From seaside towns to beautiful landscapes, Sussex has a lot to offer its visitors. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker, a nature lover, a shopaholic or a food fanatic, you’re never far from enjoying your favourite hobby. You’re also never more than an hour from London, making Sussex a tourist’s dream destination. There are many historical treasures in the United Kingdom, and Sussex is certainly a region that’s included in the list. This idyllic corner of the country boasts a fascinating history that’s well worth exploring. From Roman invasions to religious struggles and wars, Sussex’s story is one that’s filled with exciting twists and turns. Are you ready to venture into the historical events that have shaped this unique part of England?

The beginnings of Sussex

Our journey through Sussex’s history begins a very long time ago. Did you know that some of the earliest hominid remains in Europe were found in Sussex? They date back to around 500,000 years ago and were found in Boxgrove. More discoveries in Sussex have included tools dating from about 35,000 years ago and many remains found over the years from the Bronze and Iron Ages.

Fast forward to the Neolithic period, one of Britain’s largest and most important flint mining centres ran in the South Downs. These mines have been dated as far back as 4500 BC.

Roman Sussex

The next stop on our adventure comes to a dramatic episode that took place over two thousand years ago: the Roman invasion.

In AD 43, the Roman army, led by Emperor Claudius, crossed the English Channel and landed on the Sussex coast. They established a settlement called Noviomagus Reginorum, known today as Chichester. The Romans left a memorable mark on Sussex, leaving behind structures like Fishbourne Roman Palace, one of the largest Roman residences in Britain.

Norman Sussex

Fast forward to the year 1066, a date that resonates deeply in English history. William the Conqueror, after his famous victory at the Battle of Hastings, extended his conquest into Sussex, firmly establishing Norman rule.

This event had far-reaching consequences for Sussex, shaping its medieval architecture and society. Key landmarks like Arundel Castle, a magnificent example of Norman architecture, are a testament to this transformative era.

The Sussex Martyrs

In the early 16th century, during the religious turbulence of the Protestant Reformation, Sussex became a focal point of religious tension. The persecution of Protestants led to the infamous burning of the "Sussex Martyrs" in Lewes.

Seventeen individuals, firm in their Protestant beliefs, were martyred, their memory honoured by the Martyrs' Memorial in Lewes today. This dark chapter in Sussex's history underscores the region's significant role in the religious struggles of the time during Mary’s brief reign.

Late modern Sussex

The 19th century was a tough time for Sussex. 23% of its population lived on the breadline and Sussex had the highest poor relief rates in England. If you were an agricultural labourer during this time, you were either forced to lower wages or made unemployed and conditions were horrendous. In fact, they were so bad that it caused riots.

Jumping to World War II, Sussex played a pivotal role in the defence of Britain during the Battle of Britain. Airfields like RAF Tangmere and RAF Westhampnett were crucial in repelling German air raids. Today, the Battle of Britain Bunker in Uckfield offers a glimpse into the nerve centre of this historic conflict, complete with an underground control room and

21st Century Sussex

Now we’ve come to the most up-to-date times for Sussex. This century has seen natives go into space, with Piers Sellers becoming the first from Sussex to journey off Earth and well-known Timothy Peake being the first from Sussex to board the International Space Station.

Some other highlights have included the creation of Sussex Day, environmentally-friendly changes such as wind farms and marine conservation zones and Brighton and Hove being granted city status.

Facts about Sussex

You know the history, but what else is there to know about the glorious county of Sussex?
Let's finish things off with some intriguing facts about this picturesque part of the UK.

1. Home to the longest herbaceous border

The gardens at Borde Hill in West Sussex boast the longest herbaceous border in the world, featuring an incredible display of plants and flowers.

2. The county of castles

Sussex is home to several historic castles, including Arundel Castle, Lewes Castle, and Herstmonceux Castle, each with its unique charm and history.

3. Birthplace of Winnie the Pooh

How could we not mention this? Author A.A. Milne and illustrator E.H. Shepard found inspiration for the beloved Winnie the Pooh stories in the Ashdown Forest, a tranquil area located in Sussex.

4. World's first public railway

The world's first public railway, the Wagonway, was built in Sussex in 1801, linking the coal mines to the coast and revolutionising transportation.

5. The Sussex Weald

This region in Sussex is renowned for its iron industry, dating back to Roman times. It's also famous for its stunning woodlands and scenic landscapes.

6. Famous Residents

Sussex has been home to many famous individuals, including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes series, and Rudyard Kipling, who wrote "The Jungle Book" and "Kim."

7. Sussex smugglers

In the 18th century, Sussex was a hotspot for smuggling due to its extensive coastline and remote coves. The Smugglers Adventure in Hastings allows visitors to explore the secret world of these daring outlaws.

8. Traditional Morris dancing

Sussex has a rich tradition of Morris dancing, a colourful and lively form of English folk dance. Many villages and towns in the region hold Morris dancing festivals and events.

Whether you were born and bred in Sussex or fancy a visit, we hope you’ve learned something new that’s got you more excited about this beautiful part of England.

As we wrap up our journey through the history and charming quirks of Sussex, it's clear that this English county is much more than just a picturesque destination. It's a stunning mix of experiences where history, nature, and culture intertwine to create a uniquely rich and diverse place to be.

Sussex isn't just about its past. The county thrives in the present with its world-renowned Glyndebourne Opera House, thriving market towns, and the vibrant artistic legacy of writers like Virginia Woolf. The natural beauty of the Seven Sisters Cliffs, South Downs Way, and unique wildlife sanctuaries make it a haven for lovers of the great outdoors.

Whether enjoying fish and chips on Brighton Pier, hiking along the South Downs Way, or simply strolling through the charming villages, Sussex invites you to explore its stories and secrets. In every part of this remarkable county, you'll find a hidden gem, a story waiting to be told, and a memory waiting to be made.

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