Bexhill-on-SeaBexhill is a large seaside resort on the East Sussex coast midway between Eastbourne and Brighton.
As well as the usual Sussex seaside attractions, such as the pleasant promenade and good beaches, Bexhill is known for it's unusual place in motor sport history.
In 1902 Bexhill held pioneering motor races along De La Warr Parade to mark the granting of its royal charter as a borough. Commemorative races were reinstated to mark Bexhill’s role in this milestone in motorsport, but these ceased after the centenary year of 2002.
Bexhill has a smart, recently refurbished museum which celebrates the towns role in the history of motor racing as well as having plenty of displays of artefacts of local interest.
Bexhill's iconic and ground breaking art deco De La Warr Pavilion was opened in 1935. While not the first such building in the UK, the pavilion became a symbol of the decay, reappraisal and recovery of this style of modern architecture in the UK. In 1986 the De La Warr Pavilion was granted the protection of a Grade I listing and in 2005, after a great deal of public money was spent on its renovation, it reopened as a very good arts centre.
Bexhill-on-Sea historyBexhill was founded when Mercian King Offa (a Midlander who had been harrying much of Sussex and Kent and the Hastingae people) granted a parcel of land to Bishop Oswald for a church in 772. Not much happened for the next nine hundred years. Much Of Bexhill, including Bexhill Manor, was part of the lands of the bishops of Chichester.
From the late middle ages much of the history of Bexhill is linked to the fortunes of the Sackville family. Thomas Sackville, Earl of Dorset, was granted substantial lands connected with Bexhill Manor from Queen Elizabeth 1. Later the lands passed by marriage and then inheritance to the De La Warr family who, in due course, had a huge influence of the pace of development of the town.
The building of a seaside resort at Bexhill took place later than at neighbouring Eastbourne or Hastings and Eastbourne, which were both well established holiday destinations when the 7th Earl De La Warr first set about transforming the area.
The first works were completed in the last two decades of the 19th century and the centrepieces were the opulent Sackville Hotel, De La Warr Parade and the sea wall. A new railway station was opened to serve the new resort.
Since then Bexhill has expanded greatly, with much of the town's architecture still dating from the late Victorian and Edwardian eras.
Other Bexhill-on-Sea attractionsHigh Woods is a Site of Special Scientific Interest because of its rare oak trees. It's a traditional coppiced woodland of 87 acres. Guided walks around High Woods are organised by the Highwoods Preservation Society, whose members look after the woodland and its wildlife.
Like many East Sussex seaside towns, smuggling was a big part of Bexhill life and you can find out more about the clandestine activities of the smuggling gangs by following the new Bexhill Smugglers Trail - see the museum for more details.
One of the key sports on the trail is Sidley Green where a bloody battle between smugglers and customs men took place on a winter's night in 1828. Two men died, many others were badly beaten and the battle led to the convictions of ten of the smugglers - members of the Little Common Gang.
© East Sussex.org 2008-10.
Sunday February 28