailors' Society, 'Sea Sunday' is observed in churches all over Britain and is a service held to highlight the challenges seafarers face everyday. Over 150 people attended the special re-dedication service, guests were invited from a wide seafaring community, including those from the Royal and Merchant Naval Associations, maritime charities, Sea Cadets, yachting and sailing clubs, RNLI and harbour ports.  The re-dedication service affirmed our commitment to pray for all members of the seafaring community and to provide a place in the Cathedral in which they are particularly held in mind.

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