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The Novium museum

Located on Tower Street in the centre of Chichester, The Novium has been purpose built to show the remains of a Roman bath house, which are now uncovered for visitors to see for the first time. Previously, they lay preserved under a car park. But the Roman baths are just one of many wow features you will see.

View of The Novium museum from Tower Street

The building has been designed by the award winning Keith Williams Architects, whose projects include the Wexford Opera House in Ireland and The Unicorn Theatre in London. The moment you walk through the glass doors you will be amazed at the space and views provided by the building. The Novium contains about 150,000 artefacts, both on display and in its store.

The remains of the Roman baths fill much of the ground floor gallery, with an audio visual film showing you how they were built and used in Roman times. The bath house would have been used as a meeting place, to engage in leisure activities and perhaps also to talk business. It would have been an active and noisy place, full of chatter and gossip, where games might be played, books read and beauty treatments enjoyed.
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Many of its visitors would have hired slaves to look after their belongings, and even at that time there were complaints about noise, as one Roman letter tells us. There are also glass cases around the baths containing objects that were found at the site.

Chilgrove Mosaic

The museum is also home to the Chilgrove Mosaic, which dates back to the fourth century, and was discovered at Chilgrove Roman Villa. Moving the mosaic to the museum from Fishbourne Roman Palace, where it was previously on display, has been a major task. This involved on-site work at Fishbourne to stabilise it prior to removal, customised crating and moving by specialists. It was no easy task, as one of the sections alone weighed nearly 500kg and there were four pieces in total!

Jupiter Stone

Another key exhibit is the Jupiter Stone. This has also been painstakingly conserved and rebuilt to take a prime position in the museum. It is a portion of Roman sculpture base, which has been dated from anywhere between the late first and early third century AD. It was dedicated to the Roman god Jupiter and was found during excavations at West Street in 1934.

There is also a Learning Room. This is used for educational sessions, activities and a meeting space. While you are visiting, make time to visit the museum shop with a range of history books, locally produced gifts and many other souvenirs. Or visit our Tourist Information Centre to find out what other exciting attractions can be found in the district. For more information, please contact The Novium.

Did you know?

  • The singer Robbie Williams once donated some old postcards to the museum when he lived in the district.
  • The last time the Municipal Moon lantern - one of our star exhibits dating to around 1600 - was used in a procession was at the opening of the Chichester Festival Theatre in 1962. The lantern was carried behind the Mayor of Chichester when he made official visits at night.
  • The museum's history stretches back to 1831. It moved to its former home at Little London, a disused corn mill, in 1962.
  • Archaeologists working at the site of The Novium back in the 1970s found the remains of the baths, evidence of their decline, and remnants from small-scale Saxon pottery production, medieval housing, a pub, and a school.

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