Timeline of Sussex history

Last updated

This is a timeline of Sussex history. To read about the background to these events, see History of Sussex. See also the list of monarchs of Sussex.


Millennia: 1st BC  · 1st  · 2nd  · 3rd

Centuries: 1st  · 2nd  · 3rd  · 4th  · 5th  · 6th  · 7th  · 8th  · 9th  · 10th  · 11th  · 12th  · 13th  · 14th  · 15th  · 16th  · 17th  · 18th  · 19th  · 20th  · 21st

1st century

c. 15 Verica succeeds Eppillus as king of the southern Atrebates (approximately modern Sussex and south-east Hampshire) with a capital at or close to what went on to become the Roman Noviomagus Reginorum (modern Chichester) [1]
by 42 Caratacus, king of the Catuvellauni tribe, conquers the southern Atrebatic kingdom and expels Verica. [1]
c.43Romans land on Sussex coast as part of the Roman conquest of Britain, perhaps in support of Verica. Under Roman rule the client kingdom of the Regni or Regnenses is created from the southern Atrebatic kingdom for Cogidubnus that includes much of what is to become Sussex. [2] [1]
c.75The largest Roman residence north of the Alps is built close to what is now Chichester Harbour
c.80Kingdom of Regni or Regnenses, becomes a Roman canton or civitas with its capital at Noviomagus Reginorum (modern Chichester). [2]

2nd century

121/122A stone statue, perhaps the largest in Roman Britain, is erected at what is now Chichester Harbour [3]
c.150 Ptolemy's Geography mentions several places in what was to become Sussex including Magnus Portus, Noeomagus (Noviomagus Reginorum), Novus Portus and the Flavius Trisantona (River Arun). [4]
c.190Construction begins on a Romano-British villa just north of the South Downs, close to Stane Street

3rd century

Roman masonry in the walls of Anderitum Outer wall Pevensey Castle - geograph.org.uk - 1410474.jpg
Roman masonry in the walls of Anderitum
c.200-250 Beachy Head Lady buried at East Dean, the first known person of sub-Saharan origin in Britain. [5]
c.293-300The Romans build the Saxon Shore fort of Anderitum at Pevensey [6]

4th century

5th century

c.410 Romans leave Britain [7]
460s onwardsHoard of coins deposited at what is now Patching. [8]
c.477Aelle arrived at Cymenshore ; Aelle goes on to become the first king of Sussex and the first Bretwalda . [9] [10]
485 Battle of Mercredesburne [11]
491Siege of Anderitum in modern Pevensey. [12] [13]

6th century

c.500The beginning of the Heptarchy, which includes the Kingdom of Sussex.

7th century

607 Ceolwulf of Wessex fights the South Saxons [14]
661King Æthelwealh of Sussex becomes Christian and his territory expands westwards to include the Meon Valley and the Isle of Wight. [15]
c. 679Sussex is affected by famine. [16]
681 St Wilfrid arrives in Sussex. [17]
c.681 Selsey Abbey founded. [17]
685-686 Cædwalla of Wessex invades Sussex, killing King Æthelwealh of Sussex. [18]
686South Saxons attack Hlothere, king of Kent, in support of Hlothere's nephew Eadric. [19]
c.7th centurySussex appears in the Tribal Hidage. [20]

8th century

c.700Parts of Sussex are mentioned in the Ravenna Cosmography including Nouiomago or Nauimago regentium (Chichester) and Anderito (Pevensey). [21]
710King Nunna of Sussex and King Ine of Wessex clash with King Geraint of Dumnonia (Devon and Cornwall). [22]
c.715 Eadberht, Abbot of Selsey is consecrated the first bishop of the South Saxons. [23]
771King Offa of Mercia defeats the Haestingas and adds their kingdom to the Kingdom of Sussex. [24]

9th century

Tombstone of AEthelwulf of Wessex, buried in 858 at Steyning Ethelwulf's tombstone.JPG
Tombstone of Æthelwulf of Wessex, buried in 858 at Steyning
c.827Sussex annexed by Kingdom of Wessex [25]
828 Historia Brittonum is written, which refers to the "Night of the Long Knives" in which Sussex is ceded by sub-Roman authorities to Saxons.
839 Æthelstan becomes "King of the Dwellers in Kent, of the East Saxons, of the South Saxons and of Surrey" on the authority of his father, Æthelwulf of Wessex. [26]
858Æthelwulf of Wessex buried at Steyning. [27]
860 Æthelberht of Wessex becomes king of Wessex. Sussex, together with Essex, Kent and Surrey, is fully subsumed as part of this kingdom. [28] [29]
885 King Alfred meets his biographer, Asser, for the first time at Alfred's royal estate at Dean in Sussex. [30]

