Sunday, 19 July 2009

Sussex: Place in Bernard Cornwell'sSaxon Series ****

Sussex (pronounced /ˈsʌsɨks/), from the Old English Sūþsēaxe ('South Saxons'), is a historic county in South East England corresponding roughly in area to the ancient Kingdom of Sussex. It is bounded on the north by Surrey, 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.

Chichester Market Cross

The divisions of West Sussex and East Sussex were first established in 1189, and had obtained separate administrations (Quarter Sessions) by the 16th century. This situation was recognised by the County of Sussex Act 1865. Under the Local Government Act 1888 the two divisions became two administrative counties (along with three county boroughs: Brighton, Hastings and, from 1911, Eastbourne).
The appellation Sussex remained in use as a ceremonial county until 1974, when the Lord-Lieutenant of Sussex was replaced with one each for East and West Sussex. The whole of Sussex has had a single police force since 1968.
Sussex still retains a strong local identity and the county's unofficial anthem is Sussex by the Sea. The county's motto, "We wun't be druv", reflects the strong-willed nature of its people in past centuries.
Sussex has many moated castles.
Sussex's device shows six martlets.
Sussex's county flower is the round-headed rampion, also known as the Pride of Sussex. June 16, the feast day of the county's patron saint St Richard, has been declared Sussex Day by West Sussex County Council. Although it retains a strong identity, most people say West Sussex and East Sussex today and even use them in lists of traditional counties sometimes.


Rye was one of the Kentish Cinque Ports

The physical geography of Sussex relies heavily on its lying on the southern part of the Wealden anticline. The major features of that are the high lands which cross the county in a west to east direction: the Weald itself, and the South Downs. The former consists of clays and sands; the latter chalk. Between those two ridges, mainly in West Sussex, lies the ‘’Vale of Sussex’’; at the eastern end of the county is the valley of the River Rother, which flows into what was a long sea inlet to reach the sea at Rye Bay.

The Weald

Black Down

The Weald runs in an easterly direction from St Leonards Forest, south-west of Crawley, and continues to Ashdown Forest.

Ashdown Forest

Its eastern extremity is in two sections, divided by the River Rother valley. The northern arm reaches the sea at Folkestone (in Kent); the southern at Fairlight Down east of Hastings, Within the Weald lies Sussex's highest point, the pine-clad Black Down, close to the Surrey border at 917 feet (280 m). Another high point is in the part called Forest Ridges: a height of about 800 feet (240 m) is reached at Beacon Hill in the neighbourhood of Crowborough.
The High Weald, as the main area is known, gets its name from ’’wilderness’’ or forest, and it retains the highest proportion of ancient woodlands in the country. Around 1660 the total area under forest was estimated to exceed 200,000 acres (81,000 ha), and supplied the furnaces of the ironworks which formed an important industry in the county until the 17th century, and which survived even until the early years of the 19th century.

South Downs

South Downs, looking from Windover Hill to Firle Beacon

The South Downs start from a point near Petersfield in Hampshire. On entering Sussex, their summit is about 10 miles (16 km) from the sea. They run east for some 50 miles (80 km), gradually approaching the coast, and terminating in the bold promontory of Beachy Head near Eastbourne. Their average height is about 500 feet (150 m) though Ditchling Beacon is 813 feet (248 m) (the third highest summit) and many other summits exceed 700 feet (210 m).

Vale of Sussex

The Vale of Sussex is the lower undulating land which came into being when the softer clays between the Weald and the Downs were worn away. Crossing the Vale are most of the rivers in Sussex: those rising on the slopes of the Weald and cutting through the Downs to reach the sea
Coastal plain .
This is a fertile narrow belt from Chichester to Brighton. Once noted for market gardening, it is now heavily built-up into a sprawling coastal conurbation.

