East Sussex

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East Sussex
East Sussex UK locator map 2010.svg
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Constituent country England
Region South East England
(Local Government Act 1972)
Time zone UTC±00:00 (Greenwich Mean Time)
  Summer (DST) UTC+01:00 (British Summer Time)
Members of Parliament
Ceremonial county
Lord Lieutenant Peter Field (2008–) [1]
High Sheriff Andrew Blackman [2] (2020–21)
Area1,792 km2 (692 sq mi)
  Ranked 33rd of 48
Population (mid-2019 est.)844,985
  Ranked 29th of 48
Density472/km2 (1,220/sq mi)
Ethnicity97.7% White
1.0% S. Asian

East Sussex is a non metropolitan county in South East England on the English Channel coast. It is bordered by the non metropolitan counties of Kent to the north and east, West Sussex to the west, and Surrey for a short distance to the north-west.



East Sussex is part of the historic county of Sussex, which has its roots in the ancient kingdom of the South Saxons, who established themselves there in the 5th century AD, after the departure of the Romans. Archaeological remains are plentiful, especially in the upland areas. The area's position on the coast has also meant that there were many invaders, including the Romans and later the Normans. Earlier industries have included fishing, iron-making, and the wool trade, all of which have declined, or been lost completely.


County Hall, Lewes County Hall, Lewes - geograph.org.uk - 896752.jpg
County Hall, Lewes

Sussex was historically sub-divided into six rapes. From the 12th century the three eastern rapes together and the three western rapes together had separate quarter sessions, with the county town of the three eastern rapes being Lewes. [3] This situation was formalised by Parliament in 1865, and the two parts were made into administrative counties, each with its own elected county council in 1889 under the Local Government Act 1888. In East Sussex there were also three self-administered county boroughs: Brighton, Eastbourne and Hastings.

Upon its foundation, East Sussex included the south of Tunbridge Wells and the south of Lamberhurst; by the Local Government Act 1894 these areas were transferred to Kent.

In 1974 East Sussex was made a non-metropolitan and ceremonial county, and the three county boroughs became districts within the county. At the same time the western boundary was altered, so that the Mid Sussex region (including Burgess Hill and Haywards Heath) was transferred to the non metropolitan county of West Sussex. In 1997, Brighton and Hove became a self-administered unitary authority; it was granted city status in 2000, whilst remaining part of the ceremonial county of East Sussex.

The area of East Sussex County Council's jurisdiction is divided into five local government districts. Three are large rural districts (from west to east): Lewes, Wealden, and Rother. Eastbourne and Hastings are mainly urban areas. The rural districts are further subdivided into civil parishes. [4]



Beachy Head and lighthouse, Eastbourne, East Sussex Beachy Head and Lighthouse, UK.jpg
Beachy Head and lighthouse, Eastbourne, East Sussex

From a geological point of view East Sussex is part of southern anticline of the Weald: the South Downs, a range of moderate chalk hills which run across the southern part of the county from west to east and mirrored in Kent by the North Downs. To the north lie parallel valleys and ridges, the highest of which is the Weald itself (the Hastings beds and Wealden Clay). The sandstones and clays meet the sea at Hastings; the Downs, at Beachy Head. The area contains significant reserves of shale oil, totalling 4.4 billion barrels of oil in the Wealden basin according to a 2014 study, which then Business and Energy Minister Michael Fallon said "will bring jobs and business opportunities" and significantly help with UK energy self-sufficiency. Fracking in the area is required to achieve these objectives, which has been opposed by environmental groups. [5]


East Sussex, like most counties by the south coast, has an annual average total of around 1,750 [6] hours of sunshine per year. This is much higher than the UK's average of about 1,340 hours of sunshine a year.

Relief and drainage

The relief of the county reflects the geology.

The chalk uplands of the South Downs occupies the coastal strip between Brighton and Eastbourne. There are two river gaps: the Rivers Ouse and Cuckmere. The Seven Sisters, where the Downs meet the sea, are the remnants of dry valleys cut into the chalk; they end at Beachy Head, 530 feet (162 m) above sea level. To the 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. Further east are the Pett Levels, more marshland, beyond which is the estuary of the River Rother. On the far side of the estuary are the dunes of Camber Sands. The highest point in the county is Ditchling Beacon on the South Downs, which has a maximum elevation of 248 m (814 ft) [7] and is classed as a Marilyn.

