Coastal Regions

Coastal regions of Sussex

Unlike many of the most important holiday resorts on the European Continent, built up deliberately for tourism by wiping out the old and starting afresh, Sussex's major resorts have evolved gradually over the centuries and this can be seen along a narrow strip of the Sussex coast between Beachy Head and Fairlight Glen.  Hastings is still, in part, the fishing village it was in Roman times.  It is still also, in part, an old Cinque Port, set at the foot of a 13th century castle built to protect the ancient harbour. In the 18th century the health seekers arrived, sent by doctors who had just discovered the value of sea air for chest troubles. The adjoining resorts of St. Leonards was laid out for them in fashionable Regency style in the early 19th century. Later still, the mass popularity of seaside holidays gave rise to a new Hastings superimposed on a thousand years of history - a resort with a 3-mile foreshore, a double-tiered promenade with sun-trap shelters, and every type of holiday entertainment. Bexhill and Eastbourne have quite different origins. Bexhill was built for people who wanted to retire to the sea and live in peace, and it still is a peaceful and largely residential place, with a large population of retired people. Eastbourne was developed by the 7th Duke of Devonshire when he inherited the small village in 1834. He wanted to build something totally different from the extrovert gaiety of nearby Brighton and created an elegant place with fine parks and gardens, wide tree lined roads and grass in long, trim stretches.  Between the resorts along this short strip of coast are downs and cliffs and inland villages on windy roads. Close to the town of Eastbourne is Beachy Head which is the highest cliff on the south coast and towers 534 ft above sea level. On the top of the cliff is the famous Belle Tout lighthouse, built in 1831, and, at its foot, the 1902 Beachy Head lighthouse which at night sends its beam 16 miles across the English Channel.  The view on a clear day stretches from the Isle of Wight in the west to Dungeness in the east. Like The Seven Sisters Cliffs, Beachy Head is a prominent landmark for sailors. Owing to its height, Beachy Head is notorious as a popular place for people to commit suicide. It has a fall of 535 ft and, since 1965, more than 500 people have killed themselves here with an average of almost 20 deaths per year. This is breezy walking country and its greatest appeal is to people who like fresh air and have good appetites rather than those who want no more than to laze in the sun, for though this corner of England is sunny enough, the air is bracing.

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