10th century

After 915The Burghal Hidage lists five burhs (fortified towns or forts) in Sussex at Chichester, Burpham, Lewes, Hastings and Eorpeburnan


927 Æthelstan styles himself as King of the English, becoming the first king to do so.
9303 AprilEngland-wide Royal Council ( Witenagemot ) takes place at Lyminster, included King Æthelstan and his councillors. [32] [33]
994Vikings commanded by Olaf Tryggvason and Sweyn Forkbeard raid the coast of Sussex. [34]

11th century

Scene from the Bayeux Tapestry depicting the death of King Harold at the Battle of Hastings Harold dead bayeux tapestry.png
Scene from the Bayeux Tapestry depicting the death of King Harold at the Battle of Hastings
1011The last Viking raid on Sussex takes place at Hastings. Later in the same year, Sussex is ruled by the Danes [35]
1049 Sweyn Godwinson abducts his cousin Beorn at Bosham and later murders him. [36]
1064 Harold Godwinson sets sail for Normandy from Bosham. [37]
1066SeptemberWilliam of Normandy lands at Pevensey. [38]
106614 October Battle of Hastings at Senlac Hill. [39]
1075The Council of London decrees that the bishopric for Sussex should be moved from Selsey Abbey to a new cathedral at Chichester. [40]
1088 Rebellion of 1088: William II captures the rebel leader Odo of Bayeux in a six-week siege at Pevensey Castle. [41]
1090First mention of Church in the wood Hollington, Saint Leonards on Sea

12th century

The coat of arms of Hastings, shows a motif that features widely in the heraldry of the Cinque Ports Coat of Arms of Hastings.svg
The coat of arms of Hastings, shows a motif that features widely in the heraldry of the Cinque Ports
1107 Henry I of England grants Bishop Ralph de Luffa the right to hold a fair in Chichester, which becomes known as the Sloe Fair. [42]
1108 Chichester Cathedral is consecrated under Bishop Ralph de Luffa. [40]
1139Siege of Arundel - part of the events of the Anarchy. [43]
1155Earliest known charter of the Cinque Ports, included Hastings and later Rye, Winchelsea and Seaford. [44]
1187Fire destroys Chichester Cathedral and much of the city of Chichester. [45] [46] [47]
1194While Richard the Lionheart is held captive in France, King John's forces lay siege to Chichester Castle. [48]
1199 Chichester Cathedral is re-consecrated under Bishop Seffrid II. [46] [47]

13th century

A medieval wall painting of St Richard of Chichester Richardofchichester.png
A medieval wall painting of St Richard of Chichester
1208 King John confiscates Bramber Castle from the de Braose family, after suspecting them of treachery. [48]
121522 JanuaryWhile King John visits Knepp Castle for 4 days, confederated barons assemble in London to determine how best to check the career of this vicious king. [49]
1216in part of the First Barons' War, Rye and Winchelsea open their gates to Prince Louis of France in an unsuccessful bid to take the crown from the hated King John [50]
1216 Chichester Castle is attacked and occupied by Prince Louis of France. [48]
1217A force of Wealdsmen led by William of Cassingham ambushes Prince Louis of France and his men at Lewes, pursuing them to Winchelsea. [51]
1225 Chichester Castle is demolished so that it cannot be used again by French forces [50]
1250-1262The Rape of Chichester is created, the last of Sussex's six sub-divisions, known as Rapes. [52]
1262Pope Urban IV canonises St Richard of Chichester, former bishop of Chichester and now Sussex's patron saint. [53]
126414 May Battle of Lewes
1287FebruaryOld Winchelsea completely destroyed by flood. [54]

14th century

Bodiam Castle was constructed in 1385 Bodiam-castle-10My8-1197.jpg
Bodiam Castle was constructed in 1385
1315The Great Famine of 1315–17 brings a relatively large increase in mortality in Sussex and across much of northern Europe. [55]
1336 Edward III decides to site the county court for Sussex at Chichester. [56]
1338Start of the English Channel naval campaign, part of the Hundred Years' War, saw the unwalled Hastings burnt to the ground. [57]
1348Over the next 20 years the Black Death kills perhaps half of the population of Sussex. [58]
135029 August Battle of Winchelsea [59]
1353Chichester is named as the staple port for Sussex in the Statute of the Staple. [56]
137710 DecemberBishop William Reade receives permission to fortify Amberley Castle. [60]
1381 Peasants' Revolt: people from Sussex participate in riots in London; Lewes Castle is sacked; [61] [62] [63]
1385Work begins on Bodiam Castle [64]