Hastings Old Town

The beaches along the coast vary from sandy to shingle: that factor, together with the mild climate of the coast, sheltered by the hills from north and east winds, resulted in the growth of numerous resort towns, of which the most popular are (east to west) Hastings, Bexhill, Eastbourne, Seaford, Brighton, Shoreham-by-Sea, Worthing, Littlehampton and Bognor Regis.

Little hampton Harbour


St. Mary's in the Marsh, Romney Marsh

There are several areas of low-lying marshland along the coast; from west to east these are:
in the west of the county, south of Chichester, between Chichester Harbour and Pagham Harbour; beyond Beachy Head, the "Pevensey Levels"; beyond Hastings, the "Pett Levels"; beyond Rye, the "Walland Marsh" part of Romney Marsh. All were originally bays; natural coastal deposition and man-made protective walls have given rise to alluvial deposition.
Throughout its history, the proximity of the marsh to the European mainland has meant that the areas has been in the front line whenever invasion has threatened. In AD 892 one such invasion was successful. The Danish fleet of 250 ships sailed right into the Rother and took the fortress at Appledore (allegedly built by King Arthur), which they destroyed.

The rivers wholly within the county are relatively short. All rise in the Weald (St Leonard’s Forest area) and, apart from the eastern River Rother, flow south to the English Channel, using gaps in the South Downs as they do so. The mouths of all have been affected by longshore drift, particularly during violent storms during the Middle Ages.

River Arun at Stopham Bridge

From west to east they are:
Arun, and its tributary the western River Rother: source of Arun near Horsham; entering the sea at Littlehampton

Adur: source near Cuckfield; mouth near Shoreham-by-Sea

Ouse: source near Lower Beeding; mouth at Newhaven

Cuckmere: rising near Heathfield; mouth ‘’Cuckmere Haven’’.

Eastern River Rother and its many tributaries including the Rivers Bewl (flowing through Bewl Water) and

River Rother and Hastings Harbour

Tillingham: source, the Weald near Heathfield; it flows in an easterly direction and enters the sea at Rye Bay. A section known as the Kent Ditch forms the boundary between East Sussex and Kent.

Arundle Castle peeking above the sky line by the river Arun

South East England combines the highest average daytime temperatures found in the British Isles with the highest sunshine averages on the British mainland. There are between 25 and 30 inches (630 and 760 mm) of rainfall; and there can be high variation of temperature between day and night.
The climate of the coastal districts is strongly influenced by the sea, which because of its tendency to warm up slower than land, can result in cooler temperatures than inland in the summer. In the autumn months, the coast sometimes has higher temperatures. Rainfall during the summer months is mainly from thunderstorms and thundery showers; from January to March the heavier rainfall is due to south-westerly frontal systems. The coast has consistently more sunshine than the inland areas: sea breezes, blowing off the sea, clear any cloud from the coast.

Sussex has retained much of its rural nature: apart from the coastal strip, it has few large towns. Although in 1841 over 40% of the population were employed in agriculture (including fishing), today less than 2% are so employed. The wide range of soil types in the county leads to great variations in the patterns of farming. The Wealden parts are mostly wet sticky clays or drought prone acid sands and often broken up into to small irregular fields and woods by the topography, making it unsuitable for intensive arable farming. Pastoral or mixed farming has always been the pattern here with field boundaries often little changed since the medieval period. Sussex cattle are the descendants of the draught oxen which continued to be used in the Weald longer than in other parts of England. Agriculturalist Arthur Young commented in the early 18th century that the cattle of the Weald "must be unquestionably ranked among the best of the kingdom." William Cobbett, riding through Ashdown Forest, said he had seen some of the finest cattle in the country on some of the poorest farms. Areas of cereals grown on the Weald have risen and declined with the price of grain.

The chalk downlands were traditionally grazed by large numbers of small South Down sheep, suited to the low fertility of the pasture, until the coming of artificial fertiliser made cereal growing worthwhile. Yields are still limited by the alkalinity of the soil. Apart from a few areas of alluvial loam soil in the river valleys the best and most intensively farmed soils are on the coastal plain, where large scale vegetable growing is commonplace. Glasshouse production is also concentrated along the coast where hours of sunshine are greater than inland.

