West Sussex

West Sussex on the south coast of England, is easily accessible from London by road and rail and offers a mixture of Wealden forest, chalk grassland, crystal clear river valleys, and coastline. The South Downs National Park covers a significant part of the county, with over half the county formed of protected countryside offering a multitude of activities including walking and biking.

West Sussex is bordered by Surrey, Hampshire, East Sussex with views out to the English Channel.

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West Sussex Overview

Welcome to West Sussex

The cathedral city of Chichester, West Sussex’s only city, sits on the banks of the River Lavant and dates from Roman times. Today Chichester has several harbours and a cosmopolitan atmosphere with museums, galleries and a range of shops and restaurants.

The county lays claim to “the sunniest county” in the United Kingdom and hosts a number of seaside resorts with the likes of Worthing and Bognor Regis being particularly popular.

West Sussex is home to an impressive collection of stately homes including Goodwood House, Uppark and Petworth House. West Sussex’s coastal position means it has seen its fair share of invasions and raids; Bramber Castle ruins overlook the River Adur, whilst the spectacular Arundel Castle is well worth a visit. The restored castle has featured in many TV productions including Dr Who and The Young Victoria.

West Sussex’s local food specialities reflect its geographical position and include Chichester Lobster, Pulborough Eels and Arundel Mullet, whilst the county shares many vineyards with its East Sussex neighbour.

The county of West Sussex nestles on the south coast bordering East Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire and overlooking the English Channel.

West Sussex has a population of around 900,000 people, the county town being Chichester, with significant other towns at Horsham, Crawley, Worthing and Bognor Regis.

The county benefits from the Channel coast line, with the Weald sandwiched between the North and South Downs meaning over half of the county is formed by protected countryside.


History

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

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


Places to Visit in West Sussex

The sunniest county in the United Kingdom, West Sussex is a great place to soak up some rays and relax whilst touring the county as it rolls towards the coast.

West Sussex’s only city, Chichester, is nestled at the foot of the South Downs on the banks of the River Lavant and dates from Roman times. A great place to spend some time, Chichester offers sandy beaches, lively harbours and a cosmopolitan atmosphere with museums, galleries and an exciting collection of shops and restaurants. Chichester Cathedral has stood in the centre of the city for over 900 years and you can take in a range of arts spanning medieval to modern times.
Coastal towns include Shoreham-by-sea, Worthing and Bognor Regis. The seaside resort of Worthing is just 90 mins from London by train. Strolling the promenade will give you the opportunity to sample the sea air, take in the pier and view the artworks.

With a history as a fishing and smuggling village, Bognor Regis was developed into a seaside resort and grew rapidly with the evolution of the railways. You will find a sandy beach and lots going on, ranging from live music, traditional seaside entertainment including amusements, rides, relaxing gardens and a range of restaurants and cafes. Bognor Regis is also home to the annual Birdman of Bognor contest where competitors launch themselves from the Bognor pier in an attempt to glide the furthest, usually not very far.

Britain’s newest national park and one of “Britain’s Breathing Spaces” the South Downs National Park is a varied countryside of grassy rolling downs, ancient woodland, river valleys and coast line. The Park is great for walking, hiking, cycling and horse riding amongst recreational activities. The South Downs Way stretches from Chichester to the coast in neighbouring East Sussex and you can take in the Bronze Age barrows at Old Winchester Hill and Devil’s Dyke, the subject of one of Constable’s great paintings.

West Sussex is home to a number of castles including Bramber Castle, Amberley Castle and the spectacular Arundel Castle overlooking the historic town of Arundel nestling below. The almost fairy tale castle was originally created in Norman times and added to during the 19th century. Arundel Castle has been home of the Duke of Norfolk for the last 600 years, the grounds also include the Fitzalan chapel – it is well worth a visit.

West Sussex has a number of stately homes to enjoy, choose from Goodwood, Petworth House, Nymans House, Stansted Park and House and Uppark. And you can enjoy a number of gardens including Bignor Park, High Beeches, Borde Hill, Parham House Gardens and Wakehurst, home to the largest growing Christmas tree in England.
West Sussex’s famous names include Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop and Tim Peake, the British astronaut.

West Sussex has a large range of annual events, including the Sussex Beer Festival, the Festival of Chichester, the South of England Show and the Goodwood Festival. Sussex Day takes place 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, West Sussex is reasonably accessible. The mainline railway from London runs through to the county, whilst road access is mainly via the A23, M23 from the M25, whilst the A27 and A272 run across the county. West Sussex can also be accessed via Gatwick Airport.



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