15th century

1406 James I of Scotland is imprisoned in Pevensey Castle, where Henry IV of England provided for his education. [65]
1419 Joan of Navarre, dowager Queen of England, is imprisoned in Pevensey Castle for the next three years after her step-son Henry V accuses her of planning to destroy the king by sorcery [66]
1450JuneRebels involved in Jack Cade's Rebellion assemble outside London. [67]
145012 July Jack Cade fatally wounded at Cade Street. [67] [68]
1451Easter week John and William Merfold indicted after publicly inciting the killing of the nobility, clergy, the deposition of King Henry VI and advocating rule by common people. [67]

16th century

Depiction of martyrdom of Richard Woodman and nine others who were burned in Lewes RichardWoodmanandOthers.gif
Depiction of martyrdom of Richard Woodman and nine others who were burned in Lewes
1504A statute is passed to alternate the court of the High Sheriff of Sussex between Chichester and Lewes. [69]
153820 DecemberShrine of St Richard destroyed following a royal order from Henry VIII. [70]
154520 JulyAfter the Battle of the Solent, the French Navy landed at Brighton and Newhaven but is repulsed. [71]
1555-1557As part of the Marian Persecutions, a significant number of men are martyred for their Protestant faith, including 17 men burnt alive in Lewes. [72]
c.1562First Huguenot community arrived at Rye, arriving at Winchelsea the following year. [73]
15881 October Ralph Crockett and Edward James executed in Chichester for being Catholic priests. [74] [75]

17th century

Steel engraving of scene from Battle of Beachy Head Battle of Beachy Head 10, July 1690.jpg
Steel engraving of scene from Battle of Beachy Head
161124 MarchThe first known reference to cricket being played by adults is recorded at Sidlesham on the Manhood peninsula. [76] [77] [78]
1611First recorded use of the emblem of Sussex in John Speed's Theatrum Imperii Maganae Britanniae [79]
162410 September Jasper Vinall becomes the first person recorded to have died as a result of an incident in a game of cricket [80]
1642December English Civil War: Battle of Muster Green in Haywards Heath results in the deaths or fleeing of 200 Royalists [81]
164222–27 December English Civil War: Siege of Chichester [82]
164314 April -
1 May
English Civil War: Siege of Arundel Castle [83]
164313 December English Civil War: Battle of Bramber Bridge
1643-164419 December 1643 – 6 January 1644 English Civil War: Siege of Arundel
1655 George Fox preaches at Ifield and as a result the first weekly Quaker meeting in Sussex is held; the first Quaker Friends meeting house in Sussex is built in 1676. [84]
169010 July Battle of Beachy Head. [85]

18th century

Henry Pelham, who became the British Prime Minister in 1743 Henry Pelham by William Hoare.jpg
Henry Pelham, who became the British Prime Minister in 1743
174327 August Henry Pelham, one of the two MPs elected to the county of Sussex constituency, becomes Prime Minister of Great Britain. [86]
1745 Sussex Weekly Advertiser first published. [87]
1748FebruaryThe brutal murders take place of William Galley and Daniel Chater by the Hawkhurst Gang of smugglers. [88]
174916 JanuaryAt a special Assize in Chichester, seven men were convicted of smuggling and their part in murders carried out by the Hawkhurst Gang. [89] [88]
176819 February Thomas Paine moves to Lewes, where he develops his political ideas, particularly as part of the Headstrong Club. [90]
1794 Sussex Yeomanry founded when there was a threat of invasion in the Napoleonic Wars. [91]

19th century

Brighton's Chain Pier, Sussex's earliest pier, was built in 1823. Painting by John Constable c.1824 John Constable 024.jpg
Brighton's Chain Pier, Sussex's earliest pier, was built in 1823. Painting by John Constable c.1824
The Skeleton Army rioting in Worthing in 1884 Skeleton Army 1884.jpg
The Skeleton Army rioting in Worthing in 1884
180127 November Prince Augustus Frederick becomes Duke of Sussex [92]
18043 JuneBirth of Richard Cobden, statesman and co-founder of the Anti-Corn Law League [93] [94]
1804 Charles Lennox, 4th Duke of Richmond, gets royal permission for the title 'Sussex' to be transferred from the 25th Regiment of Foot to the 35th (Royal Sussex) Regiment of Foot. This regiment was replaced by the Royal Sussex Regiment 180 years later in 1881. [95]
1813 Ashburnham blast furnace is closed, the last in the Weald as iron production is produced more cheaply in the Midlands and the north of England using coke. [96]
1822 Gideon Mantell discovers dinosaur teeth in Tilgate Forest that he later names as a new genus of dinosaur found 'iguanadon', the second named genus of dinosaur.
1823Sussex's first pier, the Chain Pier, is built in Brighton. [97]
182811 June Sussex County Hospital (now Royal Sussex County Hospital) opens in Brighton


