See how Worthing town centre has changed since the birth of the town 220 years ago

Worthing became a town in 1803, developing from a fishing hamlet, thanks in part to Princess Amelia making it fashionable. We were interested in what was there in the early days and what still remains 220 years later. Worthing Museum has an extensive collection of objects and images covering the history of the town and one of the most fascinating is a diorama of Worthing in 1815, modelled by Ronald M. Windle on surviving records – a useful source for comparison.

We noticed that some significant buildings have totally vanished in today's landscape but some are still there. Some remain as prominent today as they did 208 years ago and some stand fast, tucked between more modern additions to Worthing. St Paul's Church, now The Venue, in Chapel Road, stands out as an example. It was opened in 1812 as Worthing Chapel of Ease, at that time when Worthing was being developed into a town. Alongside it is Ambrose Place, where the Regency houses were just being built by Ambrose Cartwright. Portland Road is another fascinating example. It used to run south to the sea but is now cut off completely by Marks & Spencer. Some of those buildings from the early days, however, are now Grade II listed to preserve them.

The high street in most towns is where you find the shops but not in Worthing – though High Street, as it is still named, was once the main street. It is interesting to see the changes along Warwick Street and to note how Stanford’s Cottage once had a clear view to the sea but is now surrounded by buildings. Further west, buildings from the early 19th century in Bath Place and Montague Place are also Grade II listed and you can easily compare them to the models on the diorama.

Worthing Museum, in Chapel Road, is free to visit. It is open Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 10am to 5pm, Thursday 10am to 8pm, and Sunday 11am to 3pm. Visit for more information.

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