5 English Heritage locations to visit in Sussex
24th November 2022
Getting out and about can be wonderful for the body and soul. Those in Sussex (both East and West) have no shortage of fantastic attractions to consider, especially when it comes to English Heritage sites. English Heritage boasts a wonderful collection of fascinating, historic locations, and, in both East and West Sussex, you can look forward to the likes of castles, abbeys, and locations pertaining to the massively important Norman invasion of 1066. If you are looking for your next excursion or somewhere interesting to take the grandkids perhaps, this guide highlights some of the amazing English Heritage locations available in Sussex.
Pevensey Castle in East Sussex has seen an incredible amount of history over its long life. This former 4th-century Roman Fort turned landing place of William the Conqueror during the Norman invasion of 1066 was also used as a stronghold during World War II. This ruined castle features ancient Roman walls, towers, medieval gatehouses, an unusual but impressive keep, and foundations of a 13th-century chapel.
The team at Visit 1066 Country, the official tourism website for this historic part of Sussex, were keen to share their thoughts about this delightful Sussex attraction, including some fascinating insight about its history: “Pevensey Castle began its life as a Roman Saxon's shore fort, within which the Normans built another oval shaped castle, now ruined. Pevensey is where William of Normandy landed with his troops and based themselves before setting off to clash with King Harold and his Saxon army north of Pevensey where the market town of Battle and Battle Abbey now lie.
“The castle features an interpretation that tells its story from Roman times to WWII. The dungeon can be visited all year round, as can two towers not previously accessible, and a new museum showcases jewellery, household items and weaponry.”
They also explain how “a new trail for children takes them on a mission around the castle and makes it a fun way to explore the castle.”
Accessibility at Pevensey Castle
For those with stair lifts and limited mobility, 1066 Country has shared this insight into Pevensey Castle’s accessibility: “The inner and outer bailey are accessible to wheelchair users via mainly compacted gravel paths and some rough grass; assistance may be necessary. There is level access to the lower exhibition in the North Tower and to the tearoom near the car park. There is disabled parking 300m from the entrance.”
You can read more about access at Pevensey Castle here.
Image credit: Suzanne Jones (The Travelbunny)
Battle Abbey is an immensely important site in the history of England, being built on the site of the pivotal Battle of Hastings in 1066, which led to the Norman conquest of Saxon England led by William the Conqueror. At Battle Abbey in East Sussex, you can explore the most famous battlefield in England as well as discover the beautiful abbey – now known as Battle Abbey - built between 1067 and 1070 by William to mark his victory over King Harold. There’s also an interactive exhibition to learn more about the location, a grand gatehouse with stunning views over the battlefield, a Victorian walled garden, and fun things for kids to do like carrying a Norman shield.
Suzanne, from the travel blog, The Travelbunny, has visited Battle Abbey with her grandson and has shared what she enjoyed about the experience and also provided a top tip for visitors: “My favourite part of a visit to Battle Abbey is to climb one of the winding staircases in the gatehouse turrets to the rooftop. Once at the top you'll get 360-degree views over Battle High Street and the Sussex countryside. See if you can spot the windmill.
“My tip for visiting Battle Abbey is to take your time as there are many different areas to explore including the ruins, exhibition, the battlefield, walled garden and gatehouse. Be sure to use the excellent audio guide which will give you added insights into this fascinating part of English history. You can easily make a whole day of it if you explore the town of Battle on your visit.”
Janis, from the travel blog Our World for You, has shared what she enjoyed most about Battle Abbey and a recommendation to consider: “Battle Abbey is such a pleasure to visit. The strong sense of history you gain from strolling through the poignant battlefield and wandering amongst the abbey ruins is incredible. It’s so peaceful.
“I highly recommend picking up the circular route that takes you across the battlefield and back through the dappled woodland. It enables you to reflect on the enormity of the conflict that unfolded here nearly 1,000 years ago.”
Visit 1066 Country has also shared some great insight into what makes Battle Abbey such a special heritage site: “Battle Abbey makes the perfect day out for all the family and even the dog too. Walk the battlefield - either the short or longer trail, with information panels explaining what happened at the Battle of Hastings.
“The visitor centre brings to life one of the most famous battles in English history and the annual re-enactment of the Battle of Hastings every October is an event that families really shouldn't miss. Later in October, there is Halloween half term and ghost tours for all the family to enjoy.”
Accessibility at Battle Abbey
Regarding accessibility at Battle Abbey, Visit 1066 Country shares: “There are mobility scooters available for loan and a separate accessible entrance for wheelchair users. There is a suggested route for visitors with limited mobility.”
