Bexhill-on-Sea (often simply Bexhill) is a town and seaside resort in the county of East Sussex, in the south of England, within the District of Rother. It has a population of approximately 40,000. The Anglo-Saxon name for the settlement was Bexelei, from leah—a glade where the box tree grows. The town came into official existence with the Charter of 772. In this charter, King Offa II, King of Mercia, granted land to Bishop Oswald to build a church. Three hundred years later, around 1066, William the Conqueror gave the Rape of Hastings, including the captured town of Bexhill (also referred to as the “Badman Town”), to Robert, Count of Eu, as the spoils of victory. Read my article about the Old Town of Bexhill.
In May 1902, the 8th Earl De La Warr worked, in conjunction with the Automobile Club of Great Britain and Ireland, subsequently the Royal Automobile Club, to organise the very first automobile racing on British soil. Such was the occasion that thousands flocked to Bexhill to witness the unique spectacle. Many had come to witness, for the first time on British soil, the spectacle of motor cars racing at speeds in excess of 50 mph when the speed limit of the day was a mere 12 mph.
Reginald Sackville, seventh Earl De La Warr, decided to transform what was then a village on a hill around its church into an exclusive seaside resort, which he named Bexhill-on-Sea. He was instrumental in building a sea wall south of the village, and the road above it was then named De La Warr Parade.
The De La Warr Pavilion, brainchild of the ninth Earl De La Warr, is an International Style building constructed in 1935, considered by some to be in an Art Deco style. Some claim it to be the first major Modernist public building in Britain, although in fact it was preceded by some months by the Dutch-influenced Hornsey Town Hall. The De La Warr Pavilion opened in 1935 as one of the earliest examples of Modern architecture in a major British public building. It closed for major restoration work in December 2003 and reopened in October 2005.
The new seafront building was the result of an architectural competition initiated by the Herbrand Sackville, 9th Earl De La Warr, after whom the building was named. The “De La Warr” in both the pavilion’s name and the earl’s name is pronounced “Delaware”.
In 2005, after an extensive programme of restoration and regeneration, the De La Warr Pavilion reopened as a contemporary arts centre, encompassing one of the largest galleries on the south coast of England. A small collection of archival materials related to the De La Warr Pavilion is collected in the Serge Chermayeff Papers held by the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library at Columbia University in New York City.
Like many other English seaside resorts, Bexhill is now a settled community. Although there is a small entertainment area on the seafront, it now has a large retired population, like much of the south coast. British comedian Eddie Izzard spent much of his childhood here, which must have shocked the population.
St Leonards Road. Nice shops. You will find several charity shops here, as well in Devonshire Road.
Devonshire Road is the “High Street” of Bexhill-on-Sea. (The actual High Street is in the Old Town.) Nice shops and restaurants have given the street the upgrade it deserves.
The railway built by the Brighton, Lewes and Hastings Railway (later part of the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway) arrived on 27 June 1846, although the present station was not built until 1891, when the town had become popular as a resort. A second line, this time built by the South Eastern Railway and approaching the town from the north, was a branch line from Crowhurst via an intermediate station at Sidley to a terminus at Bexhill West. The line opened on 1 June 1902 and closed on 15 June 1964.
Bexhill-on-Sea is now served by the coastal railway line between Ashford and Brighton and has three railway stations, including Cooden Beach, Collington, and Bexhill. Regular trains run to Brighton, Ashford and London.
Not far from the station, in Sea Road, you will find The Gael, where you can buy and rent Scottish kilts and other clothes. No, they don’t sell underpants.
Cooden is the upperclass area of Bexhill. It is in the southwest/west and plays host to a couple of hotels, a golf course and a beach. Imagine living in a house on the beach.
In the picture, painted by Frank Callaghan, lies the house of television personality Graham Norton, who won the award for Entertainment Performance at last night’s BAFTA TV Awards in London.
Situated just off the beach at Glyne Gap, between Bexhill and St Leonards, you will find the Ravenside Retail & Leisure Park. This is a destination shopping centre not just for the Bexhill locality, but for many people in the region. The Tesco food store and B&Q Warehouse provide major draws for shoppers who then have the choice of visiting Boots, Nex, Wickes, Currys, Pets at Home, McDonalds, KFC and PC World amongst others.
There are 881 car parking spaces, but sometimes that doesn’t seem to be enough, usually on Saturdays and Sundays, and especially when there’s a car boot sale at Glyne Gap on Sundays.
Offering a great swimming experience for the whole family, Bexhill Leisure pool has a flume and wave machine making it the ideal place for having fun in the water. The L shaped pool is also popular for lane swimming and whether you come for fitness, relaxation, or just for the enjoyment, you are sure to have a good time.
The pool centre also has a small gym, sauna, sun bed, café, and a shop.