Did you know? Six historical facts about Worthing

Six historical facts about Worthing…

  • Worthing was a hotbed of smuggling in the 1800s – one large haul of illegal goods was even landed on what is today the Steyne.
  • The George Inn, which was demolished to build the Guildbourne Centre in 1969 was also once used as the town hall before the actual first town hall was built. It was said to have a smugglers’ tunnel down to the sea.
  • Jane Austen, Oscar Wilde and Harold Pinter have all stayed in the town and written some of their work whilst here.
  • Worthing has hidden WW2 air raid shelters buried under the grass on the Steyne. There are deserted unused toilets below the promenade facing the pier that have been sealed off for years – vehicles aren’t allowed on the prom above them as it isn’t strong enough to take the weight and the passengers might find themselves in these spooky toilets!
  • Worthing once stretched out much further to the south than it does now – houses and possibly a chapel existed where the beach now is and cricket was once played on grass as far out to sea as the south end of the pier in the 1700s.
  • 11 of the town’s fishermen perished when trying to rescue the crew of a stricken boat, the Lalla Rookh in one of the 19th Century’s worst storms of 1850. They became national heroes and Queen Victoria even contributed £50 to a fund for their families. Worthing ended up getting the first of its three lifeboat houses as a result of the disaster.

Kevin Newman – All Inclusive History, available for local area history tours – T: 07504 863 867 – E:info@allinclusivehistory.org

Discover more about Worthing's history...

Worthing Heritage Trails

A series of walking heritage trails in and around Worthing available for purchase from Worthing Museum & Art Gallery

Jane Austen

Towards the end of 1805 Jane Austen spent time at Stanford’s Cottage in Warwick Street. In 1817, the year of her death, she then used Worthing as the background for her final unfinished novel, Sanditon.

Sistine Chapel reproduction @ the English Martyrs Church

From the outside the exterior of English Martyrs Church may look ordinary but step inside, look up and you will see it is anything but... Ta daa - The only known reproduction of the Sistine Chapel Ceiling in the world

Oscar Wilde

In the summer of 1894 Oscar Wilde moved to Worthing and during his residence penned The Importance of Being Ernest - naming character Jack Worthing in its honour.

High Salvington Windmill

High Salvington Windmill is a fully restored Grade II listed windmill, which dates from around 1750. The windmill gives an excellent opportunity for kids (and adults) to get an insight into the past, learn about old machinery and local history as well as the restoration process.

Worthing Pier

Worthing Pier, runner up in the 2016 & 2017 Pier of the Year Award, provides an iconic focus for the town. You can view amazing artworks, promenade above the waves, try your hand at fishing, enjoy an ice-cream whilst relaxing in the deckchairs or sample other treats at the Art Deco Southern Pavilion.