Richard Howell of West Sussex Archives Society (WSAS)
I love old maps. I love poring over them and imagining a landscape that has probably long since been changed beyond recognition, yet at the same time being able to pick out features which still exist. They provide a juxtaposition of past and present, and one gets an overview that would be impossible to discern from physically standing on the ground.
I am Worthing born and bred, so when this map became available for sale in 2012, I strongly supported the proposal that WSAS should purchase it on behalf of the Record Office.
We do not know precisely when it was surveyed, but it was probably in the late 1820s. It shows the embryonic town a few years before the arrival of the railway, when much of the town centre was still fields, and today’s busy Richmond Road is marked as ‘Footpath to Heene and Tarring’. And yet it is possible to see features that are still there today such as Steyne Gardens, Warwick Street, Montague Street and Chapel Road. It is only small but precisely and delicately executed in pen and ink and watercolour. Even for those with no Worthing connections, it is a thing of beauty.
That is why I suggested this little map of Worthing as being a favourite document. To me it embodies the very essence of WSAS in helping to ensure that rare documents, such as these, are held in safe keeping for future generations to enjoy.
WSAS was established in 1973 with the aim of helping the Record Office to preserve the historical records of West Sussex. Over the years, WSAS has contributed towards the purchase of many important historic records such as deeds, estate records, letters, diaries, business records, maps and plans (such as this one), dating back over 500 years. By helping the Record Office to acquire these documents, WSAS has helped to ensure that they will be preserved and made accessible to current and future researchers.
WSAS runs a full and varied programme of events every year and produces two publications: the highly respected annual journal, West Sussex History, and a quarterly illustrated newsletter, The Researcher. To find out more about WSAS events and the benefits of membership, please visit their website.
WSAS will be at the West Sussex Record Office open day on Saturday 12th November, 10.00-4.00. Why not come along and meet us!