The Weald occupies the northern borderlands of the county. 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.


The location of settlements in East Sussex has been determined both by its history and its geography. The original towns and villages tended to be where its economy lay: fishing along the coast and agriculture and iron mining on the Weald. Industry today tends to be geared towards tourism, and particularly along the coastal strip. Here towns such as Bexhill-on-Sea, Eastbourne, and Hastings lie. Newhaven and Rye are ports, although the latter is also of historical importance. Peacehaven and Seaford are more dormitory towns than anything else. Away from the coast lie former market towns such as Hailsham, Heathfield and Uckfield; Crowborough is a centre for the Ashdown Forest. Lewes, the County town of East Sussex; and Battle, with its Norman Conquest beginnings, and Wadhurst are the other three towns of significance.

Economy and demography

This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of the non-metropolitan county of East Sussex (Brighton & Hove has a separate table) at current basic prices published (pp. 240–253) by Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of pounds.

YearRegional Gross
Value Added [8]
Agriculture [9] Industry [10] Services [11]
Claimants of Jobseeker's Allowance or Income Support (DWP) [12]
AreaAugust 2012August 2001Population
(April 2011)
East Sussex18,79034,335526,671
% of 2011 resident population
(2001 population where applicable)
[ clarification needed ]
Hastings 6.7%12.1%90,254
Eastbourne 4.3%8.2%99,412
Rother 3.1%6.5%90,588
Lewes 3.0%5.7%97,502
Wealden 1.8%4.2%148,915


General election 2019: East Sussex
ConservativeLabourLiberal DemocratsBrexitGreenOthersTurnout
Overall number of seats as of 2019
ConservativeLabourGreenLiberal DemocratsBrexitOthers


Mermaid Street in Rye showing typically steep slope and cobbled surface MermaidStreet.jpg
Mermaid Street in Rye showing typically steep slope and cobbled surface

The Seven Sisters Park is part of the South Downs National Park. 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, East 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. [13] Battle Abbey, built to commemorate the Battle of Hastings; Bateman's, home of Rudyard Kipling, Hammerwood Park, one of the first examples of Greek Revival architecture in the UK; and the University of Sussex buildings at Falmer are among interesting buildings. Bexhill on sea is also home to the De La Warr Pavilion. East Sussex also includes two chalk hill figures, being the Litlington White Horse and the Long Man of Wilmington, which are both situated in the Sussex Downs.

The Litlington White Horse in the village of Litlington Litlington White Horse.jpg
The Litlington White Horse in the village of Litlington



The A23, one of the major North-South routes. Rpp 010.jpg
The A23, one of the major North-South routes.

East Sussex has no motorways, and even dual carriageways are sparse in the county. The main roads through the county are those part of the radial pattern from London: the A21 from Kent to Hastings; the A22 from Surrey to Eastbourne; and the A23 from Gatwick to Brighton. Cross-country routes include the A26 which carries traffic from Newhaven and Lewes north into Kent; and the south coast trunk route, which starts in Folkestone (Kent) as the A259 trunk road, and traverses the south coast to Eastbourne, where it becomes the A27 trunk road and heads westwards towards Chichester in West Sussex and ultimately to Honiton in Devon. All the main roads suffer from congestion and traffic problems: the A27 which connects Eastbourne to Portsmouth is one of the busiest trunk roads in the UK.

Bus routes serve all the main areas of settlement and many of the villages in the county.


The railways serve the main towns in a similar fashion to the roads. Until the closures of many branch railways in the 20th century, rural East Sussex was well-served by rail: few such branch lines escaped the Beeching cuts so that today only main-line services remain. They include the East Coastway Line (including the Marshlink Line); the Hastings line; and the Uckfield branch of the Oxted Line. There are three heritage railways: the Kent and East Sussex Railway operates from Tenterden in Kent to Bodiam; the Bluebell Railway from Sheffield Park to East Grinstead; and the Lavender Line Steam Railway near Lewes.

Trains in the county are operated by Southern, Southeastern, Thameslink and Great Western Railway. Southern is the key operator for the county, operating services along the West Coastway and East Coastway routes, as well as trains from Brighton, Eastbourne, Seaford and Hastings to London Victoria, and to a lesser extent London Bridge, which is also where trains to/from Uckfield go. Southeastern operate trains from London Charing Cross to Hastings. Thameslink operate trains from Brighton to Bedford, and Great Western Railway operate from Brighton to Bristol Temple Meads, Cardiff Central, Gloucester, Worcester Shrub Hill and Great Malvern.


