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United Kingdom
Ashdown Forest from Standen.jpg
Ashdown Forest
Flag of Sussex
We wunt be druv
[Interactive map]
Area: 1,466 square miles
Population: 1,612,454
County town: Chichester
Biggest town: Brighton
County flower: Round-headed rampion [1]

The County of Sussex is a shire on the south coast of Great Britain, lapped by the English Channel. It is bounded by Hampshire to the west; by Surrey to the north; and by Kent to the east.

Sussex is best known as a seaside county; its south coast dotted with holiday resorts in towns such as Bognor Regis, Brighton, Hove and Worthing, in a string along the coastal plain between the South Downs and the English Channel until the South Downs punch their way to the sea at Beachy Head, and Eastbourne, Bexhill-on-Sea and Hastings beyond Beachy Head. The easterly part of Sussex has many stately homes and castles such as Arundel Castle and Bramber Castle.

Over half of Sussex is protected countryside. The South Downs in particular are subject to protective planning rules and there have been calls to create a South Downs National Park.

The City of Chichester in the west of the county is Sussex's county town, a fine market town and the home of Chichester Cathedral. It stands at the head of Chichester Harbour.

Sussex has a strong local identity. The county's unofficial anthem is "Sussex by the Sea" by William Ward-Higgs, inspired by a poem by Rudyard Kipling, and which became a regimental march of the Sussex Regiment. The county's motto, "We wunt be druv", reflects the strong-willed nature of its people in past centuries. The county day, Sussex Day, is the 16 June, the feast day of St Richard of Chichester.

Sussex has a traditional shield of arms, blue with six martlets; arms which heralds anachronistically attributed to the Kingdom of Sussex.

In 2002 the charity Plantlife designated as Sussex's county flower the round-headed rampion, also known as the Pride of Sussex.


The chalk uplands of the South Downs run from eastern Hampshire eastward through Sussex, their scarp facing the English Channel and creating the narrow coastal strip in which most of Sussex's resort towns are found. Three rivers break through the downs: the Arun, the Ouse and Cuckmere. The Downs meet the sea with Seven Sisters, the remnants of dry valleys cut into the chalk, ending spectacularly at Beachy Head, a headland cliff towering 530 feet above the sea.

The county's highest point is in the South Downs; Black Down, at 918 feet.

East of Beachy Head lie the marshlands of the Pevensey Levels, formerly flooded by the sea but now enclosed within a deposited beach. At Bexhill the land begins to rise again where the sands and clays of the Weald meet the sea; these culminate in the sandstone cliffs east of Hastings. Yet further east the Pett Levels are marshland to the River Rother estuary, beyond which stretch the dunes of Camber Sands.

The Weald occupies Sussex's northern borderlands. Between the Downs and Weald is a narrow stretch of lower lying land; many of the rivers and streams occupying this area originate in the Weald. The High Weald is heavily wooded in contrast to the South Downs; the Low Weald less so. Part of the Weald is the Ashdown Forest.

Rapes of Sussex

Main article: Rapes of Sussex

Map of the Rapes and Hundreds of Sussex

In common with other south-coast counties, Sussex is divided into a large number of hundreds. These are grouped into six major divisions, known as Rapes, which are unique to the county. They are, from west to east:

Towns and villages

The towns of Sussex have grown with fishing along the coast, and latterly holiday resorts, and agriculture and iron mining on the Weald. Sussex is therefore most heavily populated along the south coast and along the main routes between Brighton and London; the M23 - A23 corridor.

The coast has towns such as Bognor, Brighton, Bexhill-on-Sea, Chichester, Eastbourne, and Hastings, Hove and Worthing. Newhaven and Rye are ports, although the latter is also of historical importance.

The largest town by population is Brighton which stands on the coast. Worthing, another coastal town, has approximately 100,000 inhabitants, as does Crawley, a new town, close to the county's northern boundary with Surrey.

The City of Chichester, the county town, is the seat of the Diocese of Chichester and home to its cathedral.

Coastal dormitory towns include Peacehaven and Seaford.

Inland lie market towns such as Hailsham, Heathfield and Uckfield; Crowborough is a centre for the Ashdown Forest. Lewes; and Battle, with its Norman Conquest beginnings. are the other two towns of significance.

Chichester Market Cross

The main towns of Sussex are:

Additionally, part of Tunbridge Wells (otherwise in Kent), extends into Sussex.



Sussex was the ancient kingdom of the South Saxons, from whom its takes its name (in Old English Suþseaxe means simply South Saxons). The South Saxons established themselves in the fifth century AD and built one of the earliest of the Kingdoms of the English.

Archaeological remains are plentiful in Sussex from many ages of occupation, especially in the upland areas.

In ages past the major occupations of Sussex included fishing, iron-making, seaborne trade and the wool trade.

Places of interest


The Long Man of Wilmington on the South Downs

Beachy Head is one of the most famed local attractions, along with the flats along Normans Bay.

Apart from the physical landmarks such as the Downs and the Weald, Sussex has a great many landmarks of historical interest. There are castles at Bodiam, Herstmonceux, Lewes and Pevensey; and defence works such as the Martello towers and Eastbourne Redoubt.[1] Battle Abbey, built to commemorate the Battle of Hastings, and Bateman's (home of Rudyard Kipling).

Outside links


  1. Eastbourne Redoubt Fortress Military Museum Eastbourne Redoubt is the home of the Royal Sussex Regimental Museum
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