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© A White 2011
A Short History of Bognor Regis Bognor is one of the oldest Saxon sites on record in West Sussex. The town is recorded in AD 680 as Bucgan ora meaning Bucge's shore. Bucge was one of the few Saxon women to have a place named after her. Over the years this Saxon- landing place became a small fishing village, and as with many places the name changed with time. In 1275 it was recorded as Buggenore and in 1405 as Bogenor. Very little remains of Bognor's ancient history. A Roman farmstead was discovered in Felpham in 1965 and in the mid-seventies an Iron Age settlement was uncovered during construction work. At the end of the 18th Century in 1785 Sir Richard Hotham began his grand scheme to create a select up market resort of Hothampton on the site of a small fishing village called Bognor when he purchased 1,600 acres of land for development. Building began in 1787. Hotham hoped George III would visit his new town Hothampton Crescent, known locally as "the Dome" was built specifically for his use. Alas he never came; the only member of the Royal family to frequent the town was Princess Charlotte (daughter of King George IV). The Dome now part of Bognor Regis College. The small dome from which the building gets its name can be seen in the picture Hotham House built in 1792 by Sir Richard as his private residence is still regarded by many as the best Georgian house in Sussex. Sir Richard died on 13th March 1799 and was buried at nearby South Bersted. Although his dreams were only partially realised Sir Richard had created a thriving seaside resort, Bognor was the very first English resort specially developed for bathing. In 1753 a Dr Richard Russell published a book titled "A Dissertation on the Use of sea-water in the Diseases of the Glands". The fashionable upper and middle classes flocked to the south coast to bathe in the rejuvenating salt water. The bathhouse, no. 9 Steyne Gardens was built in 1824 and was used by the more up market visitors to Bognor. The sea baths were situated in the basement of the house. "Hot baths cost 2 shillings, Warm baths 1 shilling and sixpence, Cold baths 1 shilling". Those not so well positioned in society could have hot seawater delivered to their rooms at 4 pence a bucket. Once established Bognor's growth was quite rapid, the population of Bognor in 1801 was 700; by 1831 this had grown to 3000. On 1st June 1864 the Barnham to Bognor branch line opened, the railway had finally reached Bognor, many thought this would change the town forever but it simply didn't happen. Bognor remained a rural town run by and for the landed gentry and upper middle classes that came here for their health and relaxation, just as Sir Richard Hotham had intended. The station we see today was completed in1902; the previous stations had burnt down. There was great controversy in 1907 when the Railway Company broke its agreement with the town authorities and started encouraging day-trippers to Bognor. Many believe that was when the town started its slow decline. In 1910/11 the population of Bognor was 2000, in summer this was boosted by 5000 day trippers. In 1928 King George V came to Bognor to convalesce after a serious illness. Although he actually stayed at Craigweil in nearby Aldwick, Bognor was given the title "Regis" (of the King) in 1929. Despite the Kings now famous remark "Bugger Bognor" the Royal Family in fact liked the town, Queen Victoria referred to the town as "dear little Bognor". Here are a few of the many Blue Plaques that can be found in Bognor, a map of where to find these plaques is on display at the Bognor Regis Museum. For those that like to know these things, Bognor is the setting for Jane Austen's "Sandition".
Blue Plaques Early map of the original town plan, Bognor Regis. The Dome, Bognor Regis. The Bathe House, Bognor Regis. The first train to leave Barnham for the new Bognor Regis Station. Craigweil House. Blue plaque, James Joyce. Blue Plaque, William Blake Blue plaque, Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
A 1950s Holiday in Bognor Regis Sylvia Endacott & Shirley Lewis Recollections of one of Britain's favourite seaside holiday destinations Do you remember dancing at the Rex Ballroom, eating ice-cream from Maori's, marvelling at the monkeys and lions at the zoo, donkey rides and deckchairs on the beach? The 1950s was a period of rapid change for the average Briton. Following the austerity of war and the end of rationing, people started to think of holidays again. For many, the seaside was the perfect destination and Bognor Regis, with its sandy beaches, boarding houses and endless entertainments, was popular, accessible, and affordable. This book describes how people travelled, where they stayed, what they ate, and how they spent their days - all so different to the modern holiday. An evocative look at the heyday of the British seaside holiday. Interviews with people who remember their childhood holidays in Bognor Regis and with local residents who recall the holiday season in their home town. Illustrated with a range of fabulous family photos, postcards, leaflets and advertisements. Sylvia Endacott is a regular speaker on local history in West Sussex. She has written several books including Butlin's 50 years of Fun which she wrote with Shirley Lewis. Shirley Lewis has been involved in local history research and exhibitions for many years. She and Sylvia live in Bognor Regis.
Listed Buildings Gallery Museum Glimpses of Bognor Regis Pier
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Sussex by the Sea by Conor Shipsey This marching song was composed in South Bersted in 1907 by William Ward Higgs, a solicitor from Birkenhead who had spent much of his working life in London, but then moved to live for a number of years in Hollywood House in South Bersted.  The jaunty rhythm drew inspiration from Kipling, and was adopted by the Royal Sussex regiment as its unofficial anthem and popularised as a marching song during the First World War. Since then, the lyrics have been adapted and adopted for a number of different purposes: as sporting anthems (Brighton and Hove Albion, Sussex County Cricket Club); being turned into a protest song in 1939, (forming part of the Sussex Peoples March of History.). In the past fifty years, its popularity has remained undimmed. The name Sussex by the Sea is now used as the official tourism site for Bognor Regis, and many local music bands continue to use the song to this day it as their unofficial anthem. William Ward Higgs, died in tragic circumstances, by taking his own life  at the age of 70 in 1936.  A grave commemorates his life in South Bersted. But his ashes are kept in South Norwood crematorium. The song  in its entirety is too long to reproduce here. A flavour of the lyrics (the fifth verse) can be found below. Far o'er the seas we wander,         Wide thro’ the world we roam;     Far from the kind hearts yonder,         Far from our dear old home;     But ne'er shall we forget, my boys,         And true we'll ever be     To the girls so kind that we left behind         In Sussex by the Sea.
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Bognor Pier Trust Invites you to join ‘Friends of Bognor Regis Pier’, and help bring back The Pier into community ownership. Who are the Bognor Pier Trust? We are a group of like-minded people with one thing in common - we all want to improve our town in general and the Pier in particular. We are all dedicated to really making this happen and we need YOUR support. What are the aims of the Trust? To prevent any further loss or damage to the Pier's structure, and eventually restore it to what it once was; a thriving and bustling attraction at the heart of our town. We aim to work with the current owner to bring the Pier back into community ownership. How will we raise the money? It won't happen overnight... as well as fundraising events and opportunities, we will be eligible to apply for major grants. We want to work in partnership with Local Authorities and Businesses. We have made a great start now that the Mayor of Bognor Regis, Councillor Paul Wells has chosen the Pier Trust as the organisation that he will be supporting for his year in office and will donate all proceeds of his events to the cause! How can you help? You can be a part of this and help us achieve our aims by becoming a Friend of Bognor Regis Pier. You'll receive a regular email newsletter and invitations to exciting fundraising events! We will be offering some unique opportunities for sponsorship for both Businesses and individuals. We are also looking for people to join our band of volunteers; so if you would like tohelp with fundraising or events, we would be very happy to hear from you! FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT info@bognorpiertrust.org.uk
Bognor Regis Pier today View of the pier theatre. View of the pier.