Sussex, England


Sussex, a maritime county, bounded on the N by Surrey and Kent, on the NE and the E by Kent, on the S by the English Channel, on the W by Hants. Its form is a slender oblong, extending from E to W. Its greatest length is 73 miles, its greatest breadth is 25 miles, its circuit is about 185 miles, and its area is 933,269 acres. A belt of low land lies along most of the coast. A range of chalk-hills, called the South Downs, begins at Beachy Head, flanks the belt of low land all westward to the vicinity of Hants, and has a mean breadth of about 7 miles, and a mean altitude of about 500 feet. A congeries of elevations, called the Forest Ridge, commences near the E end of the South Downs, spreads east-north-eastward and northward to the boundary with Kent, and rises at the centre to an altitude of 804 feet. A low-wooded tract, the Weald of Sussex, with diversified surface, and fringed or engirt with uplands, forms all the area N of the South Downs and W of the Forest Ridge. The scenery of most parts, particularly among the higher grounds, is richly picturesque. The chief streams are the Rother, the Cuckmere, the Ouse, the Adur, the Arun, and the West Rother. Lower greensand rocks occupy about three-fourths of the entire area, inward from the N and the E boundaries; upper greensand rocks, with ganit, form a narrow belt along the S side of the lower greensand; chalk rocks form a much broader belt thence to the sea and to the vicinity of Chichester and Emsworth; and lower eocene rocks form a tract in the SW, around Chichester and Emsworth, and thence to the sea. Iron-ore abounds in the Forest Ridge, and once was extensively worked. Building chalk, manurial chalk, cement chalk, marl, brick-clay, fullers' earth, and red ochre are now the chief useful minerals.

The soils generally correspond in character to the underlying rocks, and they vary from sterile sand in the Forest Ridge to very stiff loam in the Weald. There are about 30,000 acres of marsh-land, chiefly around Pevensey, which are used mainly for fattening cattle. Wheat, barley, pulse, potatoes, turnips, and clover are generally grown on the best farms, and the potatoes yield from 400 to 700 bushels per acre. Hops are grown somewhat extensively, and chicory, rhubarb, and coleseed to a limited extent. Farms commonly run from 1200 to 2000 acres on the Downs, and to about 100 acres in the Weald, and are mostly held at will. The cattle are a native breed, fine-haired, and good milkers. The sheep are chiefly the native Southdowns, polled, hardy, and fine-wooled.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England and Wales, 1894-5
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Archives and Libraries

East Sussex Record Office
The Maltings
Castle Precincts
East Sussex
Tel: 01273 482349
Fax: 01273 482341

West Sussex Record Office
3 Orchard Street
West Sussex
PO19 1DD
Tel :  01243 753602
Fax : 01243 533959

Civil Registration

For general information about Civil Registration (births, marriages and deaths) see the Civil Registration page.

List of Registration Districts in Sussex from 1837 to 1974.

Directories & Gazetteers

The Historical Directories web site have a number of directories relating to Sussex online, including:
Kelly's, Pigot, Slater, etc.


Old map of Sussex circa 1848 (Samuel Lewis)

Old map of Sussex circa 1895 (Gazetteer of England and Wales)

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Sussex newspapers online:

Parishes and places

The towns and parishes have now been moved to a separate page.