Disused Burial Ground
Situated in the grounds of one of Worthing's most venerable ancient churches St Mary the Virgin, circa 1100's, the churchyard contains several eighteenth century monuments. One of the monuments on the north side of the churchyard depicts the Day of Judgement with the tower of the Church rent in twain.
It is a large, rich and handsome structure, dedicated to St Mary. The present building was started in the 12th Century but a church was recorded here, in Saxon times in the Doomsday Book mentioned as ‘Bradewatre’. Little of that church remains but various door jambs and window arches are preserved within the walls of the present tower.
Worthy of attention before entering the church is the very curious and unusual circular window in the west wall of the north porch and also inserted in the wall each side of the nave, between the clerestory windows, two crosses of squared flint work. It is said that a similar cross does not exist in any church in West Sussex.
Time spent looking at the tombstones in the grounds, will not be wasted ie. the impressive cross of Thomas Dyer Edwards: 1885, the ornate set of four Overington stones and the resting place of Elizabeth Penfold who died in 1783. It bears a carved representation of Broadwater Church with the tower split in two. People are leaving their coffins and the sea is giving up its dead. This representation of the ‘Day of Judgement’ is very unusual and can be found on the east side of the north transept.
Internally on the south west wall of the church is a large marble tablet, in memory of eleven fishermen of Worthing, who on the 25th November 1850 gallantly put off in an open boat to assist a vessel ‘The Lalla Rookh,’ which was in distress but they perished in their attempt. A large sum of money was raised for the relief and support of the bereaved families.
There is much history within the church with a vast number of tablets to the memory of individuals of the families of Thompson, Kingdom, Davidson, Kirby, Vernon, Barton, Wenham, Whitbread and Margesson. The registers commenced in 1558.
The ancient parish of Broadwater contained the formerly separate settlements of Broadwater, Offington and Worthing. After the late 18th Century, it was increasingly dominated by and finally engulfed by the growth of Worthing.
The low lying lands near the Broadwater or Sompting brook and the Teville stream were evidently once tidal inlets and the name of the village is presumably derived from its position at the head of a short but wide expanse of water.
The booklet ‘A Walk Around Broadwater Parish Church’ with further history and details is available to purchase in the church.
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