Social History

We has an extensive Social History collection with objects and images covering the history of Worthing over several hundred years

Worthing Library & Museum staff, c. 1910
Worthing Library & Museum staff, c. 1910

An insight into the collection

A seaside resort since the 1790s, Worthing has a long and fascinating history.  Worthing was not only where Oscar Wilde wrote “The Importance of Being Earnest”, it was also the model for Jane Austen’s last work, “Sanditon” and the site of the major “Skeleton Army” riots provoked by the Salvation Army in the 1880s. 

A centre for smuggling in the 18th and 19th centuries, skirmishes were fought against the Excise men in the area more than once during this period.  Worthing also has the only pier to have been “blown down, burnt down and blown up”, in spite of this the elegant pier is still standing!  

We have an extensive collection of local material including photographs and ephemera, with a particularly strong assemblage of items from 19th century rural Sussex, with a focus on shepherding and rural employment and other artefacts dating to the suffragette movement and World War II.