Bognor Regis is one of the oldest Saxon sites recorded in West Sussex and has had many names over time including Bucgan, Buggenore and Bogenor!
The most famous person of Bognor Regis’ history is Sir Richard Hotham whose dream was to create a popular seaside resort, similar to Brighton. His aim was to attract royalty and the rich as in those days, this was considered a great honour and success for the resort. Sir Richard aimed to call his resort Hothampton, but unfortunately this name did not catch on.
He purchased over 1600 acres of land in order to create his ideal seaside town. Building began in 1787, when Sir Richard laid the first foundation stone on the 18th January. This date is celebrated every year by the placing of a wreath on the grave of Sir Richard Hotham to celebrate his achievements. Buildings were quickly established with the erection of the famous Hotham Park House, along with the Dome in 1792.
Although the first foundation stone is no longer seen, other foundation stones can be found around the time. For example: one can be seen outside Burtons shop on Bognor Regis High Street, London Road. See if you can find it yourself!
Burton Foundation Stone - Copyright of Danielle Pitman
Bognor 1912 - Copyright of Alford (2002) The Paradise Rocks: A 1930’s Childhood in Bognor and a Little Local History - Picture 7
In 1929, King George V arrived in Bognor following a lung operation in which he was not recovering well from. Back then, people thought sea air was good for your health! Luckily, King George fully recovered. In order to thank the town, he added the word Regis onto the end of Bognor, changing the name to Bognor Regis in 1929. This was considered a great honour at the time with Bognor being one of the last places in Britain to get the name Regis!
At the time, this caused great controversy as allegedly, King George merely passed through the town of Bognor, instead spending most of his stay in Craigweil House, Aldwick, a neighbouring village. The people of Aldwick believed they should have gained the status of Regis instead of Bognor!
Bognor Regis 1932 - Copyright of Alford (2002) The Paradise Rocks: A 1930’s Childhood in Bognor and a Little Local History - Picture 117
Over the years, the town has considerably changed with the addition of more buildings. One such historic site is the Arcade which was completed in 1902 by builder, William Tate. It was opened to the public on the 26th July and was at the time the largest privately owned premise in Bognor. An Arcade is a covered passageway with arches along one or both sides; the Bognor Arcade consisting of an array of 24 shops and equal number of offices.
The Arcade - Copyright Cartland (1979) Bygone Bognor - Picture 26
At the time, the idea of Arcades were an indicator of the town’s prominence or importance, often including a commissionaire on duty at the entrance to the Arcade, who could be seen welcoming members of the gentry.
Following the construction of the arcade, building continued on the rest of London Road. In 1930, a fire broke out in the Arcade causing extensive damage to 14 shops and all of the offices. Major restoration took place without changing the external features of the historical site. The Arcade still remains in Bognor as a source of trading for local businesses.
Bognor Regis 2015 – Copyright of Danielle Pitman