Re-charge your batteries with a

family weekend in Bexhill.

Arrive on Friday evening and settle your family into your B&B or self-catering holiday let, caravan or tent. If you donít want to take the self-catering too literally, thereís an abundance of local restaurants and traditional fish and chips or other take-aways that will deliver to you.

On Saturday morning do visit the De La Warr Pavilion and check the exhibitions. There are often activities for children inside the pavilion, but if the weather is hot then the water feature on the prom will help to keep everyone cool.

The De La Warr Pavilion is in the middle of the Coastal Culture Trail, a cycle trail linking three galleries; the Towner in Eastbourne, via Bexhill to the Jerwood in Hastings. The cycle path from Bexhill to Hastings in entirely off road, and there are plenty of watering holes en route. You can hire return cycles at any of the galleries.

After lunch, a short drive or train ride to Pevensey and Westham takes you to the historic village where William the Conqueror landed in 1066 and built a flat-pack castle. It was one of three the invaders brought from Normandy. It stood on the site of Anderida, a Roman fort. Later, the Normans built a stone castle there. The beautiful adjacent Grade I listed St Mary's church was also built for William I; thereís an interesting graveyard there leading to beautiful meadows beyond. In the milder months there are excellent camping facilities in Pevensey, Westham and in Normans Bay.

Driving back across the levels to Bexhill you will pass the Star Inn, near to ĎWillow Totí. This is where the infamous Little Common Gang kept their two luggers, in the marshes concealed from the customs men. In the 17th and 18th centuries smuggling was rife on the Sussex coast due to the proximity of both the London market and the continental coast. Bexhill was a village of about a hundred dwellings about a mile inland. There was no harbour at Bexhill which made it an ideal landing place for smugglers to land contraband on the beach unseen and unheard. Smuggling was large-scale, organised crime and here and in Hastings many of the buildings, in particular the inns, had cellars which were linked to each other by secret underground passages.

On Sunday, if you havenít visited Bexhill Museum yet then donít miss this! It is a private museum operated entirely by volunteers. It tells the story of Bexhill through fascinating exhibits and interactive displays.

Adjoining the Museum is Egerton Park. It has an award-winning childrenís play area, a boating lake, sensory garden features and some beautifully tactile statuary reflecting the local pre-historic heritage.

Before you leave, make sure you fit in a visit to the Old Town which is just up the hill via Sea Road or the A259. Here are the remains of the Elizabethan Manor where Jane Austen may have stayed. Opposite is medieval Church Street leading to the Grade II* St Peterís Church. It is on land which may be the land granted by King Offa in 772 to Bishop Oswald at Selsey to build a monasterium. In the church is a carved stone slab, the Bexhill Stone, which builders discovered in 1878 under the nave. It may be the lid of a box that contained holy relics, and dates from around 800.

Across the road from the Manor is Hanover House. In 1803, Hanoverian troops (who escaped Napoleon overran Hanover) came to England to serve King George III, Elector of Hanover. He formed the Kingís German Legion (KGL) and they fought as part of the British Army.

There were already barracks for the militia at the foot of Belle Hill when the KGL arrived in 1904. The KGL extended the barracks to house about 4,000 troops and remained here until Waterloo and accompanied the Duke of Wellington on several campaigns.

The Iron Duke, Wellington, inspected the troops on the KGLís parade ground, now Barrack Hall Park just off the High Street. The KGLís presence is marked in the street names Hanover Close and Barrack Rd. Hanover House, the home of Colonel Halkett, still bears its name above the door, and Barrack Hall Memorial Gardens, in Barrack Road, was the KGLís burial ground.

Throughout the summer Bexhill is host to a range of quirky festivals ranging from 1960s Revolution to Motofest, a celebration of motorcycling and very loud music. Have a look at our events pages for festival dates.


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