East Sussex may not ring bells when it comes to naming counties but mention the Battle of Hastings, and the defeat of Harold by the Normans in 1066, and somehow it seems familiar. The site of the historic battle can be found at Battle (north of Hastings). Close by is Battle Abbey which incorporates the ruins of a church built by the Normans after the battle, and subsequent structures built in medieval, Tudor and Georgian periods. Interestingly there are several vineyards in the surrounding countryside. Head north of Battle (about 6 miles) and you'll come across the ramparts and moat of Bodiam Castle. Stop to explore the battlements.

East Sussex has some excellent coastal scenery to explore and walk, the most famous landmark being the chalk cliffs at Beachy Head.

Among towns and villages to visit there's the medieval Cinque Port of Rye (although Rye town can get busy in peak season), the old ropemaking town of Hailsham, and Lewes. Lewes is a largish town with lots of Georgian architecture, has a castle dating back to the 12th century, and is home to the Anne of Cleves House Museum. She of Henry VIII fame.

In the countryside between Seaford and Eastbourne is Charleston House, put on the map by the Bells and the Bloomsbury Group. Nearby in the small village of Alfriston, which has some fine timbered building and is home to tiny Lullington Church.

Pevensey Castle is another place to visit if roaming around ruins and piles of stone canonballs is your kind of thing. William the Conqueror landed in the area in 1066 and the Normans built on top of fortifications the Romans had built in the 4th century.


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