Among the long-distance footpaths in East Sussex are the South Downs Way; 1066 Country Walk, High Weald Landscape Trail, Saxon Shore Way, Sussex Border Path, Sussex Ouse Valley Way, Vanguard Way, Wealdway and The Monarch's Way.


The Universities of Sussex and Brighton are based in East Sussex, with facilities in Brighton, Falmer and Hastings.

Over 150 primary schools serve the area; many of them small and local in scope.

State and independent secondary schools include Lewes Old Grammar School, which celebrated its 500th anniversary in 2012. Overall, more than 50 serve East Sussex, including further education colleges in larger towns.

A number of independent boarding schools are also located in the county, including Brighton College and Roedean. The Pestalozzi Children's Village, an international foundation, is located at Sedlescombe.

See also

Related Research Articles

Sussex Historic county of England

Sussex, from the Old English Sūþsēaxe, is a historic county in South East England that was formerly an independent medieval Anglo-Saxon kingdom. It is bounded to the west by Hampshire, north by Surrey, northeast by Kent, south by the English Channel, and divided for many purposes into the ceremonial counties of West Sussex and East Sussex.

Weald Area of South East England

The Weald is an area of South East England between the parallel chalk escarpments of the North and the South Downs. It crosses the counties of Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex and Kent. It has three separate parts: the sandstone "High Weald" in the centre; the clay "Low Weald" periphery; and the Greensand Ridge, which stretches around the north and west of the Weald and includes its highest points. The Weald once was covered with forest, and its name, Old English in origin, signifies "woodland". The term is still used today, as scattered farms and villages sometimes refer to the Weald in their names.

South Downs Range of chalk hills in southeast England

The South Downs are a range of chalk hills that extends for about 260 square miles (670 km2) across the south-eastern coastal counties of England from the Itchen valley of Hampshire in the west to Beachy Head, in the Eastbourne Downland Estate, East Sussex, in the east. The Downs are bounded on the northern side by a steep escarpment, from whose crest there are extensive views northwards across the Weald. The South Downs National Park forms a much larger area than the chalk range of the South Downs and includes large parts of the Weald.

Wealden District District in East Sussex, England

Wealden is a local government district in East Sussex, England. Its council is based in Hailsham. The district's name comes from the Weald, the remnant forest which was once unbroken and occupies much of the centre and north of the area.

Rother District Non-metropolitan district in England

Rother is a local government district in East Sussex, England. Its council is based in Bexhill-on-Sea. The district is named after the River Rother which flows within its boundaries.

Polegate Town in East Sussex, England

Polegate is a town and civil parish in the Wealden District of East Sussex, England, United Kingdom. It is located five miles (8 km) north of the seaside resort of Eastbourne and is part of the greater area of that town. Although once a railway settlement, its rail links were closed as part of the Beeching cuts. The 2011 census put the civil parish of Polegate at a population of 8,586, with 41.2% aged 65 and over.

A259 road

The A259 is a road on the south coast of England passing through Hampshire, West Sussex, East Sussex and Kent, and is the longest Zone 2 A road in Great Britain. The main part of the road connects Brighton, Eastbourne, Hastings, Rye and Folkestone.

South Downs National Park National park in South East England

The South Downs National Park is England's newest national park, designated on 31 March 2010. The park, covering an area of 1,627 square kilometres (628 sq mi) in southern England, stretches for 140 kilometres (87 mi) from Winchester in the west to Eastbourne in the east through the counties of Hampshire, West Sussex and East Sussex. The national park covers the chalk hills of the South Downs and a substantial part of a separate physiographic region, the western Weald, with its heavily wooded sandstone and clay hills and vales. The South Downs Way spans the entire length of the park and is the only National Trail that lies wholly within a national park.

Brighton railway station Railway station in Brighton, East Sussex, England

Brighton railway station is the southern terminus of the Brighton Main Line in England, and the principal station serving the city of Brighton, East Sussex. It is 50 miles 49 chains from London Bridge via Redhill.

Isfield Village in East Sussex, England

Isfield is a small village and civil parish in the Wealden District of East Sussex in England, located north-east of Lewes.

Oxted line National Rail line in southern England

The Oxted line is a railway in southern England and part of the Southern franchise. The railway splits into two branches towards the south and has direct trains throughout to London termini.

