The School

About Bexhill

Who was King Offa


About Bexhill and East Sussex

A Brief History of Bexhill on Sea.

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Bexhill-on-Sea is a medium sized sea-side town with a population of 40,000. It is in East Sussex, on the south coast of England between the towns of Eastbourne and Hastings.

Although Bexhill did not really start to grow until the building of a sea wall in 1882, there were probably people living here back in the Bronze Age. Bronze Age instruments have been discovered in Normans Bay, not far from Bexhill and the hill on which Bexhill Old Town stands would have provided a useful vantage point.

St Peter’s Church, a manor and farm were built on this hill, on land given to Bishop Oswald by King Offa in 772AD after the king defeated the "Men of Hastings" in 771
During the Norman Conquest, in 1066, the manor fell into disrepair and was given to a Norman; Robert, Count of Eu. It was returned to the Bishops of Chichester in 1148. They built a new manor house in 1250. The manor remained in church hands until 1561 when Queen Elizabeth I acquired it. In 1564 she gave it to Sir Thomas Sackville, Earl of Dorset. The manor remained in the Sackville family until 1865, when it passed to the 5th Earl De La Warr who had married Elizabeth Sackville in 1813
. The De La Warr family were, in years to follow, responsible for much of the growth and innovation in the town and connections with the family remain to this day.
The Manor was later bought by the Harmsworth family (founder of the Daily Mail) and finally sold to the town in 1963, and in poor condition, was demolished in 1968. Today the only remains are the barn, gardens and some small bits of the original walls.

One of the greatest impacts on the town, then a hamlet of about 500 people, must have been the arrival of 5,000 Hanoverian troops of the King's German Legion, when from 1804 until 1814 Bexhill was to be their base. Also at this time, Martello towers were built along the coast, to protect England from any invasion mounted by Napoleon.

In 1882 the seventh Earl De La Warr, had a seawall built to protect the low-lying marsh lands and eastern sector of the town, he also laid out De La Warr Parade which runs along the seafront and built a luxury hotel, The Sackville. From then on the town started to develop rapidly.
During the Edwardian period Bexhill became the playground of the aristocracy and in 1901 was one of the first resorts to allow mixed bathing!
Whit Monday, 1902, saw the first motor race take place in Britain, staged here on Bexhill's seafront.

Bexhill's most important building is probably the De La Warr Pavilion, world famous for it's “modernist” architecture. The 9th Earl De La Warr, then mayor of Bexhill held a competition to design an entertainment centre to lure visitors to the town. The rules stipulated that the building must contain a concert hall,  restaurant and conference rooms; the cost to be no more than £80,000.
The winning design was by Eric Mendelsohn and Serge Chermayeff, Their design was to be the first large building constructed with a welded steel frame. The Pavilion was built during 1934/35 on the site of the old Coastguard cottages, and was officially opened on 12th December 1935. The opening ceremony was performed by The Duke and Duchess of York, (the Duke later became King George VI.)

The De La Warr Pavilion was re-opened in October 2005 after an £8 million restoration and refurbishment project. It is hoped that it will become the principal centre for contemporary art, architecture, education and entertainment on the south coast.

Bexhill is very well supplied with leisure facilities, catering for all tastes. We have a modern Leisure Centre with climbing walls, badminton courts, general sports hall, fitness gym and bar. Egerton Park provides tennis courts, a boating lake, children's playground, putting green, and indoor and outdoor bowls clubs. Golfers are provided for by two golf clubs, Highwoods and Cooden Beach. Those interested in water sports will find active rowing and sailing clubs, both also providing places to meet socially and windsurfers and kite surfers are a frequent sight along the beach at Herbrand Walk. There is also a Tennis and Badminton club at Cooden and an all weather football/basketball pitch at Bexhill College, were the Bexhill Giants Basketball Club meet. A swimming pool and bowling alley are available at the Ravenside Retail Park which is on the eastern border of the town. McDonalds and KFC restaurants are also available here.
The De La Warr Pavillion has two exhibition galleries, a theatre, restaurant and cafe/bar. There are also sun terraces and balconies looking out over the sea. The De La Warr are active in promoting activities, from art to skateboarding, for young people
Skateboarders are also provided for by a well equipped set of ramps behind the Leisure Centre and on Galley Hill.
Bexhill is home to many small groups and clubs providing for all interests ranging from line dancing and belly dancing to African drumming and swimming.

Shoppers are well catered for in Bexhill, the main shops being found on Western, Sackville, Devonshire and St Leonard's Roads. These shops consist mainly of small and  interesting independent shops, of the larger stores, Iceland, Boots and W H Smiths are situated in Devonshire Road and Sainsbury's have a store just north of the railway line in Town Hall Square.
Ravenside Retail Park provides a Tesco's, B&Q, Curry's, PC World, Comet, Halfords, Next, Wickes, Boots and Pets at Home stores.

Bexhill has several Junior schools, King Offa, Chantry, St Peter and St Paul's, All Saints, Sidley, Mary Magdelene's, Pebsham and Little Common. Secondary education is provided by Bexhill High School, due to move to a new building in September 2010, and St Richards Catholic College while the recently re-sited Bexhill College provides excellent further education facilities.

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The De La Warr Pavilion, seen from the promenade.

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The De La Warr Pavilion, looking West, over some of the gardens.

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The seafront, looking East, the memorial marks the start line of the 1902 seafront motor races.

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The Sailing Club, preparing the boats.

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The seafront looking West, towards Eastbourne with Beachy Head in the distance.

The Town Hall opened in 1895 by the Lord Mayor of London

The original part of the Station Road Youth Centre, built in 1887 as a reading room to mark Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee.

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