1830 Captain Swing riots take place across Sussex and England. [99]
1832The Petworth Emigration Scheme is set up by the Earl of Egremont. Over the next five years around 1,800 working-class people from Sussex and neighbouring counties emigrate to Upper Canada to escape poverty. [100]
1835John Sparshott is hanged in Horsham, becoming the second to last person in England to be put to death for homosexuality [101]
183627 December Lewes avalanche kills 8 people. [102]
183727 MarchDeath of Maria Fitzherbert, longtime companion of the future King George IV of the United Kingdom at her home in Steine House, Brighton. [103]
18391 March Sussex County Cricket Club formed, the first county cricket club. [104]
184011 MayThe first railway line in Sussex, from Brighton to Shoreham opens. [105]
1853 Lewes Prison, the local prison for male prisoners in Sussex, is opened. [106]
186125 August Clayton Tunnel rail crash results in 23 deaths.
186425 July Ebernoe Horn Fair is revived after a long lapse.
1865The County of Sussex Act 1865 confirms the sub-division of Sussex into east and west areas for purposes of administration. [107]
1884 Skeleton Army riots in Worthing [108]
1889County Councils were established for Sussex's eastern and western divisions.
1893An outbreak of typhoid fever in Worthing results in 188 fatalities. [109]
1894Administration of the south of Tunbridge Wells and south of Lamberhurst is transferred to Kent County Council [110] [111]
1896The National Trust acquires its first property, Alfriston Clergy House in Alfriston. [112]

20th century

Danny House in Hurstpierpoint, where the terms of the armistice to be offered to Germany were agreed in 1918 Danny house.jpg
Danny House in Hurstpierpoint, where the terms of the armistice to be offered to Germany were agreed in 1918
1907"Sussex by the Sea", written by William Ward-Higgs from his South Bersted home, is published for the first time. [113]
1910An airfield is established at Shoreham Airport making it one of the world's first airports. [114]
191624 MarchWithout warning a German submarine mistakenly torpedoes the SS Sussex, a cross-channel ferry, 13 miles (21 km) south of Dungeness resulting in 80 deaths. [115]
191630 June Battle of the Boar's Head, known as "the Day Sussex Died" [116]
191813 OctoberAt a meeting at Danny House in Hurstpierpoint, the Imperial War Cabinet agrees terms of the armistice to be offered to Germany at the end of World War I. [117]
1925The Administration of Estates Act 1925 abolishes the custom of 'borough English' or ultimogentiture, a practice that prevailed more extensively in Sussex than elsewhere in England.
192611 MayAngry confrontations known as Battle of Lewes Road take place in Brighton during the 1926 United Kingdom general strike.
19349 OctoberFascists and anti-Fascists clash at the Battle of South Street in Worthing. [118]
1940September Operation Sea Lion planned by Nazi Germany to land on the Sussex coast and part of the coast of Kent and invade the United Kingdom. [119]
1940German air raids on Sussex begin, those in Brighton being known as the Brighton Blitz.
1942 Dieppe Raid launched from Newhaven. [120]
1943Deception plan Operation Fortitude launched to convince Nazis that invasion would come from First United States Army Group based in Sussex and Kent to invade the Pas-de-Calais department of northern France. [121]
1944Ports of Shoreham and Newhaven used as embarkation points for the D-Day landings. [122] [123]
19458 May VE Day marks the end of the war in Europe. [124]
194515 August VJ Day marks the end of World War II. [125]
19467 September Teddy Donaldson establishes a new official airspeed world record of 615.78 mph (991.00 km/h; 535.10 kn) in a Gloster Meteor F.4 over Littlehampton. [126]
1946 New Towns Act 1946 designates Crawley as the site of a new town. [127]
19537 September Neville Duke establishes a new official world air speed record of 727.63 mph (1,171.01 km/h), flying Hunter WB188. [128]
1961AugustCharter granted to the University of Sussex, the first university in Sussex. [129]
1962 Chichester Festival Theatre opens. [130]
196514 JuneBishop David Cashman is made the first bishop of the Roman Catholic diocese of Arundel and Brighton. [131]
1966 Sussex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty was designated; it was revoked in 2010 upon the establishment of the South Downs National Park.
1967The first Brighton Festival and Brighton Fringe are held
1967The first South of England Show is held at Ardingly. [132]
19674 November Iberia Flight 062 crashes into the southern slope of Blackdown killing all 37 people on board [133]
1968 Sussex Police is formed. [134]
1970A team at the Institute of Development Studies and the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex publishes the Sussex Manifesto at the request of the United Nations.
1971 Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is set up by an Act of Parliament.
1972JulyThe South Downs Way is established as Sussex's first National Trail and the UK's first long-distance bridleway. [135]
1972OctoberSussex Gay Liberation Front holds a demonstration in favour of gay rights, a precursor to the annual Brighton Pride event [136]
1974As part of the Local Government Act 1972 the Lord Lieutenancy of Sussex replaced with one each for East and West Sussex which are made ceremonial counties. [137]
1980 Wilton Park is used as a venue for South African leaders including Jacob Zuma and the ruling National Party to meet behind closed doors. [138]
1982At a meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Brighton, delegates vote for a moratorium on commercial whaling. [139]
198322 October BBC Radio Brighton is relaunched as BBC Radio Sussex. [140]
198328 October High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is confirmed. [141]
1983The Sussex Border Path is devised. The main path is 222 km (138 mi) long and stays close to Sussex's borders with Hampshire, Surrey and Kent, connecting Thorney Island to Rye. [142]
198412 October Brighton bombing assassination attempt on Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher [143]

