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According to tradition the Saxon Ella landed here in 477 defeated the inhabitants and founded the kingdom of the South Saxons which was absorbed by Wessex in 825.

Modern Sussex is divided into Two separate counties, East Sussex and West Sussex.

East Sussex This county covers 695 square miles and has a population of 700,000. The administration centre for the county is Lewes with the famous resorts of Brighton, Eastbourne, Bexhill, Rye, Winhelsea and the cross-channel port of Newhaven other places of note.

A 15th Century castle is to be found at Herstmonceux and the 'Long Man' chalk hill figure at Wilmington. Romney Marsh is another of the county's natural features.

Other famous landmarks of the area include the Greenwich Royal Observatory and castles at Hastings, Lewes, Pevensey and Bodiam with the site of the Battle of Hastings is to be found at Senlac Hill near the town of Battle.

West Sussex This county covers an area of 780 square miles and has a population of 700,000. It has it's administrative headquarters in the town of Chichester with Crawley, Horsham, Haywards Heath, the resorts of Worthing, Littlehampton and Bognor Regis being other major places of note.

One natural feature of the area is the Weald with Arundel Castle and Goodwood being among the man made attractions.

Facts on the region

Origin of name: From the Old English, meaning land of the South Saxons.

Name first recorded: 722 as Suth Seaxe..

County Town: LEWES Charming country town of steep streets, little alleyways and neat red-roofed Georgian houses. A house given to Anne of Cleves after her brief marriage to King Henry VIII was ended is a museum.

County Rivers: Arun, Adur, Cuckmere, Ouse, Rother.

Highest point: Blackdown Hill at 918 feet.

Sussex's local government: There are two Sussex County Councils governing the east and west of the County - excluding the towns of Brighton and Hove - East Sussex County Council and West Sussex County Council which along with 12 district councils namely: Adur, Arun, Chichester, Crawley, Eastbourne, Hastings, Horsham, Lewes, Mid-Sussex, Rother, Wealden and Worthing District Councils complete a two-tier structure. The towns of Brighton and Hove have their own all-in-one unitary authority.

The local landscape

Sussex's spine is the South Downs, the ancient chalk ridge running from east to west, separating the Weald from the English Channel.

The South Downs Way footpath runs for 80 scenic miles from Beachy Head to Buriton just over the border in Hampshire, skirting the crests and dipping in and out of the valleys.

Much of the Weald, once an ancient forest, is now given over to farming - but some areas, such as Ashdown Forest, are still preserved in more or less their original state.

Sussex is drained north to south by a number of rivers, the largest of which are the Adur, Ouse, Rother and Arun, which have cut their way through gaps in the chalk, draining into the English Channel.

Cinque Ports: Originally the four Kent ports of Dover, Hythe, New Romney and Sandwich and Sussex's Hastings. Later additions being Rye and Winchelsea. The Cinque Ports were created to defend the south-east coast of England, and until the reign of Henry VII they provided nearly all the ships and sailors of the nation, as a result they enjoyed many special privileges.

Local Towns and Villages

ARUNDEL A delightful town with steep walks and a medieval castle and church to be proud of.

BATTLE If you can't cross the Channel to see it, there is a replica of the Bayeux Tapestry (1821) in Langton House, which also displays a history of the town.

BEXHILL-ON-SEA Popular seaside town developed by Earl de la Warr after whom the Pavilion is named.

BOGNOR REGIS One of the earliest seaside resorts, known to Queen Victoria as 'dear little Bognor'.

BRIGHTON Levels of sophistication, accommodation and service matched in few other areas of Britain outside the capital.

CHICHESTER Roman and Georgian influences intermingle in this unpretentious city. The great Norman cathedral has works of art by John Piper and Graham Sutherland.

CRAWLEY A classic 60s New Town but the old high street still retains some 16th-century buildings of note including the George Inn.

EASTBOURNE Being top of the seaside sunshine league year after year no doubt helps this seaside resort thrive as it has since the early 1800s.

HASTINGS The story of 1066 is presented audio-visually inside the ruins of the Norman castle. The Fishermen's Museum is packed with local treasures.

HORSHAM One town that has been tastefully redeveloped with indoor malls and a pedestrianized high street. Several lanes and streets reveal olde-worlde Sussex houses. It is the RSPCA's capital.

MIDHURST A classic small Sussex Weald market town somewhat congested by passing traffic but highly attractive and with famous half-timbered Spread Eagle Hotel as well as nearby Cowdray Park.

RYE Twisting cobbled streets with ancient half-timbered and Georgian buildings all perched high up on a bluff give this town considerable charm.

SOUTHWICK Resort dating back to Roman times. Charles II is said to have hidden at the cottage on the green before escaping to France from Shoreham after the Battle of Worcester.

WORTHING Another pier, another beach, Worthing is a typical Sussex seaside resort and remains popular long after George III descended upon it.

East Grinstead

Haywards Heath






Places to Visit

Arundel Castle, Arundel

Charleston, Lewes

Pevensey Castle, Essex

Bodiam Castle, Essex

Amberley Castle, Essex

Leonardslee Gardens, Horsham

Petworth House, Petworth

The Royal Pavilion, Brighton

St. Mary's, Bramber


May - September: The Chichester drama festival. John Gielgud, Maggie Smith, Keith Michell et al have performed here. Every seat in the six-sided Festival Theatre in Oaklands Park is within 66 feet of the stage. Take a picnic on the lovely grounds beside the modern complex first.

May - September: The Glyndebourne Festival Opera season is held at Glyndebourne near Lewes.

Last Tuesday in July: Goodwood meeting, one of the most important in the racing calendar, opens at the famous South Down course.

August: The International Bird Man Rally, when competitors throw themselves off the end of the pier in Bognor Regis in an attempt to prove they can fly.

November: the London-Brighton veteran car race.

5 - 6 June: Corpus Christi Carpet of Flowers takes place at Arundel's Cathedral of Our Lady, built in the grandiose French Gothic style.

June: Eastbourne's International Ladies Tennis Championship serves up Wimbledon hors d'oeuvres.

Each August: Eastbourne United F.C. from Sussex, play Osterley F.C. from Middlesex for the Russell Grant Saxon Shield.

Famous names from the region

Sussex has always been popular with writers. Rudyard Kipling lived in a Jacobean ironmaster's house, Bateman's, near Burwash.

The American writer Henry James lived for a while at Lamb House, Rye

Dora Bryan, one of Britain's best-loved actresses, lives in Brighton.

Pop star and former Beatle Paul McCartney and his wife, Linda, live at Peasmarsh.

Some of the location work for the BBC TV sitcom Waiting for God was filmed at Eastbourne.

Loadsamoney comedian Harry Enfield was born in and went to school in Horsham. He grew up in Billingshurst and remembers serving actor James Bolam there while working at the chemists.

Worthing and Bognor Regis were the apt locations for the movie Wish You Were Here about growing up in a 50s seaside resort. The film launched the career of Emily Lloyd.

The television series Mapp and Lucia - starring Geraldine McEwan, Prunella Scales and Nigel Hawthorne - was filmed at Rye.

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