Rye was part of the Kent Cinque Ports

There are still fishing fleets, notably at Rye and Hastings, but the number of boats is much reduced. Historically, the fisheries were of great importance, including cod, herring, mackerel, sprats, plaice, sole, turbot, shrimps, crabs, lobsters, oysters, mussels, cockles, whelks and periwinkles. Bede records that St Wilfrid, when he visited the county in 681, taught the people the art of netfishing. At the time of the Domesday survey the fisheries were extensive, and no fewer than 285 salinae (saltworks) existed. The customs of the Brighton fishermen were documented in 1579.

There are working harbours at Rye, Hastings, Newhaven and Shoreham; whilst Pagham and Chichester harbours cater for leisure craft, as does Brighton Marina.

Chichester Harbour

Iron working
Deposits of ironstone which occur where sandstone strata overlie weald clay have been exploited from early in the Iron Age. The Romans made full use of this resource, and iron slag was widely used as paving material on the Roman roads of the area. In medieval times the Weald was of national importance in the iron industry, with numerous streams dammed to create furnace ponds, where water powered bellows drove blast furnaces, and hammer ponds where wrought iron was hammered out of the raw iron from the furnaces. This made the area strategically important for producing iron canons during the English Civil War, when the Yalding family of ironmasters at Fernhurst had a policy of armed neutrality, firing on soldiers from either side who tried to enter the parish.

Clay working (pottery, tiles, bricks)

As much of the Mid Sussex area has clay not far under the surface, clay has in the past been a focus of industry in central Sussex, in particular in the Burgess Hill area. Although in the first quarter of the 20th century, Burgess Hill, and the Hassocks and Hurstpierpoint areas had many kilns, clay pits and similar infrastructure to support the clay industry, nowadays the majority of this form of industry has left the area, but it still can be seen in place names such as "Meeds Road", "The Kiln", or Oakmeeds Community College, which is named after the oak trees in the area and Meeds Pottery, a once significant pottery in the centre of Burgess Hill. At the height of the success of this industry, tiles and bricks from Sussex were used to build landmarks such as Manchester's G-Mex, but now there is just one main tileworks in the area, Keymer Tileworks. Plans have been submitted to develop the area into housing, so even this tileworks now has a closing date, albeit one not in the near future.

Service industries

The string of holiday resorts, and the many tourist attractions, form part of the main economic base in Sussex. The University of Sussex and the University of Brighton provide employment for many more; whilst reasonable rail connections allow many people to work in London.

Borough English
The custom of borough-English, by which land descends to the youngest son, prevailed to an extraordinary degree in Sussex, and 140 manors have been catalogued in which it was found. Gavelkind tenure existed in Rye, in the large manor of Brede, and in Coustard manor (in Brede parish).


Pewsey Downs

Sussex Archaeological collections contain a neanderthal handaxe, found at Hamsey near Lewes, dated to perhaps 80,000 years ago.
Later archaeological finds have shown that Mesolithic peoples had arrived in the area today known as Sussex: primitive flint tools used in fishing and hunting, and evidence of woodland clearing have been found. At the time (8000BC) Britain was still connected to the continent prior to glacial meltwater completely filling the Channel.
By 4100BC flint mines were being worked, particularly near today's Worthing by Neolithic man. Tombs with some pottery and weapons have also been discovered.
From the Bronze Age (about 1400-1100BC) settlements and burial sites have left their mark on the area, particularly along the South Downs. Later, in 7th/6th Century BC the Celts arrived, and their hill-forts at Cissbury, Devils Dyke and other places show their settlements; burial sites have given further evidence of the lives.

