One of the largest towns and the biggest seaside resort in West Sussex, Worthing was once no more than a little fishing village. The colourful inshore fishing boats can still be seen pulled up on the beach where the fishermen sell their catches of fresh cod and Dover sole.
The Early Settlers
Worthing has, however, been settled far earlier. New Stone Age Tools such as axes have been found in the town centre, which date from 3000 years BC, as have implements from the Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman eras. Worthing is also mentioned in the Domesday Book, having been called Ordinges at the time. The change of name to Worthing took several centuries, with the town being called Wurddingg and Werthing in the process.
As with other towns along the coast such as Brighton and Eastbourne, royal patronage started Worthing's expansion; it was the younger sister of Prince Regent who came here. Unlike the Prince who created a fantastic social scene wherever he went, Princess Amelia preferred the quiet life, as did her mother Queen Charlotte, her sister-in-law Queen Caroline, Queen Adelaide and the other family members she brought with her. Worthing is therefore a much more relaxed and gentle place than, say, Brighton; as a result Oscar Wilde came here for three weeks in 1894 and wrote 'The Importance of Being Earnest' while on holiday.
The coming of the railway made it much easier for people to follow the Royal Family and
Worthing turned into a boomtown. Holidaying families from all over the country were attracted to the warm climate, beaches, bathing in the sea and South Downs. The small terraces of fishermen's cottages with their 'boat porches' were supplemented with vast numbers of Victorian structures; some of the more significant buildings include the library and the Town Hall, which date from the early twentieth century.
Many of the visitors liked it here so much that they decided to settle and companies built everything from bungalows to villas between Lancing and Ferring in an attempt to keep up with demand. The post-war prosperity fuelled the growth and soon the nearby hamlets of Durrington, Broadwater, Salvington and West Tarring were encroached.
The Town Today
Today, Worthing has around 100,000 permanent residents with holidaymakers bumping the figure up considerably during the summer months. With the sheltered climate provided by the South Downs in the north, one of the best shopping areas in West Sussex, three theatres, two cinemas and plenty of places to eat and drink there is always something to see and do.
But what if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the town? Then why not simply go for a stroll along the five-mile promenade with its Victorian lights, relax on the beach with its Seaside Award for cleanliness, enjoy one of the many gardens or even go fishing off the end of the pier.