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Themes Explorers and Adventurers Nobel Prize Winners
Actors/Actresses and Directors Famous People Places of Interest
Anglo-Saxons and Danes Historic Events Prime Ministers
Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty Inventors and Scientists Royal Consorts and Heirs
Artists and Architects Monarchs World Heritage Sites
Composers National Parks Writers and Poets

Sussex, now divided into East and West, lies in southern England on the English Channel.

Towns include Chichester, the county seat for West Sussex and Lewes, the county seat for East Sussex.

Includes also the coastal town of Hastings one of the original five Cinque Ports (the other four being in Kent). Later Rye and Winchelsea were also granted the same status. From the Norman invasion until Tudor times these ports were required to supply the monarch with ships and men in times of a threat of invasion.

The highest point on the south coast is found in the county at Beachy Head near Eastbourne.

Anglo-Saxons and Danes
Anglo-Saxon Kings
Formed the kingdom of the South Saxons who had landed at Selsey in 447 but it later became part of Wessex. The kingdom of Sussex stretched from the kingdom of Kent in the east to that of the West Saxons (Wessex) in the west, the border to Wessex lying by the Isle of Wight.

Harold II was killed by an arrow in the eye at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. A slab in the ruins of Battle Abbey marks the spot where the last Anglo-Saxon king fell.

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Designated an AONB in 1964, Chichester Harbour is one of the few coastal areas which remains undeveloped in Southern England. Still relatively wild despite its heavy boating use, the large areas of tidal flats and wetland provide a haven for wildlife and migrating birds.

The eastern end of the South Downs which reach west into Hampshire, the Sussex Downs was designated an AONB in 1965. The protected area included the cliffs of Beachy Head and the Seven Sisters in the east and ran parallel to the coast across the county to the border of Hampshire in the west. This AONB was incorporated into the new South Downs National Park which was created in 2009. See National Parks.

Spreading across three ancient counties, the major part of the High Weald is found in Sussex, reaching down to the coast at Hastings. Designated an AONB in 1983, the area lies between the North and South Downs and contains one of the largest areas of ancient woodland remaining today in England. This woodland includes the Ashdown Forest.

In 1918 Hubert Parry died at Knight's Croft, his home near the sea at Rustington, where he had lived since 1880 and in 1916 had composed his most famous work "Jerusalem", an anthem based on a poem by William Blake.

Hubert Parry

The ashes of Gustav Holst were interred at Chichester Cathedral in 1934. His suite The Planets was his most famous composition.

Gustav Holst

Gustav Holst website
Gustav Holst Society

Famous People
Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to qualify as a doctor in the USA, died in Hastings in 1910. Born in Bristol in 1821 she emigrated with her family to America in 1832 but returned to England later in her life.

The economist John Maynard Keynes died in Firle in 1946.

John Maynard Keynes

Historic Events

Major Battles
In 1066 William, Duke of Normandy landed at Pevensey Bay and defeated Harold II at the Battle of Hastings at Senlac. The defeat changed the course of British history. Crowned William I, his reign ended the Anglo-Saxon rule of England and heralded the Norman rulers.

William I
Battle of Hastings

During the second of the Barons' Wars (1263-67), the rebel leader Simon de Montfort captured Henry III at the Battle of Lewes in 1264. As a result de Montfort effectively governed the country in the King's name until his death at the Battle of Evesham the following year. The wars were a struggle by the powerful barons to define and therefore restrict the power of the monarch and would lead to the foundations of today's Parliament.

Henry III

Important Events
The first Cluniac priory in England was built at Lewes in 1077. The Cluniacs were a monastic order founded in 909 by William, Duke of Aquitaine in the French town of Cluny in Burgundy, with the aim of adhering more strictly to the Benedictine Rule. Popular with the Norman monarchy and gentry of the time, the order was at its most powerful in the 11th and 12th centuries and 36 priories were eventually established across England and three further houses in Scotland.


House of Lancaster
House of Lancaster
Henry IV married his first wife Mary de Bohun at Arundel Castle in 1380. Mary de Bohun died in 1394 five years before Henry became King in 1399. She was the mother of the future Henry V.

Henry IV

National Parks

In 2009 - 60 years after the area was first recommended for protection - the South Downs attained National Park status. It is the tenth area in England to be given this designation.

The area reaches from Winchester in the west to Eastbourne in the east and will replace two existing Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty: the Sussex Downs and the East Hampshire AONB, both which will now enjoy increased protection.

The South Downs landscape includes woodlands, chalk uplands and river valleys, a vital "green belt" stretching across the south-east of England.

Nobel Prize Winners

The radio chemist Frederick Soddy was born in 1877 in Eastbourne. In 1921 he became the first English-born winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. He died in 1956 at Brighton.

The author of The Jungle Book Rudyard Kipling lived at Bateman's near Burwash from 1902 until his death in 1936. In 1907 he became the first English writer to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. His ashes are interred at Westminster Abbey.

Rudyard Kipling
Poetry Archive

They shut the road through the woods
Seventy years ago.
Weather and rain have undone it again,
And now you would never know
There was once a road through the woods.
The Way Through the Woods (Rewards and Fairies - 1910)

The physicist and radio astronomer Martin Ryle was born in Brighton in 1918. In 1974 he shared the Nobel Prize for Physics with Antony Hewish for their research in radio astrophysics.

Physiology or Medicine
The biochemist Frederick Hopkins was born in Eastbourne in 1861. In 1929 he shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with the Dutch scientist Christiaan Eijkman for his research into vitamins. He was father-in-law to the writer J.B. Priestley.

