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Beachy Head from Bexhill - - 629377.jpg
Bexhill to Beachy Head
Grid reference: TQ737092
Location: 50°51’0"N, 0°28’12"E
Population: 41,173  (2007 est.)
Post town: Bexhill-on-Sea
Postcode: TN39-40
Dialling code: 01424
Local Government
Council: Rother
Bexhill and Battle

Bexhill-on-Sea (often simply Bexhill) is a popular seaside resort town on the coast of Sussex. It sits in the east of the county, east of Beachey Head and has a population of approximately 40,000.

Amongst the Cinque Ports, Bexhill is a limb of Hastings.

The Old English name for the place is recorded in Domesday as Bexelei, from the Old English Bex leag meaning 'box trees meadow'.


The De La Warr Pavilion
Bexhill Manor

The earliest evidence of occupation of the site came from the discovery of primitive boats at Egerton Park. The town came into official existence with the Charter of 772. In this charter, King Offa II, King of Mercia, granted land to Bishop Oswald to build a church. Three hundred years later, around 1066, William the Conqueror gave the Rape of Hastings, including the town of Bexhill, to Robert, Count of Eu.

The manor of Gotham in Bexhill was held by the de Lyvet (Levett) family from an early date, who also had estates at Firle, Catsfield, Ninfield, South Heighton and West Dean and elsewhere. The Gildredge family were also influential; they later lived at nearby Eastbourne, where by 1554 they owned much of the land.

Bexhill Manor was owned by the Church until Queen Elizabeth I acquired it in 1590 and granted it to Thomas Sackville, then Baron Buckhurst. In 1813 the male line of the earldom had died out and Elizabeth Sackville married the fifth Earl De La Warr, and she and her husband inherited Bexhill: street names in Bexhill include Sackville Road, Buckhurst Road and De La Warr Parade. King Offa Way records earlier history.

On 20 May 1729, a waterspout came ashore, became a tornado, and travelled 12 miles inland to Battle and Linkhill; nine farms and properties received serious damage.[1]

In the early 1800s the fashion for seaside recreation was boosted by The Prince of Wales, later to become George IV, with the building of the Royal Pavilion in Brighton. The 7th and 8th Earls De La Warr dived enthusiastically into the creation of a resort at Bexhill with an ambitious building programme which included shops and houses in London Road (then called Station Road), residential building on Hastings Road and beginning a sea wall and esplanade between Galley Hill and Sea Lane in 1883. John Webb, the London building contractor who constructed the Eastern Esplanade also developed the land which he had received in part payment and laid out Western Road and built the Devonshire Hotel. In 1884 the 7th Earl De La Warr added the suffix 'on-Sea' to Bexhill.[2]

Smuggling was rife in the area in the early 19th century. In 1828, the local Little Common Gang were involved in what was known as the Battle of Sidley Green,[3] Sidley being an area in the north of Bexhill.

Sights of the town

The De La Warr Pavilion is a centrepiece of the holiday developments of the town; now sadly neglected and constatntly threatened barbarously with demolition.

A Site of Special Scientific Interest lies within the Bexhill district—High Woods. It is of biological importance because it is the only known sessile oak Quercus petraea woodland in this part of the county.[4] Fossils are also commonly found in Bexhill. In 2009 the world's oldest spider web was found encased in amber in the town. It was 140 million years old.[5] In June 2011 it was reported that the world's smallest dinosaur had been discovered at Ashdown Brickworks near the town. A single vertebra was found.[6]


  • Old Town: The original town on the hill, chartered by King Offa in 772.
  • Cooden: In the southwest/west with a golf club and tennis club.
  • Little Common: A small village in the west near Cooden.
  • Pebsham: An area to the east of the town, near Sidley.
  • Sidley: Another area, in the north.
  • Collington: A residential area near Cooden.
  • Bexhill New Town: The main part of Bexhill. There are several roads with a variety of shops, a railway station, a library and the De La Warr Pavilion on the seafront.
  • Ninfield: A rural area to the north.
  • Barnhorn: An area west of Bexhill; its name survives in Barnhorne Manor and Barnhorn Road


The Promenade

Reginald Sackville, seventh Earl De La Warr, decided to transform what was then a village on a hill around its church into an exclusive seaside resort, which he named Bexhill-on-Sea. He was instrumental in building a sea wall south of the village, and the road above it was then named De La Warr Parade. Large houses were built inland from there, and the new town began. In 1890, the luxurious Sackville Hotel was built.