You can also find disabled parking, a lift in the visitor centre and accessible toilets.
You can read more about access at Battle Abbey here.
Bayham Old Abbey
Located on the Sussex/Kent border, Bayham Old Abbey is an early 12th-century monastery that was dissolved in the 16th century. These impressive ruins include plenty to fascinate and explore, including a 13th-15th century church, a chapter house, and a scenic 14th-century gatehouse. Bayham Abbey is also set amid lovely grounds, beautifully landscaped by famous landscaper Humphry Repton. Enclosed by a moat on three sides, Bayham Abbey makes for a lovely trip, sporting gorgeous architectural features, a peaceful riverside location, and the Georgian Dower House.
Angela, from the travel blog, Where Angie Wanders, has visited Bayham Old Abbey and has shared why she feels people should stop by: “If you love stepping back in time then a trip to Bayham Old Abbey in Tunbridge Wells is a place that will ignite your interest. I enjoyed wandering through the archways and pathways imagining what life would have been like at Bayham in the 13th century. I found the information boards interesting as they showed graphics of how the original monastery would have looked; it was pretty impressive. After that, I found a quiet spot in the sun to just sit and absorb my surroundings. Bayham Old Abbey is also a nice place to have a picnic with family and friends in a unique setting.”
Accessibility at Bayham Old Abbey
In terms of accessibility at Bayham Old Abbey, the site features undulating grass and gravel paths but there is seating around the grounds to stop off and rest. The abbey is accessed from grass onto gravel areas and Dower House is only accessible via steps.
You can read more about access at Bayham Old Abbey here.
Built by Henry VIII, Camber Castle is a historic fortress in East Sussex designed to protect the port of Rye when there was a threat of French invasion. Part of Camber Castle’s charm is its remote nature, only accessible via a one-mile-long walk along footpaths and through a lovely nature reserve. You can view the gorgeous, geometric exterior at any time but access inside the castle is only available via a guided tour by Sussex Wildlife Trust – see the opening dates and times. If you fancy a relaxing stroll to the castle, you can also extend it along the many footpaths of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, and it’s also only a 30-minute drive away from Battle Abbey if you want to see two fantastic English Heritage sites in one day.
Accessibility at Camber Castle
Those with limited mobility who want to visit Camber Castle need to be aware that there is no road access, the only way to reach the castle is by foot. There is uneven ground and gravel pathways to contend with and while there isn’t anything in the way of facilities, assistance dogs are welcome for those who require them.
You can read more about access at Camber Castle here.
Boxgrove Priory in West Sussex is a beautiful location to visit, being the ruins of the old 12th-century priory and the stunning parish church that still remains. The ruins consist of the Benedictine guesthouse which is lovely to explore amidst a peaceful location and next door is the priory’s church, which has been in use for 900 years. Sporting beautiful Norman influence, Renaissance carvings, French motifs, and a truly stunning ceiling, those in search of beauty will adore this historic place of worship.
Kathryn, from the travel blog Travel With Kat, has been to Boxgrove Priory, sharing some of her highlights from the location, as well as a few recommendations and tips: “There are many wonderful churches throughout Sussex but Boxgrove Priory is one of my favourites. As well as having a particularly serene atmosphere, it has many layers of history reaching back over a thousand years, right up to the present day. Two highlights for me are the beautiful historic painted ceiling and the modern labyrinth. Take a quiet moment to walk the labyrinth and soak up the meditative and calming atmosphere.
“Other not to be missed attractions in the area are the enchanting tree tunnel leading to a restored windmill perched on a hilltop overlooking the rolling hills of the South Downs National Park. For food, try the nearby Farmer, Butcher, Chef, part of the Goodwood Estate or the Anglesey Arms in Halnaker.
“If you'd like to know more about the area's history and learn about local folklore, join one of my guided walks.”
Accessibility at Boxgrove Priory
There are uneven surfaces at Boxgrove Priory around the old guesthouse ruins so those with limited mobility might need to watch their footing at times. There is a car park to make use of and dogs are welcome.
For accessibility info at the in-use Boxgrove Priory church, please contact the church itself.
English Heritage locations to visit in Sussex
- Pevensey Castle
- Battle Abbey
- Bayham Old Abbey
- Camber Castle
- Boxgrove Priory
If you are looking for a lovely activity to enjoy alone, with friends, or with family in Sussex, these English Heritage locations will be terrific options to consider.
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This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.