The physiologist Charles Sherrington died in 1952 in Eastbourne. In 1932 he had shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with Edgar Adrian for their research into neurons.

Charles Sherrington

Places of Interest

Arundel Castle

Bodiam Castle

Pevensey Castle

Cathedrals and Abbeys
Battle Abbey

Chichester Cathedral

Historic Buildings
Lamb House, Henry James' home

Bateman's, Rudyard Kipling's home

Monk's House, Virginia Woolf's home

Stately Homes and Palaces
Petworth House

The Royal Pavilion was built in Brighton for the Prince Regent, later George IV.

Fishbourne Palace was built around 80 A.D., and is one of the best preserved Roman Palaces outside of Italy.


Notable Places
The Long Man of Wilmington, a giant chalk figure carved in the South Downs, was once believed to be from ancient times. The figure - like the similar Cerne Abbas Giant in Dorset - has now been dated to around the 17th century.

The highest point on the south coast is found in the county at Beachy Head near Eastbourne.

Prime Ministers
Prime Ministers
Born in the village of Laughton in 1694, Henry Pelham was Prime Minister from 1743-54. On his death in 1754 he was buried in the Pelham family vault in All Saints church in the village.

Henry Pelham

In 1754 Pelham was succeeded by his brother the Duke of Newcastle, who was twice Prime Minister in 1754-56 and 1757-62. The Duke, born as Thomas Pelham-Holles, died in 1768 and like his brother was buried in the Pelham family vault in All Saints church in the village.

Duke of Newcastle

Born in Eastbourne in 1956 Theresa May became Prime Minister in 2016 taking over from David Cameron who resigned after the EU referendum. She became only the second woman in history (after Margaret Thatcher) to hold the position. She resigned in 2019.

Harold Macmillan Prime Minister from 1957-63, died in 1986 at his home Birch Grove House at Chelwood Gate. He is buried nearby at St Giles in the village of Horsted Keynes.

Harold Macmillan

Let us be frank about it: most of our people have never had it so good.
(Speech at Bedford, 1957)

There are three bodies no sensible man directly challenges: the Roman Catholic Church, the Brigade of Guards and the National Union of Mineworkers.

(The Observer, 1981)

James Callaghan, Prime Minister from 1976-79, died on his farm at Ringmer near Lewes in 2005. At the age of 92 he was the longest-living Prime Minister in British history. Before becoming Prime Minister Callaghan had held all three of the principal offices of government; Chancellor of the Exchequer, Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary. The defeat of his Labour Party in 1979 by Margaret Thatcher's Conservatives heralded 18 years of Conservative rule until Labour won the 1997 election under Tony Blair.

James Callaghan

Royal Consorts and Heirs

House of Lancaster
Joan of Navarre, the second wife of Henry IV who had died in 1413, was accused of witchcraft and imprisoned in Pevensey Castle between 1418-22 .

Writers and Poets
For Rudyard Kipling see Nobel Prize Winners

Percy Shelley was born at Field Place near Horsham in 1792.

Percy Shelley

Titles are tinsel, power a corrupter, glory a bubble, and excessive wealth a libel on its possessor.

Declaration of Rights (1812)

Tyranny entrenches itself within the existing interests of the most refined citizens of a nation and says "If you dare trample upon these, be free."

A Philosophical View of Reform (1819-20)

I dreamed that, as I wandered by the way,
Bare Winter suddenly was changed to Spring,
And gentle odours led my steps astray,
Mixed with a sound of water's murmuring
Along a shelving bank of turf, which lay
Under a copse, and hardly dared to fling
Its green arms round the bosom of the stream,
But kissed it and then fled, as thou mightst in dream.

The Question (1822)

The American-born author Henry James lived at Lamb House in Rye from 1898 until his death in 1916.

Henry James

The black and merciless things that are behind the great possessions.
The Ivory Tower (1917)

Arthur Conan Doyle, the Scottish creator of Sherlock Homes, died at his home Windlesham in Crowborough in 1930. He was buried in the garden of Windlesham where his second wife was buried next to him on her death in 1940. When the house was sold in 1955 their remains were moved to the churchyard at Minstead in Hampshire, near where they had owned a house in the New Forest.

Arthur Conan Doyle
Arthur Conan Doyle Literary Estate
Sherlock Homes Society

How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?
The Sign of Four (1890)

Virginia Woolf drowned herself in the river Ouse near her home Monk's House at Rodmell in 1941. Her ashes are buried in the garden.

Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain

Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinion of others.
A Room of One's Own (1929)

Things have dropped from me. I have outlived certain desires; I have lost friends, some by death - Percival - others by the sheer inability to cross the street.
The Waves (1931)

The creator of Winnie the Pooh - the children's author A.A. Milne - died at his home at Cotchford Farm in the village of Hartfield near Ashdown Forest in 1956. In 1969 the Rolling Stone Brian Jones drowned in the swimming pool of Cotchford Farm having purchased the farmhouse the previous year.

A.A. Milne

The more he looked inside the more Piglet wasn't there.
The House at Pooh Corner (1928)

Author of Under the Volcano, Malcolm Lowry died in the village of Ripe in 1957. He is also buried there.

Vita Sackville-West was buried in 1962 at Withyam.

Vita Sackville-West

County Links Genealogy in England

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Family History Societies
Hastings & Rother
Sussex Archaeological Society
Record Society
Old Sussex
Online Parish Clerk