Good Old Sussex by the Sea – in 1912 Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem about it and, five years later, William Ward-Higgs composed an anthemic song. Sussex was all one county then; it’s two now, but the appeal that inspired verse and song remains to this day. East Sussex has been witness to some of the most momentous events in the history of England. The coastal village of Pevensey was the landing place of William, Duke of Normandy, and his army in 1066 and, as every school child knows, William proceeded to defeat Harold near East Sussex Hastings and claim the crown of England. Hastings and Battle, the town that grew up around the site of the battlefield, have museums and exhibitions on these history-changing events. The victorious Normans soon set about building castles and fortifications from which to defend their new territory, as well as religious buildings, and the area is still rich in Norman architecture.
The south coast was always an obvious target for invasion and, in the days before the Royal Navy, the confederation of Cinque Ports was established to provide a fleet of ships to defend the coast. Many Sussex towns, now some distance from the sea, were part of the confederation. The silting up of the harbours has changed the landscape of the East Sussex coast considerably in the past1,000 years.
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