9 things you probably didn't know about Worthing

Worthing Pier in Worthing, West Sussex

Worthing Pier in Worthing, West Sussex - Credit: Mick Baker / Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Worthing is a charming seaside town and district in West Sussex, home to 110,570 Worthingites (2019), but how much do you really know about Worthing? Here are 9 things you may not have known...

1) Legendary Irish writer Oscar Wilde wrote his most famous play, The Importance of Being Earnest, while he stayed in Worthing during the summer of 1894. He must have been enamoured by the seaside town because the protagonist of the play Jack Worthing is named after it. 

Irish Playwright and Novelist Oscar Wilde circa 1882

Oscar Wilde circa 1882 - Credit: Wikimedia (Public Domain)

2) In April 2019, Worthing Pier was named Pier of the Year. The Art Deco pier was built in 1862 and is an icon of the Worthing seafront.

Worthing Pier in Worthing a seaside town in West Sussex

Worthing Pier - Credit: Jonathan Rolande / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

3) Sussex born Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley was set to inherit Goring Castle, but his untimely death due to a boating accident in Italy at 29 meant that his wife Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein, inherited the castle instead.

Castle Goring in Worthing, West Sussex

Castle Goring is a Grade I listed property in the Greco-Palladian and Gothic architectural styles, it was completed in the 1790s and cost the Shelley family £9.54 million (adjusted for inflation) to build. - Credit: Peetred / Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

4) The Midsummer Tree in Broadwater was believed to be the site of some rather creepy antics on Midsummers Eve; according to folklore, skeletons would rise out of the tree's roots and dance around to the sound of their own bones rattling. This nightmarish story was first recorded by folklorist Charlotte Latham in 1868

5) Famous faces born in Worthing include actress Gwendoline Christie best known for her role as Brienne of Tarth in the smash-hit series Game of Thrones, and Mike Kerr, the lead vocalist of Royal Blood.

6) Boat-shaped porches are unique to Worthing. It is believed that fishermen based this architectural feature on the shape of their boats.

Boat Porch Characteristic Architectural Feature of Worthing in West Sussex

Boat Porch - Credit: The Voice of Hassocks / Wikimedia (Public Domain)

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7) Worthing's name comes from old English; it essentially means 'place of Worth's people'. 'Worth/Worō' meant valiant one and was a given name, and the suffix '-ingas' means people of. Like with all place names, it evolved slightly over time to become Worthing. 

8) The English Martyrs Catholic Church has a replication of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel fresco; it was completed at 2/3 scale of the original. Painter Gary Bevans was inspired to paint the ceiling after a pilgrimage to the Sistine Chapel in 1987, and it ultimately took him 5 years to paint it.

The ceiling of English Martyrs Church in Worthing, a beautiful homage to Michelangelo's masterpiece 

The ceiling of English Martyrs Church in Worthing, a beautiful homage to Michelangelo's masterpiece - Credit: Nick Macneill / Geograph (CC BY-SA 2.0)

9) Two upcoming films Vindication Swim and My Policeman, have recently used Worthing as a filming location. Vindication Swim tells the story of Mercedes Gleitze, the first British woman to swim the Channel and stars Brighton actress Kirsten Callaghan in the lead role. My Policeman is based on the bestselling novel by Bethan Roberts. And follows a love triangle between a gay policeman, his wife and another man played by Musician Harry Styles, The Crown star Emma Corrin and David Dawson, respectively. 

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