Their Majesties the King and Queen with the little Princess Elizabeth, at Craigweil House, Bognor
King George V gave Bognor the Title "Regis"
On July 26th 1929 the accolade "Regis" was bestowed on Bognor. This year is the 80th anniversary of that memorable event.
It was in January 1929 that it was announced from Buckingham Palace that King George V was to be moved to Bognor to recover from his serious illness. He had caught a chill in November 1928, probably at the War Memorial Service at the Cenotaph, which had affected his right lung.
At the beginning of December 1928 the nation was told that his heart was weakening. The King became unconscious and after a lung operation he began his determined struggle for life.
Finally on January 22nd 1929 came the news "The time is approaching when His Majesty’s removal to sea air will be advantageous".
The residence selected was Craigweil House, which was "placed at His Majesty’s disposal" by Sir Arthur du Cross, Baronet.
On Saturday February 9th 1929 Queen Mary arrived to await the King. One hour later the King arrived and so began thirteen weeks of recuperation for His Majesty.
Royal visitors during their stay included the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York (the future Edward VIII and George VI), their sister Princess Mary, Queen Maud and Prince (later King) Olaf of Norway. On March 17th the King’s two year old grand daughter Princess Elizabeth (our Queen Elizabeth) came for a two week stay.
In the brief period between February and May 1929 the Bognor area had been honoured by the presence of the reigning Monarch and three future sovereigns.
The sea air proved to be advantageous to the King for although it was winter time when he recovered his health in Bognor with beneficial effects. Previous Monarchs had been accustomed to going abroad for their health but Bognor sea air was the tonic needed by King George V.
Bognor Regis can now bathe in the glory of our proud accolade.
King George V after his recovery with Queen Mary
It appeared in a document of AD680 as Bucganora - Bucge's Shore - which referred to a landing place for its owner Bucge, she is one of the few Saxon women we find commemorated in the place names of Sussex.
Indeed we are proud of our town name of 'Bognor Regis' - commemorating a Saxon woman and King George V's accolade.
QUESTION Which monarch was prompted to say 'B****r Bognor' and why?
The monarch was George V renowned for his robust language. He didn't suffer fools gladly.
There are two versions of the story. One suggests that having convalesced in the Sussex resort from an illness seven years earlier, when the King was on his deathbed on January 20, 1936, one of his doctors said: 'Cheer up, Your Majesty, you'll soon be in Bognor again.'
He is said by some to have replied with the famous words before expiring.
The second version claims that in 1929, as his convalescence in Bognor was drawing to an end, a deputation of the resorts leading citizens came to ask him if, in view of his patronage, their town could henceforth call itself Bognor Regis.
They were received by the King's private secretary, Stamfordham, who said he would inform the king of their desire.
'B****r Bognor' was his response. On returning to the deputation, Stamfordham diplomatically said: 'His Majesty is graciously pleased to grant your request.'
R.J.F. Lloyd, Southsea, Portsmouth
© Daily Mail, Saturday, April 3, 2004
Mary Wheatland was a well known Bognor Regis Character, a woman who hired bathing machines from the east of the pier. She taught children to swim and saved many lives for which she received medals and recognition from the Royal Humane Society. Born in 1835 at Aldingbourne (three to four miles from Bognor) she later moved to Ivy Lane, South Bersted, Bognor and died at the age of 89 in 1924. Crowds would gather at the groyne to the east of the pier to watch her swim in her serge suit. She delighted in standing upside down so that just her boots protruded from the sea!!
As down the beach my horses wade
So that people can bath in all modesty,
In horse-drawn bathing machines to the edge of the sea,
Then back again my towels I do hire,
Not a glimpse of flesh to make men perspire,
People gather to have a loook at me,
For I perform cartwheels in the sea,
I have medals pinned to my chest,
At savinglives I’m one of the best,
Mr Marsh has often photographed me
So my name will go down in posterity
For all true Bognorians know my name
Mary Wheatland of bathing machine fame.
Ernest Sewell Marionettes
Wallis Arthur came to Bognor in 1900 and subsequently turned the coal yard at the sea end of Lennox Street into the "Olympic Gardens" after neatly boarding it in and roofing it with canvas.
He and his business partner Paul Hill were presenting Pierrots at other seaside towns. Unfortunately he lost money in his first three seasons until he joined the programme himself and helped to make his first profit.
Members of his companies were interchanged and consequently the people of Bognor saw many young performers on their way to fame; Gillie Potter, Ernest Sewell and his marionettes, Milton Hayes with his usual monologues such as “The Green Eye of the Little Yellow God”, and many others.
One day a short good looking youth in a rather shabby blue suit and a straw hat came to see him. He wanted to be a Pierrot and appeared extremely nervous, pressing his light cane into the sand causing it to flick up into the air and then adeptly catching it.
Wallis Arthur who had always had such a good judgement was sadly lacking it that day for he told him that he needed a light comedian – not a low one.
So the young man went to America and the Cinema gained what Bognor had lost, for the man who wasn’t good enough to get a job in Bognor was Charlie Chaplin.