Explore the hidden secrets of Bognor Regis

Looking for something a bit different, interesting, educational and fun to do with, or without, the kids in Bognor Regis? Discover the Bognor Regis Heritage Trailsand enjoy learning more about the stories that lie behind what turned a little fishing hamlet on the south coast of England into the popular seaside resort that it is today.

When most visitors think of Bognor Regis they imagine a trip to the seaside. The stunning beaches, the pier, the amusements and maybe even Butlins. But there’s actually so much more to discover and enjoy when you’re in our special little part of West Sussex. 

Not only are we able to boast record breaking hours of sunshine – which of course mean some wonderful days to be had on the beach – but Bognor Regis is steeped in masses of history too. 

It all began with one man – wealthy entrepreneur, Richard Hotham, over 200 years ago. He decided that the beautiful and sleepy little fishing village of Bognor should become a retreat for the upper classes, who wanted to get away from the masses who were flocking from London to Brighton for their hols. 

It’s from this dream that Bognor Regis was born and grew to become the tourist seaside destination that it is today. 

Explore the history of Bognor 

The heritage trails which are run by The Bognor Regis Heritage Partnership Board are six trails to explore which stretch across the whole town, capturing the history and heritage of Bognor Regis. 

They are: 

The Hotham Park Tree Trail and the Seafront ‘Fun and Facts’ Trail are specifically suited to families with young children, while the 3-mile Bognor Regis Blue Plaque Trail celebrates people and events that have either lived in or influenced the town. 

Did you know, for example, that, while holidaying in Bognor in 1923, James Joyce wrote part of his novel Finnegans Wake? Or, that William Blake was a local resident and famously wrote his words about “England’s green and pleasant land” (today part of the anthem “Jerusalem”), while taking in the beauty of the nearby village of Felpham? Both have blue plaques installed to commemorate their presence in the area. 

Then there’s the Richard Hotham trail, which explores the buildings which Sir Richard Hotham was instrumental in. The trail covers Chapel House (Now Hotham Park House), its clock tower and estate. With the building of Hothamton Crescent, Sir Richard Hotham’s aim was to attract royalty to the town, the then  King George III, or his son the Prince Regent , to increase its status. Royalty did indeed visit his bathing resort in September 1796, when the then Prince of Wales visited  Dome House. The Prince Regent’s daughter Charlotte was a summer visitor at Dome House from 1808 to 1811. King George V famously came in 1929 to recuperate from a serious illness and granted to the town, the name Regis.

Starting from the pier and heading west, the Bognor Regis Pier and Western Bognor Regis trail covers even more of the town’s history and development ending at Marine Park Gardens and the remains of the Mulberry Harbour section from World War 2.

Ranging from under a mile to three miles, the six trails are suitable for the whole family. So, on a day when you fancy doing something a bit different, why not seek one out and learn more about our historic town! 

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