Sussex’s Must-see Towns and Villages
Full of history, very picturesque and with great places to eat, drink and shop, Sussex has many fabulous towns and village to visit. Here are details of some of the must-see destinations in the county:
Known for its many thatched houses, the pretty village of Amberley offers plenty for a nice day out. There is the open air Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre dedicated to the industrial achievements of south-east England, and nearby Wildbrooks nature reserve run by Suffolk Wildlife Trust. Twelfth century Amberley Castle is now a luxury hotel with a restaurant famed for fine dining.
Set on the River Arun, picturesque Arundel has a lots of independent shops, restaurants and cafés, which lend it a cosmopolitan air. Set atop the town with views across the Sussex countryside are Arundel Cathedral and the magnificent Arundel Castle, which has a full programme of events and re-enactments as well as beautiful gardens.
As the name would suggest, this small town is situated on the supposed site of the Battle of Hastings when William the Conqueror defeated King Harold in 1066. Located in the Sussex Weald - a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – today people come to Battle to stroll around its market place and visit its 11th century Abbey.
The small town of Bodiam on the Sussex/Kent border is best known for its spectacular moated castle. Now run by the National Trust it is one of the most romantic ancient buildings in the country complete with drawbridge and portcullis.
Bustling Chichester blends heritage with modern activities and offers something for all tastes. Its busy shopping streets mix well-known brands with independent shops while there are numerous food and drink options, a theatre and art galleries. The impressive Chichester Cathedral takes pride of place in its centre.
The nearby village of Fishbourne is celebrated for the Roman Palace and Gardens that are situated there. The remains of the palace – including its extensive mosaic collection - are believed to belong to the largest Roman domestic building in Britain, while outdoors you’ll find the country’s earliest formal garden.
There is another castle at Lewes but there is more besides. It has a range of independent shops, and some great cafés including the original Bill’s. In the centre, set on the River Ouse, is the handsome Harvey’s Brewery - Sussex’s oldest independent brewers. If you visit one pub make it the welcoming Snowdrop Inn, named after an incident in 1836 when a build-up of snow on nearby chalk cliffs collapsed, flattening houses and killing eight people. It’s on record as the deadliest avalanche ever in the UK.
With its winding cobbled streets leading up to the 900-year old medieval church, Rye is an enchanting place to spend the day. Popular with tourists and only two miles from the Sussex coast, it has much to offer in terms of cafés and shops. With a number of art galleries, Rye has always had a creative element to it and writers such as Henry James and Joseph Conrad have spent time here. The town holds annual literary and jazz festivals and has a harbour where a small fishing fleet and yachts are moored.
Accessed through a medieval gate and located on top of a hill in East Sussex, Winchelsea is an unusual village in that it is laid out in a grid system like American towns - an arrangement that gives it a spacious feel that you will just want to walk around. Built on the remains of an old medieval port town, there are over thirty hidden vaulted wine cellars beneath its streets. The only way to see them is through the local archaeological society whose members host guided tours.