East Coastway line Railway line

The East Coastway line is a railway line along the south coast of Sussex to the east of Brighton, England. Trains to the west of Brighton operate on the West Coastway line. Together with the West Coastway and the Marshlink line to the east, the line forms part of a continuous route from Havant to Ashford. The Brighton Main Line route to Eastbourne and Hastings, via Plumpton and Cooksbridge, shares the East Coastway line east of Lewes station.

Falmer railway station Railway station in East Sussex, England

Falmer railway station is in East Sussex, south-east England, 3 miles 39 chains (5.6 km) from Brighton on the East Coastway line. It is operated by Southern.

Lewes railway station Railway station in East Sussex, England

Lewes railway station serves the town of Lewes in East Sussex, England. It has five platforms and is on the East Coastway Line, 49 miles 74 chains (80.3 km) from London Bridge via Redhill. Train services are provided by Southern.

Eastbourne railway station Railway station in East Sussex, England

Eastbourne railway station serves the seaside town of Eastbourne in East Sussex, England. It is on the East Coastway Line. The station is managed by Southern, who operate all trains serving it. It is one of two railway stations in the town, the other being Hampden Park Station. There are also two other stations in the Eastbourne area, one being Pevensey & Westham, in nearby Westham, the other being Polegate.

Geography of Sussex Overview of the geography of Sussex

Sussex is a historic county and cultural region in the south of England corresponding roughly in area to the ancient Kingdom of Sussex. It is bounded on the north by Surrey, north-east by Kent, south by the English Channel, and west by Hampshire, and is divided for local government into West Sussex and East Sussex and the city of Brighton and Hove. The city of Brighton & Hove was created a unitary authority in 1997, and was granted City status in 2000. Until then Chichester had been Sussex's only city. By convention, Chichester is Sussex's capital city and Lewes is Sussex's county town.

Geology of East Sussex Overview of the geology of East Sussex

The geology of East Sussex is defined by the Weald–Artois anticline, a 60 kilometres (37 mi) wide and 100 kilometres (62 mi) long fold within which caused the arching up of the chalk into a broad dome within the middle Miocene, which has subsequently been eroded to reveal a lower Cretaceous to Upper Jurassic stratigraphy. East Sussex is best known geologically for the identification of the first dinosaur by Gideon Mantell, near Cuckfield, to the famous hoax of the Piltdown man near Uckfield.

The geology of the South Downs National Park in South East England comprises a gently folded succession of sedimentary rocks from the Cretaceous and early Palaeogene periods overlain in places by a range of superficial deposits from the last 2.6 million years. Whereas the South Downs are formed from the Late Cretaceous age chalk, the South Downs National Park extends into the Weald to the north of the range and thereby includes older rock strata dating from the Early Cretaceous including sandstones and mudstones. The youngest solid rocks are found on the southern fringes of the National Park in the eastern extension of the Hampshire Basin and include sand, silt and clay deposited during the Palaeocene and Eocene epochs.


  1. "Personal Profile of the Lord Lieutenant". Lieutenancy of East Sussex. Archived from the original on 30 November 2020. Retrieved 25 November 2020.
  2. "No. 62943". The London Gazette . 13 March 2020. p. 5161.
  3. Connections Archived 25 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine West Sussex
  4. See List of civil parishes in East Sussex
  5. Prynn, Jonathan (23 May 2014). "Massive oil reserves lie under commuter belt in South, says report". London Evening Standard . p. 8. Archived from the original on 27 November 2018. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  6. "Met Office:English Climate". Met Office. Archived from the original on 25 May 2007. Retrieved 4 August 2007.
  7. Bathurst, David (2012). Walking the county high points of England. Chichester: Summersdale. pp. 69–75. ISBN   978-1-84-953239-6.
  8. Components may not sum to totals due to rounding
  9. includes hunting and forestry
  10. includes energy and construction
  11. includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured
  12. Key Statistics: Population; Quick Statistics: Economic indicators Archived 11 February 2003 at the Wayback Machine . (2011 census and 2001 census) Retrieved 27 February 2015.
  13. Eastbourne Redoubt Fortress Military Museum Archived 18 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine Eastbourne Redoubt is the home of the Royal Sussex Regimental Museum

Coordinates: 50°55′N0°20′E / 50.917°N 0.333°E / 50.917; 0.333