Roman invasions of Britain
The first Roman invasion took place between 54-45BC. It left behind Roman coins, villas, and Romano-British temples. Tincomarus and then Cogidumnus ruled the Atrebates tribe who controlled this part of south-east England. The latter later became King (Rex), possibly at the time of the second Roman invasion in AD 100. This invasion was to be the time when many of the larger villas were built - including Fishbourne and Southwick. Finds have included coins and decorated pottery. Remains of the Roman roads include parts of those from Chichester to London; and that from Hastings northwards: the latter carrying the iron ore mined near the town. Other settlements included ports, among them Chichester and Portslade on the River Adur. Hastings may have been another. More hoards of coins have been discovered: a large one at Patching in particular.
Towards the end of the Roman occupation the Saxon attacks began, and forts were built around the south-east coast, under the Count of the Saxon Shore. In the area later to be known as Sussex was, for example, Anderitum (Pevensey Castle).

The Saxons

Pevensey Castle

According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle the Saxons landed in 477 in the west of the county under Aelle and his three sons, and began to found the kingdom of the South Saxons. Later (491AD ) they landed at Pevensey and took the castle there. They had driven the British westward. Aelle became the most influential of the contemporary Saxon chiefs, and was, according to Bede, the first Bretwalda, or principal king. After his time the kingdom of Sussex gradually declined, falling entirely under the dominion of Wessex in 823.
As with earlier occupants of the area, now named Sussex, Saxon remains have been discovered. There are numerous cemeteries, and scattered burial places along the south slopes of the Downs, including the cemetery on Highdown Hill, where weapons, ornaments and vessels of various kinds were found, and the Chanctonbury hoard of coins is among the most noticeable relics.
From 895 Sussex suffered from constant raids by the Danes, till the accession of Canute, after which arose the two great forces of the house of Godwine and of the Normans. Godwine was probably a native of Sussex, and by the end of Edward the Confessor's reign a third part of the county was in the hands of his family.

Land tenure

Marlborough Downs

Norman influence was already strong in Sussex before the Conquest: the abbey of Fécamp had interest in the harbours of Hastings, Rye, Winchelsea and Steyning; while the estate of Bosham was held by a Norman chaplain to Edward the Confessor. The county was of great importance to the Normans; Hastings and Pevensey being on the most direct route for Normandy. William ensured that his lines of communication were safe by placing the lands in the hands of men, such as his half-brother, Robert, Count of Mortain, who held Pevensey, and his son-in-law, William de Warenne, who held Lewes. In addition the five (later six, with the addition of Battle) rapes of Sussex were held by these and three other Norman tenants-in-chief.
The holdings - which had been scattered under the Saxons, so that one man's holding might be in more than one rape - were now determined, not by the manors in which they lay, but by the borders of the rape. Another peculiarity of the division of land in Sussex is that, apparently, each hide of land had eight instead of the usual four virgates.
The county boundary was long and somewhat indeterminate on the north, owing to the dense forest of Andredsweald, which was uninhabited till the 11th century. Evidence of this is seen in Domesday Book by the survey of Worth and Lodsworth under Surrey, and also by the fact that as late as 1834 the present parishes of north and south Amersham in Sussex were part of Hampshire.
At the time of the Domesday Survey Sussex contained sixty hundreds, which have been little altered since. A few have been split up into two or three, making seventy-three in all; and the names of some have changed, owing probably to the meeting-place of the hundred court having been altered. These courts were in private hands in Sussex; either of the Church, or of great barons and local lords.


Arundle Cathedral

The county court had been held at Lewes and Shoreham until 1086, when it was moved to Chichester. After several changes the act of 1504 arranged for it to be held alternately at Lewes and Chichester. There was no gaol in the county until 1487; that at Guildford being used in common by Surrey and Sussex, which were under one sheriff until 1567.
Private jurisdictions, both ecclesiastical and lay, played a large part in the county. The chief ecclesiastical franchises were those of the Archbishop of Canterbury, of the bishop of Chichester, of the Saxon foundation of Bosham, where Bishop Wilfred had found the only gleam of Christianity in the county (Sussex was the last of the Saxon kingdoms to embrace Christianity), and of the votive abbey of Battle, founded by William the Conqueror. This abbey possessed, besides land in many other counties, the `Lowy of Battle,' a district extending for 3 miles (5 km) round the abbey.

