Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Sussex by the Sea


I just had to use the title of Sussex’s anthem – “Good Old Sussex by the Sea.
One of the most famous dates in English history is 1066 – the Battle of Hastings. Except that it wasn’t fought there. William, Duke of Normandy, and his troops landed at Pevensey Bay and marched inland to Senlac, which was a part of an area called Hastings. There they battled King Harold’s men, King Harold died, William became King William I and the battle ground became known as Battle, around which a town grew up.
Both Pevensey and Hastings have ruined castles and Battle an abbey which is cared for by English Heritage.
Near Sussex’s eastern boundary is the Cinque Port of Rye, once a coastal port but now inland due to the sea retreating. Two things for which Rye is famous are the 18th century smugglers of illegal items from France such as brandy, lace and fine silks and the many writers who have lived or visited there at one time or another.
Among the writers were Henry James, Rudyard Kipling, H.G. Wells, Joseph Conrad and E.F. Benson whose “Mapp and Lucia” books were based on life in Rye (but called Tilling in the books).
Chichester is the furthest west town of Sussex and boasts a glorious Cathedral with its spire and tower designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott. Inside are chapels, monuments, a very colourful modern tapestry and among the stained glass windows one designed by Marc Chagall that is based on Psalm 150.
Some seaside resorts have stony beaches and make up for that with lovely promenades, such as at Eastbourne with its gardens. Other resorts have plenty of sand and, yes, some also have piers – mostly Victorian.
And, of course, there are water sports from sailing and canoeing to parasailing, diving (especially at Selsey) and fishing.
One of the most famous resorts is Brighton, sometimes called London of the South Coast. As well as beaches, promenade and pier, it is well known for the The Lanes, which are lots of narrow shop-lined streets.
But Brighton’s piece de resistance is the Royal Pavilion, that exotic Eastern-style palace built for the Prince Regent – later George IV.
Anyone wanting a day out in France can always take a cruise from Newhaven to Dieppe which makes a change from the mad rush through the tunnel.
These are only a few of the famous places on or near the Sussex coast. The county has so much more including historic houses, gardens and the Bluebell Steam Railway Museum.

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