Mayor of Chartres Jean-Pierre Gorges visited Chichester today to celebrate 60 years since the two cities twinned.
On February 28, 1959, a ‘Deed of Jumelage’ between Chartres (France) and Chichester was signed in Chichester’s Council Chamber by the mayors of both cities at the time — J. Pichard Mayor and C.Newell. The ‘Deed of Jumelage’ is displayed in the Chichester Council House and close links have been maintained between the cities ever since.
This morning, 60 years on, Mayor Gorges was first given a tour of the solar farm at Westhampnett before being taken on a tour of the West Sussex Record Office, viewing the rare Sussex copy of the American Declaration of Independence.
Chichester mayor Martyn Bell and Jean-Pierre Gorges also signed a reaffirmation document to renew the twinning arrangement.
Speaking to the Observer via a translator, mayor Gorges said: "It's a part of Europe and our past. It is from 1959 to this day, so 60 years since the twinning and that shows it is a strong relationship. It can last a long time and maybe forever.
"We first came through Brighton last night and then we came to Chichester to meet the district and city council. We have also visited the solar farm which was very interesting.
"We have seen a piece of history in this document and I found it very impressive. It's a masterpiece of history and it brings a lot of emotion."
Having also been part of today's tour, West Sussex County Council leader Louise Goldsmith said: "It is a great opportunity for us in West Sussex to demonstrate some of the amazing things that we have here.
"We are very proud of our records office because it plays a really important role in learning about our history. Twinning is sharing and learning from each other."
Mayor Martyn Bell said he was 'delighted that we have not only the records office but the solar farm as well'.
He added: "I was so impressed by the solar farm. It is marvellous. It is powering 2,500 homes already. The American Declaration of Independence is also very fascinating.
"Whatever happens on the Brexit front, the friendship between Chichester and Chartres is so important and maybe even more important."
Prince Harry and Meghan also were shown the American Declaration of Independence on their visit to Chichester in October last year. Read more here