Bexhill-on-Sea (usually simply Bexhill) is a town and seaside resort in the county of East Sussex, in the south of England within the Rother District Council area. The Anglo-Saxon name for the settlement was Bexelei from leah a glade, where box grows.
The earliest known occupation of the site come from the discovery of primitive boats at Egerton Park. The town came into official existence with the Charter of 772. In this charter, King Offa II, King of Mercia, granted to Bishop Oswald land to build a church. Three hundred years later around 1066, William the Conqueror gave the Rape of Hastings, including the captured town of Bexhill to Robert, Count of Eu as the spoils of victory.
Map of Bexhill
The church owned Bexhill Manor until Queen Elizabeth I acquired it in 1590 and granted it to Thomas Sackville, then Baron Buckhurst. Thomas became the 1st Earl of Dorset in 1603. In 1813, when the male line of the earldom had died out, Elizabeth Sackville married the 5th Earl De La Warr and she and her husband inherited Bexhill. This early history can still be seen in street names, with Sackville Road, Buckhurst Road, De La Warr Parade, and King Offa Way being some of the most significant roads in the town.
Smuggling was rife in the area in the early 19th century: in 1828 the local Little Common Gang were involved in what was known as the Battle of Sidley Green, a nearby hamlet.
Bexhill as a seaside resort
The 7th Earl 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. Large houses were built inland from there, and the new town began. In 1890 the luxurious Sackville Hotel was a built.
The railway built by the Brighton, Lewes and Hastings Railway (later part of the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway had 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: the line closed on 15 June 1964.
Bexhill was the location for the first motor race in the United Kingdom, in 1902. It is also the location of The De La Warr Pavilion, a brainchild of the 7th Earl and opened in 1935, the first British example of modern architecture in a public building. It closed for major restoration work in 2003 and reopened in October of 2005.
The town, like many other English seaside resorts, is now much more a settled community. Although there is a small entertainment area on the seafront, it now caters for more mature residents, having the highest retired population of any UK town.
The De La Warr Pavilion
Noted individuals associated with Bexhill
Alice Fuller live there. Inventor of television John Logie Baird resided in a house by the station toward the end of his life.
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