21st century

The South Downs was designated a national park on 1 April 2010 Devils Dyke.jpg
The South Downs was designated a national park on 1 April 2010
2000 Brighton and Hove is granted city status, becoming Sussex's second city
Sir Charles Burrell, 10th Baronet begins the process of rewilding land at what went on to become Knepp Wildland, the first lowland rewilding project in England [144]
20027 October Piers Sellers becomes the first native of Sussex to journey into outer space. [145]
2003Thousands of Chagossians settle in Crawley following their earlier forced eviction by the UK Government from Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean [146]
20055 DecemberThe first civil partnership formed under the Civil Partnership Act 2004 takes place between Matthew Roche and Christopher Cramp at St Barnabas Hospice, Worthing [147]
200716 June Sussex Day, Sussex's county day is celebrated for the first time. [148]
200914 MarchFinance ministers and central bankers of the G20 meet at South Lodge Hotel in Lower Beeding in advance of the 2009 G20 London summit.
20111 April South Downs National Park becomes fully operational. [149]
20 May Flag of Sussex registered by Flag Institute. [150]
201221 November Katy Bourne is elected as the first Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner [151]
2013Summer Protests against fracking take place in Balcombe [152]
21 November Beachy Head West, Kingmere and Pagham Harbour are made the first Marine Conservation Zones in Sussex waters. [153]
2014 UNESCO designates land between the Rivers Adur and Ouse to be the Brighton and Lewes Downs Biosphere Reserve, Sussex's first UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. [154]
201522 AugustA Hawker Hunter T7 military aircraft participating in the Shoreham Airshow crashes onto the A27 dual carriageway outside of Shoreham Airport, killing 11 people and injuring 16 others. [155]
15 December Timothy Peake becomes the first British European Space Agency astronaut as well as the first person from Sussex to board the International Space Station.
2016MayThe South Downs National Park is granted International Dark Sky Reserve status, to restrict artificial light pollution above the park; it is the second such area in England and the 11th in the world. [156]
23 JuneThe people of Sussex vote to leave the EU by a margin of 50.23% to 49.77% or 4,413 votes in the referendum on UK membership of the EU. [157] [158]
2018The Rampion Wind Farm becomes operational, a wind farm that lies off the Sussex coast between Worthing and Seaford. [159]
3 October Prince Harry and Meghan Markle make their first official visit to Sussex as Duke and Duchess of Sussex [160]
20206 FebruaryThe first case in Sussex of COVID-19 was reported when a man who returned from Singapore and France to the Brighton on 28 January [161] [162] [163]
2021March DEFRA announces a bylaw first proposed by the Sussex IFCA to prevent trawling on 304 square kilometres (117 sq mi) of sea bed off the coast of Sussex. The law should help the rewilding and regeneration of the Sussex kelp forest. [164] [165] [166]

See also

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