Sussex, England Travel Guide: Visit the Landscape of Meghan & Harry's Royal Title
Explore the New Domain of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex
When Harry and Meghan got hitched in May 2018, the queen bestowed them with the titles of Duke and Duchess of Sussex. The landscape of their new domain, Sussex, is quintessentially that of Southeast England.
Situated on the coast, it’s a 1,500-square-mile county of castles, rolling hills, white chalk cliffs, winding lanes and traditional seaside towns. It is also home to Brighton, less than a one-hour journey from London by train, and one of England’s most cosmopolitan cities. Not a bad wedding gift by any means.
Whether or not you’re interested in all things royal, Sussex makes a delightful place to visit and explore. This Sussex travel guide will help you get the most out of your trip and soak up all of the beautiful English countryside and seaside you can.
A Glimpse into the Fascinating History of Sussex
For history buffs, Sussex boasts an abundance of historical sites.
Battle Abbey was the scene of the 1066 Battle of Hastings between the armies of King Harold and William the Conqueror. A visit to the abbey and battleground offers insight into the clash that occurred here nearly 1,000 years ago and changed the course of Britain’s history.
Afterward, a couple of hours can be spent exploring the quaint village of Battle and enjoying its tea shops and gift stores.
The medieval castle and stately home of Arundel in West Sussex offers stunning views over the River Arun and the South Downs and is thus one of the best places to visit in Sussex. Its magnificent walled gardens are a treat to explore and the town is packed with Victorian and Georgian buildings, as well as plenty of independent shops and restaurants.
Romantic Bodiam Castle, near Robertsbridge, was built in 1385 to protect the south coast from French invasion. Although the interior is in a state of disrepair, the exterior is wonderfully picturesque with an iconic moat, and is beautifully set in sprawling grounds. It’s a perfect spot for a picnic on a summer’s day.
Petworth House is a vast 17th-century country mansion, nestled in the heart of South Downs National Park. The house is crammed with fine art, including work by Turner. Deer roam on the extensive grounds, and the market town of Petworth has a plethora of antique shops to peruse.
The Rolling Hills and Valleys of the South Downs
The South Downs are a range of chalk hills that dominate East Sussex. A 100-mile pathway known as the South Downs Way runs from Winchester in the neighboring county of Hampshire, to the elegant seaside resort of Eastbourne.
The trail takes in some of the most beautiful spots in the county, including Seven Sisters Country Park and the dramatic cliffs of Beachy Head. Cute villages and excellent country pubs on route make ideal refreshment stops. Much of the pathway has panoramic views over the English Channel toward France.
For those not up to the challenge of trekking the whole route, sections of it can be undertaken in half a day or so.
Traditional Seaside Towns of the South Coast
From the sweeping dunes of Camber Sands to Brighton’s famous pebble beach, the Sussex coast is remarkably varied. The piers and promenades of Hastings, Eastbourne, Brighton and Worthing draw tourists and day-trippers from the capital. Each of the towns is unique, with a character of its own.
The Old Town of Hastings is a labyrinth of twisting streets, ancient buildings and distinctive towering fisherman’s huts. Eastbourne’s seafront is famous for its manicured flowerbeds and refined ambiance. High tea in the sumptuous surroundings of the Grand Hotel is another of the town’s most popular attractions.
Fantastic Festivities and Events
Wondering what to do in Sussex? The county plays host to a wealth of annual events and festivals. Brighton alone offers a feast of 60 festivals a year. From major events to carnivals to small alternative festivals, there is something to suit all tastes.
Eastbourne’s pre-Wimbledon international tennis tournament attracts fans from all over the United Kingdom. The world’s top players battle it out on the pristine lawns of the Devonshire Park.
Guy Fawkes Day
Lewes is home to the largest Guy Fawkes celebrations in England, taking place in November each year. The festival has its roots in paganism and attending is an intoxicating experience. Folks wearing fantastical costumes, carrying flaming torches parade through the streets. The pounding of drums and sound of firecrackers fill the air. Controversial effigies, usually of political and sometimes religious figures, are then burnt on a huge bonfire.
In Brighton each August, rainbow flags flutter from every building as the city plays host to one of the biggest Pride festivals in the country. The parade snakes through the downtown area to Preston Park, where an enormous party takes place. Street parties continue throughout the weekend with much of the seafront closed for continued revelry.
Brighton – A Fun Metropolis by the Sea
Brighton is often referred to as London by the sea and is a combination of seaside fun mixed with a creative and free-thinking vibe. The North Laine is alive with independent shops, funky cafes and cool street art. The city’s nightlife is legendary with clubs, live music venues, bars and restaurants galore.
The Royal Pavilion, Brighton’s iconic Indian-style palace of domes and minuets, is incongruously located in the heart of the city. The pavilion served as a party pad for the hedonistic Prince Regent, later King George IV, who had an appreciation for the city’s fun-loving attitude.
Sussex – A County of Contrasts
Sussex really does have the best of both worlds – rural countryside, refined seaside towns, pastoral villages and a vibrant seaside metropolis. Although Harry and Meghan’s new titles are no more than royal protocol, if they do ever decide to purchase a home in their fiefdom, they could do a lot worse than the beautiful and diverse county of Sussex.