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Worthing hides a haven of History and Wildlife

Did you know Worthing has a hidden haven of History and Wildlife and you can find it by taking a ten-minute stroll from Worthing seafront? There are many architectural structures to look for as you wander along the streets of Heene.

1880 – Heene Road looking North from the Promenade giving us our first glimpse of the hidden History of Worthing

Surprisingly, Worthing only became a town in 1803 and then the railway arrived in 1845. Many Victorian families began moving in to Worthing to enjoy the unique microclimate of this area.

Subsequently, farmlands were purchased to build houses and Heene became a prime location to live, west of Worthing town centre.

2020 – Heene Road looking North from the Promenade –

Looking towards the East corner of Heene Road you can see the notable building named Heene Terrace which was built in 1865. This was the beginning of major development in the village of Heene.

Heene Road West as it looks today in 2020

Differing designs of Victorian architecture appears on the left as you proceed along the road

Research will be taking place as to who the builders were and we will then identify if any of them were built by George Hewer.

Heene Mansions West hides the history of a family buried in Heene Cemetery, Worthing

Take a look to the right, on the corner of Heene Terrace, where you will see what was once the home of William Wenban Smith and his family.

Heene Mansions West as it looks today.

Continue along Heene Road and you will find a couple of old Heene Village cottages on your right. Try to imagine the road as it was in the 1891 painting below.

Old Cottages in Heene Lane

Oil painting on canvas in 1891 by Edwin Compton, housed in Worthing Museum and Art Gallery.

Old Cottages in Heene Lane c1891 by Edwin Compton. His first wife, Mary Compton is buried in Heene Cemetery.

Near to these buildings, Heene School will come into view as you continue your stroll northwards. This has now become Heene Community Centre, where you can join in the many activities they offer.

Heene School has been extended to include a café and dance hall. Old school pupils will recognise the old school hall and classrooms in the main building.

Where is this hidden haven of History and Wildlife?

St Michael’s Road is opposite Heene Community Centre. While strolling along here we recommend you take time to admire some of the Victorian architecture prevalent in this area.

Most importantly, as you approach the crossroads with Manor Road, look for a pair of Victorian iron gates.

Entrance gate of Heene Cemetery, Manor Road, Worthing, BN11 4RY

A West Sussex Site of Nature Conservation Interest

Heene Cemetery was officially closed, by the Queen, for burials in 1977, and the gates are now locked. Wildlife has moved in and it is registered as a WSCC Site of Nature Conservation Interest.

Currently, January 2021, Government restrictions do not allow us to open to the public.

Sue Standing – Chairperson for Friends of Heene Cemetery

Take a look at our notice board, while you are here, to find out about new discoveries of the month and other information.

A QR code will link you to our website pages, where we strongly encourage you to explore the fascinating facts about creatures, meadowland plants and burial stories.

Note our contact details and get in touch with us to find out more about becoming a Volunteer or Supporter.

Becoming a Volunteer or Supporter entitles you to receive regular updates by email and priority booking for Open Days and Tours.

Honey, when available, is a bonus, bought at a discount price by our Volunteers and Supporters.

Did you know Worthing has a hidden haven of History and Wildlife and you can find it by taking a ten-minute stroll from Worthing seafront?

Surveys are essential for assessing the status and needs of Wildlife to preserve this hidden haven

Three Botanical Surveys were carried out in 2018/2019 by Sussex Botanical Recording Society, which identified the continuing presence of old meadowland species. Sue Denness has agreed to support us by identifying any new species we find.

Large-leafed Lime behind the statue dedicated to Mary Liversedge Simpson
Looking for butterflies!

After that, Neil Hulme from Sussex Butterfly Conservation helped us identify the butterflies we saw in Summer 2019 and advised us of the ones we should look out for every time we visit.

Lesser Bird’s-claw Beard moss

Subsequently, in 2020, Sue Rubenstein from the Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre helped us carry out a survey and to identify several mosses.

Meadow Coral

Finally, Nick Aplin from Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre identified a number of fungi that appeared in October.

Friends of Heene Cemetery do have core costs, which need to be met. A small donation towards our conservation and heritage projects would ensure that this hidden haven continues to flourish

Sue Standing – Chairperson for Friends of Heene Cemetery

What Next?

We recommend you continue your stroll around the streets of old Heene. Continue north along Manor Road, which surprisingly crosses Heene Road, where you will find St Botolph’s Church. Many of the people buried in Heene Cemetery would have worshipped here.

Hiding under the shadows of the East wall are some ruins of a Chapel noted in the Domesday Book.

When you get home, make a cuppa and take a look at our YouTube page which gives you some views inside Heene Cemetery.

Sue Standing – Chairperson for Friends of Heene Cemetery