Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for SUSSEX

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 936,911 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 gault, 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 under-lying rocks; and they vary from sterile sand in the Forest Ridge to very stiff loam in the Weald. Agricul- ture is not in a very advanced condition. About 30,000 acres of marsh-land, chiefly around Pevensey, are used mainly for fattening cattle; and from 8,000 to 10,000 acres elsewhere are under hops. 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. Chicory, rhubarb, coleseed, and some other cropsare limitedlyraised. Farms commonly run from 1,200 to 2,000 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; and they number about 450,000, and yield about 2½ lbs. of wool per fleece. Manufactures are inconsiderable. The rivers Rother, Ouse, Adur, and Arun, and the Wey and Arun canal afford important inland navigation. Railways traverse and intersect most parts of the county; and have, of late years, been much extended and ramified. The roads, so long ago as 1814, comprised 558 miles of paved streets and turnpikes, and 2,333 miles of other highways used for wheeled carriages.

Sussex contains 317 parishes, parts of 4 others, and 5 extra-parochial tracts; and is divided into 4 boroughs and 6 rapes. The act of 1844, for consolidating detached parts of counties, transferred 2,618 acres to it from Hants. The registration county likewise takes in 17,348 acres from Kent and Surrey; comprises altogether 949,581 acres; and is divided into 20 districts. Lewes is the seat of assizes; 14 towns have each a pop of above 2,000; and there are about 375 smaller towns, villages and hamlets, The chief seats include 20 of noblemen, 10 of baronets, and amount altogether to about 182. The county is governed by a lord lieutenant and custos, a high-sheriff, about 90 deputy-lieutenants, and about 380 magistrates; is in the Home Military district, and the Home judiciary circuit; and is conterminate with the diocese of Chichester. County jails are at Lewes and Petworth, and a town jail is at Rye. The police force, in 1864, exclusive of that in the boroughs, comprised 181 men, at an annual cost of £16,548; the crimes committed were 298; the persons apprehended, 221; the known depredators and suspected persons at large, 1,044; the houses of bad character, 64. The county, exclusive of the boroughs, sends two members to parliament from its E division, and two from its W div. Electors of the E div. in 1833, 3,437; in 1865, 6,670. Electors of the W div. in 1833, 2,365; in 1865, 2,607. The Poor rates for the registration county, in 1863, were £225,756. Marriages in 1863, 2,923,-of which 382 were not according to the rites of the Established Church; births, 11,614,-of which 737 were illegitimate; deaths, 7,192,-of which 2,378 were at ages under 5 years, and 223 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 24,939; births, 107,881; deaths, 67,028. The places of worship within the electoral county, in 1851, were 350 of the Church of England, with 108,076 sittings; 78 of Independents, with 17,787 s.; 50 of Baptists, with 11,172 s.; 5 of Quakers, with 1,057 s.; 5 of Unitarians, with 1,852 s.; 63 of Wesleyans, with 11,018 s.; 5 of Primitive Methodists, with 506 s.; 12 of Bible Christians, with 1,211 s.; 5 of Lady Huntingdon's Connexion, with 1,963 s.; 32 of isolated congregations, with 4,819 s.; 1 of the Catholic and Apostolic Church, with 300 s.; 2 of Latter Day Saints, with 250 s.; 8 of Roman Catholics, with 902 s.; and 1 of Jews, with 75 s. The schools were 359 public day-schools, with 29,655 scholars; 819 private day-schools, with 16,514 s.; 363 Sunday schools, with 29,570 s.; and 30 evening schools for adults, with 695 s. Real property, in 1815, £919,350; in 1843, £1,676,999; in 1860, £2,041,344,-of which £1,031 were in quarries £782 in canals, and £10,790 in gasworks. Pop. in 1801, 159,471; in 1821, 233,328; in 1841, 300,075; in 1861, 363,735. Inhabited houses, 65,578; uninhabited, 2,808; building, 430. Pop. of the registration county in 1851, 339,604; in 1861, 366,836. Inhabited houses, 66,182; uninhabited, 2,829; building, 432.

The territory now forming Sussex was inhabited by the ancient British Regni; was included by the Romans in their Britannia Prima; was overrun, in 477-50, by Ella the Saxon; became then the kingdom of Sudsexe or the South Saxons; was united, about 728 to Wessex; suffered much devastation at different times by the Danes, and in 1051 by Earl Godwin; was the scene of the landing, and of the decisive victory, of William the Conqueror; was divided by William among several of his chief followers, including the Earl of Mortaigne and W-de Warenne; became the scene at Lewes, of the great battle between Henry III. and his barons; shared in the turmoils and conflicts of the civil wars of Charles I.; and gave the title of Duke to the sixth son of George III. Ancient British entrenchments, and many barrows, are on the South Downs. A chain of camps, some of them Roman, occurs on such of these hills as command both the sea-board and the Weald. Roman stations were at Bignor, Chichester, Midhurst, Lewes, Pevensey, Aldington, and Amberley. Roman roads connected the stations, and went toward the N. Many minor Roman antiquities, including a temple, villas, baths, pavements, urns, and coins, have been found. Saxon architecture has left vestiges at Worth, Jevington, Sompting, and Bosham. Early military architecture, from Norman to Edwardian, has left specimens in 7 places. Monastic architectural remains are in 7 places; Norman churches, or portions of them, in 7; transition Norman, in 9; early English, in 10; geometric decorated, in 6; curvilinear decorated, in 3; and later English, in 4.

(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a maritime county"   (ADL Feature Type: "countries, 2nd order divisions")
Administrative units: Sussex AncC
Place: Sussex

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