Bexhill was the location for the first motor race in the United Kingdom, in May 1902.[7] Signs at the town's outskirts have the text 'Birthplace of British Motor Racing' appended below the town's name. The Bexhill 100 Festival of Motoring, held on Bexhill's seafront, celebrated this important milestone in motoring history from 1990 until 2002. This final festival commemorated the Centenary of the original "Races". During the life of the festival, in 1999, the organisers launched the Bexhill 100 Motoring Club, so although the Festival no longer exists, the club still goes from strength to strength, and their committee organises each year, the Bexhill 100 Motoring Club Classic Car Show held on August bank holiday Monday in the Polegrove, Bexhill.

The De La Warr Pavilion, brainchild of the Herbrand Sackville, 9th Earl De La Warr|ninth Earl De La Warr, opened in 1935 as one of the earliest examples of Modern architecture in a major British public building. It closed for major restoration work in December 2003 and reopened in October 2005.

During the Second World War, Bexhill was named as a point to attack as part of Operation Sea Lion by Nazi Germany.[8]

The town, like many other English seaside resorts, is now much more a settled community. Although there is a small entertainment area on the seafront, it now has a large retired population, like much of the south coast.


Bexhill is on the A259 road which forms the coast road between Folkestone and Brighton. Plans of an A259 Bexhill and Hastings bypass have repeatedly been postponed over the past 40 years but the plans were cancelled due to environmental concerns.

The town is served by the coastal railway line between Ashford and Brighton and has three railway stations, including Cooden Beach, Collington, and Bexhill. Regular trains run to Brighton, Ashford and London.

The railway built by the Brighton, Lewes and Hastings Railway (later part of the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway) arrived on 27 June 1846, although the present station was not built until 1891, when the town had become popular as a resort. A second line, this time built by the South Eastern Railway and approaching the town from the north, was a branch line from Crowhurst by way of an intermediate station at Sidley to a terminus at Bexhill West. The line opened on 1 June 1902 and closed on 15 June 1964.[9] The branch was also closed temporarily between 1 January 1917 and 1 March 1919 as an economy measure during the First World War.[10]

Sport and leisure

  • Football:
    • Bexhill United FC, who play at The Polegrove
    • Little Common FC, who play at the Recreation Ground

Bexhill-on-Sea has a sports and social club - Bexhill Amateur Athletic Community Association. This club is located on Little Common Road, and also has a football club, Judo, Keepfit classes and a fully equipped gym

Dome on the Promenade

Cultural references

  • The second murder in Agatha Christie's The A.B.C. Murders takes place in Bexhill-on-Sea.
  • The town inspired the Goon Show episode The Dreaded Batter-Pudding Hurler of Bexhill-on-Sea.
  • The 2006 dystopian film Children of Men portrays a shattered Bexhill as a government-quarantined refugee camp for immigrants.
  • In the book Utz by Bruce Chatwin the protagonist went to Bexhill-on-Sea during his adolescence to learn English.
  • In Foyle's War Set5: Ep.2 the Bexhill-on-Sea POW Camp serves as a location.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Bexhill-on-Sea)


  1. Gallery of Natural Phenomena
  2. Kaye, Charles (2002). Old Bexhill. Catrine, Ayrshire: Stenlake Publishing. p. 3. ISBN 978-1-84033-188-2. 
  3. "The Sidley Green Home Page". Retrieved 2009-08-17. 
  4. "Natural England - SSSI". English Nature. Retrieved 2008-09-27. 
  5. BBC
  6. New dinosaur found at brickworks in east Sussex, Independent
  8. "Operation Sealion". Retrieved 2013-05-29. 
  9. H P White, Southern England (A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain, Volume 2), David & Charles, 1961-1982, page 36.
  10. "Railway Magazine", July 1958