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The Sights of Sunny Sussex – Prince Harry’s New Dukedom

When Prince Harry married Meghan Markle in May 2018, the couple were given the titles of Duke and Duchess of Sussex. This ancient kingdom in south east England is today split into two counties – East and West Sussex – and boasts an array of fascinating towns, historic landmarks and popular destinations, many with royal connections and all within a stone’s throw of London.

Sussex is known as England’s sunniest county, and the plethora of coastal resorts along its English Channel coast, such as Worthing, Eastbourne, Hastings and Rye, bear testament to this.

The town of Bognor Regis in West Sussex claims to be the sunniest town in Britain and was where King George V, the present Queen’s grandfather, went to recuperate from illness in the 1920s. The King’s patronage led to the town acquiring the royal suffix 'Regis' ('of the King'). Today the town is best known for its ‘International Birdman of Bognor’ event, an annual competition for human-powered 'flying' machines held each summer. Rarely taken too seriously, the event sees eccentrically dressed contestants launching themselves from the pier in peculiar winged constructions!

Brighton_Royal_Pavilion_c._VisitEngland-VisitBrighton.jpgBrighton Royal Pavilion © VisitEngland/Visit Brighton

Further along the coast is Brighton in East Sussex, perhaps the most famous seaside resort in England, which has also been called the happiest place to live in the UK. Brighton developed as a fashionable destination in the 18th Century when the Prince Regent, later King George IV, chose to spend time in the town and commissioned the sumptuous Royal Pavilion, noted for its striking Indo-Islamic exterior – a must see for visitors! As well as its distinctive Victorian piers and hotels, the lively town boasts The Lanes, a quirky shopping and leisure district near the seafront which follows the narrow alleyways of the original fishing village, and a large music and arts scene.

Brighton nestles on the edge of the picturesque South Downs, a range of chalk hills which cover almost 260 square miles and stretch along the southern counties of England and down to the coast. The most distinctive feature of the South Downs is the chalk cliffs which run along its southern edge, overlooking the English Channel. Collectively, many of the cliffs are known as the Seven Sisters, but beyond these to the east is perhaps the most famous of them all, Beachy Head, the highest chalk sea cliff in Britain.

Beachy_Head_c._VisitEngland_-_Visit_Eastbourne_-_Copy.jpgBeachy Head © VisitEngland / Visit Eastbourne

The spectacular medieval castle of Arundel, situated in the South Downs, is the ancestral home of the Duke of Norfolk, the premier duke in the English peerage. Dating back to 1067, the ancient castle is one of the longest inhabited country houses in England. Extensively enhanced in the 19th Century in the Gothic style, in time for a visit from Queen Victoria, the castle is considered to be one of the greatest works of Victorian England. Set high up on a hill, Arundel Castle offers incredible views of the surrounding countryside, its beauty made famous in paintings by the likes of Turner and Constable.

Arundel_Castle_c._VisitBritain_-_Pete_Seaward_-_Copy.jpgArundel Castle © VisitBritain / Pete Seaward

Further west along the Downs, is the famous Goodwood Estate, a mecca of sporting prowess and home to Goodwood Racecourse, Goodwood Circuit motorsports track and the annual Goodwood Festival of Speed. The estate, near Chichester in West Sussex, is the seat of the Duke of Richmond and, as well as 17th Century Goodwood House, boasts a hotel, two golf courses, a flying school, a cricket pitch and the headquarters of Rolls Royce motor cars! Plenty to keep the most avid sports lover interested, as well as the most beautiful gardens to explore and a wonderful collection of art in the house itself.

Goodwood_Revival_Festival_Goodwood_Circuit_c._VisitBritain_-_Andrew_Pickett_-_Copy.JPGVintage racing cars at Goodwood Circuit © VisitBritain / Andrew Pickett

For a while, Nobel Prize winning writer Rudyard Kipling made his home at Rottingdean, also in the South Downs, before moving to Bateman’s in Burwash, East Sussex, where he lived from 1902 until his death in 1936. The wonderful 17th Century house and gardens, which are open to the public, allow visitors to follow in the footsteps of one of Britain’s greatest writers, perhaps most famous for his chronicles of the British Raj in India.

A short drive from Bateman’s are the ruins of Battle Abbey, built on the site of the Battle of Hastings which took place in 1066 and saw the last of the Anglo-Saxon kings of England, Harold II, defeated by the Norman Conqueror, William. The Battle of Hastings was one of the defining moments in British history and the abbey, battlefield and visitor centre offer a fascinating insight into the dramatic events that took place there.

1066_Battle_fo_Hastings_Abbey_and_Battlefield_-_East_Range_c_English_Heritage_-_Copy.jpgBattle Abbey and Battlefield © English Heritage

A tour of Sussex for music lovers would not be complete without a visit to magical Glyndebourne, home of the annual Glyndebourne Festival Opera. Glyndebourne House itself dates back almost 600 years and originally hosted the operas, but since 1934 there has been a dedicated theatre. Today, Glyndebourne is one of the world’s greatest opera festivals and is a firm fixture in the English summer ‘season’.

For visitors, Sussex has something for everyone, from archetypal rolling English countryside to bustling seaside resorts, masses of history and heritage, as well as numerous sporting and cultural hubs, many with connections to aristocracy and royalty. No doubt Harry and Meghan will revel in their new roles as Duke and Duchess of Sussex, but we think visitors to Sussex on one of our tailor-made tours will enjoy it just as much!

If you or your group would like to enjoy a tour of Sussex as part of a tailor made tour of England or the UK, please do contact our friendly team today.

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