Let us help you plan your ideal vacation in Sussex...
It may lie close to the clamour of London but this south
coast region is a tourism jewel, having retained much of
its rural character whilst offering a sublime
combination of tranquil beauty and all-round interest.
Sussex is a place of traditional seaside resorts with
piers and beach-huts, age-old castles, Roman relics,
half-timbered villages and swathes of languorous
It's a paradise for walkers, cyclists, water-sport
enthusiasts and fans of the world's most famous
honey-loving bear, Winnie the Pooh.
While most tourists target the region's leading holiday
towns such as Brighton, Eastbourne and Worthing, others
prefer to take in the outstanding beauty of areas like
the South Downs, the historic harbour at Chichester and
the unique High Weald, which has the highest proportion
of ancient woodlands in the country.
The most hair-raising spot is atop Beachy Head - part of
the 'Seven Sisters' hills - where the view is guaranteed
to take your breath away.
Sussex is divided into two distinct territories - East
and West Sussex which, together with Brighton & Hove, are governed by separate local
Much of the region's modern success is can be put down
to an 18th century doctor, Richard Russell, whose faith
in the health-giving properties of sea-air and
brine-bathing persuaded London socialites to travel to
the small fishing village of Brightelmstone. The Prince
Regent (later George IV) was so impressed he even built
himself a grand villa here.
Once the railways had opened up the county, thousands of
lesser mortals turned up to taste the benefits of the
seaside. The village became Brighton, a king's villa
became the eccentric Brighton Pavilion, and the
sumptuous Sussex coast was transformed.
It was the Romans who first subdued native tribes when
they invaded in the 1st century AD, building numerous
villas and temples. A strategic Roman road ran from
Chichester to London.
The Anglo Saxon Chronicles describe how the Saxons then
conquered Sussex in 477 AD, landing at Selsey Bill
between Chichester and Bognor Regis. Their leader, Aelle,
founded the kingdom of the South Saxons; burial sites
exist on the South Downs.
In 1066 the region famously hosted the Battle of
Hastings when King Harold was defeated by the Norman
William the Conqueror. It happened a few miles east of
Hastings at what is now called 'Battle'.
Over the centuries Sussex has courted a variety of
trades, from salt panning and glass making to weaving
and sheep farming, but it was best known for fishing and
the smelting and forging of local iron ore. England's
first-ever cannon was produced at Buxted.
While this industry caused the destruction of vast
forests, it had no effect on the building of castles.
Three of the most important in Sussex - at Lewes,
Bramber and Arundel - were designed to guard routes
leading north from the coast. Arundel - seat of the
Earls of Arundel - is arguably the most magnificent
fortress in the region.
Pevensey Castle, built by the Romans, and Norman
Hastings Castle are atmospheric ruins. The moated 14th
century castle of Bodiam is the most romantic of its
kind in Britain while Herstmonceux Castle, which dates
to the 15th century, was one of the earliest brick
buildings in England.
Petworth House stands in grounds laid out by
'Capability' Brown and was a popular haunt of the
painter J.M.W.Turner. Goodwood Park contains glorious
Goodwood House and the famous Goodwood racecourse.
A must-see is Ashdown Forest, the setting for
A. A. Milne's tales of the world-famous bear Winnie the
Pooh. Milne owned Cotchford Farm at Hartfield and wrote
the children's stories for his son, Christopher Robin
Milne. The forest inspired many of the scenes found in
the Pooh books, ranging from 'Poohsticks Bridge' and
'Roo's Sandpit' to 'The Heffalump Trap' and the 'Hundred
Another writer, Rudyard Kipling, lived at Burwash, near
Lewes. The French-born poet Hilaire Belloc lived in the
eight-sided Shipley 'smock' mill, near Findon. The
sculptor Eric Gill resided in the picturesque Downs
village of Ditchling while the novelist Henry James
lived at Lamb House in the elegant former port of Rye.
Major attractions in Sussex include Butlins at Bognor
Regis and the 'theme' parks of Paradise Park at Newhaven
and Harbour Park at Littlehampton, set out to look like
a 'New England' fishing village. There are museums
aplenty covering history, transport and the area's
industrial heritage, not to mention steam railways and a
host of remarkable gardens.
For military enthusiasts, the Eastbourne Redoubt was
built in the early 19th century to support Martello
Towers designed to thwart Napoleon. It is now home to
the largest military museum in the south east.
Water is a major feature of Sussex which still has a
number of working harbours. Places such as Chichester,
Rye and Hastings are perfect for sailing and other
water-based activities. Hastings (so-called 'birthplace
of TV' thanks to experiments conducted here by John
Logie Baird) still has ancient, tall wooden sheds used
for drying fishing nets since the 16th century.
Chichester - county town of West Sussex - boasts a 12th
century cathedral and a harbour devoted to leisure
Equally important is Lewes, the county town of East
Sussex lying on the River Ouse. It possesses a rare
Georgian elegance and is dominated by the keep of its
12th century hilltop castle.
Tourist Information Centres
88 High Street, Battle, East Sussex, TN33 0AQ
Tel: 01424 773721 Fax: 01424 773436
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Brighton's long history is reflected in the layout of "The Lanes", a
group of pedestrianised narrow streets and passageways full of jewellery
shops, boutiques, independent retailers, and restaurants. A short film
has been made to explain the area's development and to promote some of
You can watch the Brighton Lanes film here