East Sussex

East Sussex on the south east coast, is easily accessible from London by road and rail and offers a mixture of coastline, chalky hills and rolling downs including the Weald.

East Sussex is bordered by Surrey, Kent, West Sussex and the English Channel where the coast offers panoramic views of the sea, with the famous sheer cliffs of Beachy Head, 162 metres high, part of the rugged cliff formation.

East Sussex’s coast has been the scene of many invasions and the historic castles including Bodiam, Pevensey, Herstmonceux, Lewes reflect the battles of the past. Elsewhere on the coast you will find the defensive Martello towers and the Eastbourne Redoubt.

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East Sussex Overview

Welcome to East Sussex

The county of East Sussex on the south coast of England borders Kent, Surrey, West Sussex and overlooks the English Channel.

East Sussex has a population over 500,000 people, the county town being Lewes, with significant other towns at Eastbourne, Brighton, Bexhill and Hastings.

The county benefits from miles of coast line, an Area of Outstanding Natural beauty, the High Weald, that runs into neighbouring Kent and the chalky white hills of the South Downs.

The town of Hastings is the site of the 1066 Battle of Hastings, where Battle Abbey now stands. The ruins of the Norman built Hastings Castle, once home to William the Conqueror stare out to the English Channel.

The seaside resort of Brighton is popular with day trippers and holidaymakers alike where the Royal Pavilion, beachfront, pier, nightlife and Lanes provide great entertainment.

The East Sussex landscape is popular with walkers and there is plenty to explore along the South Downs Way, the 1066 Country Walk and Saxon Shore Way among a host of local routes. For garden enthusiasts see Great Dixter.

East Sussex’s local food specialities include Rye herring, and the county town of Lewes on the River Ouse is slowly building a reputation for food where you will find plenty of local produce amongst the range of quality restaurants, whilst Harveys brews local beers


Although the formation of The Kingdom of Sussex in AD 477 is sometimes referred to as a myth, archaeologists at least agree Saxons did start to settle in the area during the 5th century. Prior to that date, habitation can be traced back to the Old Stone Age or Paleolithic Age when nomadic hunters from Europe arrived in Sussex. Occupation continued through the Bronze and Iron Ages with ruins such as Cissbury Ring in evidence today.

The battle of Hastings was fought in the county in 1066 when Harold met William the Conqueror, who subsequently built Battle Abbey.

East Sussex was formed by the split of the Sussex into east and west divisions under the Reformation Act in 1832. In 1889 the two divisions became two administrative counties.

East Sussex’s coastal position meant a front row seat for World War II activity, with a large build up of military in the county during the run up to the D Day landings.

Places to Visit in East Sussex

East Sussex’s warm climate and beaches make an ideal place to relax. Brighton combines a laid back atmosphere with plenty to entertain the visitor. Wander the 1722ft Brighton Pier to check out the rides and attractions or for something to eat and drink. For a different kind of cultural experience visit King George IV’s Brighton Pavilion. Inspired by John Nash you can tour the stunning palace rooms and wander the gardens. The Lanes area of Brighton is formed of narrow streets where you can browse antique shops or stop for something to eat or drink in the chilled out atmosphere.

Further along the coast, Eastbourne is a vibrant Victorian resort, with the Eastbourne Pier, a bandstand and plenty of hotels. Eastbourne has plenty of attractions and live shows for visitors. You can walk to the highest chalk cliffs in the UK at Beachy Head, standing over 160m tall.

Brighton and Eastbourne are separated by the chalky uplands known as the South Downs National Park, a collection of market towns, quaint villages, woodlands and lowlands. Discover the white cliffs of the Seven Sisters coast and take a walk to see the stunning views.

Other coastal towns include Newhaven, Peacehaven, Rye and Pevensey where you will find the Pevensey Levels, a Site of Special Scientific Interest where the marshland supports an abundance of birdlife.

The High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a vast area that dominates the East Sussex landscape and offers a range of activities to enjoy. The area covers 2395km of bridleways, paths and bike trails offering a real chance to get out in the fresh air. The High Weald is covered with nature reserves and ancient woodlands supporting an abundance of nature including many flower meadows, common dormice and an array of birdlife. There are also over 30 manor houses to explore, dotted across the area.

You can tour East Sussex’s country houses with the likes of Firle Place, Glynde Place and Charleston or the gardens of Great Dixter. If you prefer steam trains you’ll be spoilt for choice with Blubell Railway, Spa Valley Railway or Kent & East Sussex Railway.

East Sussex is home to a number of castles including Bodiam Castle where you can take the boat along the River Rothe, Lewes Castle, Pevensey Castle, Hastings Castle and Herstmonceux Castle where you can spend a day out and explore the historic fortifications.

East Sussex’s famous names include Rudyard Kipling and you can visit Bateman’s, the Kiplings’ 17th century residence and tour the house, woodlands and Park Mill.

East Sussex has a range of annual events, including concerts at Glyndebourne, Elderflower Fields Festival, Brighton Pride week in August, July’s Brighton Kite Festival and the Burning the Clocks parade. Sussex Day takes places annually on 16th June, St. Richard’s Day, to celebrate the county’s heritage and culture. St. Richard of Chichester is the patron saint of Sussex .

Getting There

Despite being on the coast, East Sussex is reasonably accessible. The mainline railway from London Victoria reaches Brighton in around 1 hour, whilst road access to the county is mainly via the A21, A22 and A26 from the M25, with cross country routes linking the main towns together.

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