The Home of Rolls-Royce recently played host to a spectacular evening of music and conversation, in support of the Chichester Cathedral Roof Restoration Appeal.
Attended by 150 patrons and supporters, the exclusive, ticket-only event began with Champagne and canapés, followed by an interview with Rachel Portman OBE, one of Britain’s most celebrated and prolific composers of film music. Her numerous credits include Emma, starring Gwyneth Paltrow, for which she won an Oscar in 1996, and her Academy Award nominated scores for Chocolat and The Cider House Rules. In 2015, she received an Emmy for her work on HBO’s record-breaking TV movie Bessie, a biography of blues singer Bessie Smith.
Interviewed by Julian Biggs, Chichester Cathedral Trustee, Rachel gave guests a fascinating insight into her life, work and inspiration, and the extraordinary challenges and rewards of a vital but often overlooked aspect of movie-making. A highlight of the evening was a live performance of Rachel’s choral work from the Chichester Cathedral Choir, under Organist and Master of the Choristers, Charles Harrison.
The evening concluded with a silent auction: continuing the Hollywood theme, participants submitted their donations in gold envelopes mimicking those used at the Oscars ceremony. Rolls‑Royce supported the fundraising efforts by donating a truly unique lot, with the highest bidder securing a chauffeured Phantom ride and VIP tour of the Home of Rolls-Royce.
The evening raised crucial funds for the restoration and re-covering of the Chichester Cathedral High Roofs. Dating from the 13th Century, it is an extremely rare example of an original medieval timber roof and of national architectural importance. Despite constant repairs and maintenance, failures in the copper covering have allowed rainwater to penetrate the roof vault, damaging the timber, masonry and ceiling plasterwork.
A full restoration is now under way: the project is scheduled to last five years and cost around £6 million, all of which has to be funded through donations and self-generated income, since the Cathedral receives no automatic statutory support.
Andrew Ball, Head of Corporate Relations, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, said, “Chichester is our ‘local’ Cathedral and a familiar landmark for everyone who works at the Home of Rolls-Royce, so we were delighted to have this opportunity to support the Roof Appeal. Chichester Cathedral represents the apex of art, design, technology and craft of its age. This perfectly matches our philosophy and ambitions as a company, which is to build beautiful, spectacular motor cars that stand the test of time. The master craftspeople we employ at Goodwood today are the successors of those who raised the Cathedral over nine centuries ago.”
“The interview with Rachel Portman was amazing: she is a natural storyteller with a warm and engaging personality, and very humble despite her extraordinary gifts and achievements. We are privileged to welcome many of the world’s leading artists and performers to the Home of Rolls‑Royce, and her visit will live long in the memory.”