Chichester Cathedral

The see of Chichester was co-extensive with the county, and has altered little. It is one of the oldest bishoprics, having been founded by Wilfred at Selsey; the seat was removed to Chichester by William I. Among the lay franchises, the most noticeable are those of the Cinque Ports and of the honor of Pevensey, named the honor of the Eagle from the lords of L'Aigle or Aguila. There were two archdeacons centred on Chichester and at Lewes; whose jurisdiction later became the basis for the division between East and West Sussex, the County Councils from 1888 having been based in those two towns. In 2006 there are three archdeacons: those for Chichester; Horsham; and for Lewes and Hastings.


Arundel Town, castle dominating the skyline

Sussex, from its position, was constantly the scene of preparations for invasion, and was often concerned in rebellions. Pevensey and Arundel play a great part in rebellions and forfeiture during the troubled times of the early Norman kings. In the barons' wars the county was a good centre for the king's forces; Lewes being in the hands of the king's brother-in-law, John de Warenne, earl of Surrey, Pevensey and Hastings in those of his uncle, Peter of Savoy. The forces of the king and of Simon de Montfort met at Lewes, where a battle took place in 1264.
The corrupt and burdensome administration of the county during the 13th and 14th centuries, combined with the constant passage of troops for the French wars and the devastating plagues of the 14th century, were the causes of such rebellions as the Peasants' Revolt of 1381 and Jack Cade's Rebellion in 1450.
During Elizabeth's reign there was again constant levying of troops for warfare in Flanders and the Low Countries, and preparations for defence against Spain. The sympathies of the county were divided during the English Civil War, Arundel and Chichester being held for the king, Lewes and the Cinque Ports for the parliament. Chichester and Arundel were besieged, and the Roundheads gained a strong hold on the county, in spite of the loyalty of Sir Edward Ford, sheriff of Sussex. A royalist gathering in the west of the county in 1645 caused preparations for resistance at Chichester, of which Algernon Sidney was governor. In the same year the "Clubmen" rose and endeavoured to compel the armies to come to terms.


Battle Abbey

Little active part in the national history fell to Sussex from that time till the French Revolution, when numbers of volunteers were raised in defence. At the outbreak of war with France in 1793 a camp was formed at Brighton; and at Eastbourne in 1803, when the Martello towers were erected along the south coast. A central fort and supply base for the towers, the Eastbourne Redoubt at Eastbourne was constructed between 1804-1810. It is now home to the Royal Sussex Regiment Museum. In the 1860s, possible wars with France prompted more defence building, including the fort at Newhaven.
During World War II the entire coast in East Sussex became a virtual fortress, and towns such as Hastings and Eastbourne became armed camps. Large numbers of the civilian population were evacuated to safer towns inland.

Hastings Pier in the snow

Downs is from Old English dun meaning hill or hill fort.

The South Downs are the southern remnant of the Wealden dome which itself was laid down sixty million years ago as a shallow sea: the rock is composed of the microscopic skeletons of plankton which lived in the sea, hence its colour. The rock has many fossils, and bands of flint occur throughout the formation. Erosion has removed the central part of the dome, leaving the South Downs as the outer southern uplands, the North Downs being its counterpart, as shown on the diagram. The harder rock, and the highest remaining part of the dome, is the Weald.
The chalk, being porous, allows water to soak through; as a result there are many winterbournes along the northern edge.

Towns and cities

Shoreham Church

Major towns and cities of Sussex include:
Bognor Regis
Brighton and Hove (home of the University of Brighton and University of Sussex)
Burgess Hill
Chichester (home of the University of Chichester)
East Grinstead
Haywards Heath
Lancing (credited as the largest village in Britain)
Littlehampton (home of The Body Shop)

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