Beach House Park
by Robert Veitch
Beach House Park in Worthing has both an interesting history and an international outlook.
Along Brighton Road in Worthing you might see the rear of what unwittingly appears to be a non-descript white building. That building is Beach House and it claims a regal history. Originally known as ‘Merino Mansion’ it was designed by Worthing’s principal Georgian architect, John Rebecca. The first residents moved in during 1820. Regal status was acquired after King Edward VII stayed here three times between 1907 and 1910.
The ‘back garden’ across Brighton Road is just over 9½ acres and was part of the Beach House Estate until 1922 when Worthing Borough Council purchased it. In 1924 it re-opened as Beach House Park and the council have run it ever since.
The park is bordered on both the eastern and western boundaries by mature Plane and Maple trees, extending north to Lyndhurst Road.
The southern half of Beach House Park is laid out with lawns and flowerbeds. The broad range of plants and flowers will bring enjoyment to those who wander by. When we visited, the poppy beds were a wonderful array of vibrant colours, shimmering in the late afternoon sunshine.
The park is also home to a Japanese Cherry, the ‘tree of life,’ a memorial to the holocaust and other genocides. There is also a memorial to the ‘Battle of Boars Head,’ designed by students from Chatsmore Catholic High School in Goring-by-Sea. It’s a thought provoking installation.
The intriguing ‘Warrior Birds’ memorial is the only one of it’s kind. Primarily, it recalls the sacrifice of carrier pigeons during war. West End actress Nancy Price, who lived in Findon, commissioned it. Local sculptor Leslie Sharp created it and in July 1951 the Duke and Duchess of Hamilton unveiled it. Sadly, the monument is fenced off from the public making it barely visible.
The northern half of the park is home to tennis courts, outdoor chessboard, café and bowling greens. There were two greens initially until more were added in 1926, 1934 and 1967. Beach House Park is home to Bowls England who administer the sport. Both the Men’s and Women’s World Championships have been won here and the National Championships have been staged here since 1974.
From fuzzy childhood memories I recall David Bryant seemingly conquering all before him on the beautiful greens of Worthing. Wielding his pipe in one hand and a wood in the other, it seemed perplexing to a boy in primary school that lawn bowls along with darts and snooker were ‘sports’ that could be enjoyed whilst having a smoke and maybe a tipple too.
With the prospect of a few warm days this September, there are worse things to do than enjoy an hour in the ‘back garden’ of Beach House in Worthing.
Beach House Park is on Lyndhurst Road,Worthing,West Sussex, BN11 2DB, and is open 365 days of the year.
You can contact Worthing Council at www.adur-worthing.gov.uk/parks for more information .