West Sussex is a county in South East England on the English Channel coast. The ceremonial county comprises the shire districts of Adur, Arun, Chichester, Horsham, and Mid Sussex, and the boroughs of Crawley and Worthing. Covering an area of 1,991 square kilometres (769 sq mi), West Sussex borders
Hampshire Hampshire (, ; abbreviated to Hants) is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan county in western South East England on the coast of the English Channel. Home to two major English cities on its south coast, Southampton and Portsmouth, Hampshire ...
to the west, Surrey to the north, and East Sussex to the east. The county town and only city in West Sussex is Chichester, located in the south-west of the county. This was legally formalised with the establishment of West Sussex County Council in 1889 but within the ceremonial County of Sussex. After the reorganisation of local government in 1974, the ceremonial function of the historic county of Sussex was divided into two separate counties, West Sussex and East Sussex. The existing East and West Sussex councils took control respectively, with Mid Sussex and parts of Crawley being transferred to the West Sussex administration from East Sussex. In the 2011 census, West Sussex recorded a population of 806,900. The county has a long history of human settlement dating back to the Lower Paleolithic era. The Romans conquered West Sussex's indigenous Britons, and incorporated the area as a
Roman province The Roman provinces (Latin: ''provincia'', pl. ''provinciae'') were the administrative regions of Ancient Rome outside Roman Italy that were controlled by the Romans under the Roman Republic and later the Roman Empire. Each province was ru ...
. During the Early Middle Ages, the Saxons settled the area, establishing the
Kingdom of Sussex la, Regnum Sussaxonum , conventional_long_name = Kingdom of the South Saxons , capital = , era = Heptarchy , status = Vassal of Wessex (686–726, 827–860)Vassal of Mercia (771–796) , governm ...
in 477, which lasted until when the kingdom was annexed by Wessex. West Sussex has a range of scenery, including wealden,
downland Downland, chalkland, chalk downs or just downs are areas of open chalk hills, such as the North Downs. This term is used to describe the characteristic landscape in southern England where chalk is exposed at the surface. The name "downs" is deri ...
and coastal. The highest point of the county is Blackdown, at 280 metres (919 ft). It has a number of stately homes including Goodwood, Petworth House and Uppark, and castles such as Arundel Castle and Bramber Castle. Over half the county is protected countryside, offering walking, cycling and other recreational opportunities.


Although the name Sussex, derived from the
Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language, spoken in England and southern and eastern Scotland in the early Middle Ages. It was brought to Great Britain by Anglo-Saxon settlers in the mid-5th ...
'Sūþsēaxe' (' South Saxons'), dates from the Saxon period between AD 477 to 1066, the history of human habitation in Sussex goes back to the Old Stone Age.Armstrong. History of Sussex. Chapter 2. The first Inhabitants The oldest hominin remains known in Britain were found at Eartham Pit, Boxgrove. Sussex has been occupied since those times and has succumbed to various invasions and migrations throughout its long history. Prehistoric monuments include the Devil's Jumps, a group of
Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a historic period, lasting approximately from 3300 BC to 1200 BC, characterized by the use of bronze, the presence of writing in some areas, and other early features of urban civilization. The Bronze Age is the second pr ...
burial mounds, and the Iron Age Cissbury Ring and Chanctonbury Ring hill forts on the South Downs. The Roman period saw the building of Fishbourne Roman Palace and rural villas such as Bignor Roman Villa together with a network of roads including Stane Street, the Chichester to Silchester Way and the Sussex Greensand Way. The Romans used the Weald for iron production on an industrial scale. The foundation of the
Kingdom of Sussex la, Regnum Sussaxonum , conventional_long_name = Kingdom of the South Saxons , capital = , era = Heptarchy , status = Vassal of Wessex (686–726, 827–860)Vassal of Mercia (771–796) , governm ...
is recorded by the ''
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle The ''Anglo-Saxon Chronicle'' is a collection of annals in Old English, chronicling the history of the Anglo-Saxons. The original manuscript of the ''Chronicle'' was created late in the 9th century, probably in Wessex, during the reign of Al ...
'' for the year AD 477; it says that Ælle arrived at a place called Cymenshore in three ships with his three sons and killed or put to flight the local inhabitants. The foundation story is regarded as somewhat of a myth by most historians, although the archaeology suggests that Saxons did start to settle in the area in the late 5th century.
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle The ''Anglo-Saxon Chronicle'' is a collection of annals in Old English, chronicling the history of the Anglo-Saxons. The original manuscript of the ''Chronicle'' was created late in the 9th century, probably in Wessex, during the reign of Al ...
Parker MS. 477AD.
The Kingdom of Sussex was absorbed into Wessex as an earldom and became the county of Sussex. With its origins in the
kingdom of Sussex la, Regnum Sussaxonum , conventional_long_name = Kingdom of the South Saxons , capital = , era = Heptarchy , status = Vassal of Wessex (686–726, 827–860)Vassal of Mercia (771–796) , governm ...
, the later county of Sussex was traditionally divided into six units known as rapes. By the 16th century, the three western rapes were grouped together informally, having their own separate Quarter Sessions. These were administered by a separate county council from 1888, the county of Sussex being divided for administrative purposes into the administrative counties of East and West Sussex. In 1974, West Sussex was made a single ceremonial county with the coming into force of the Local Government Act 1972. At the same time a large part of the eastern rape of Lewes (the Mid Sussex district which includes the towns of Haywards Heath, Burgess Hill and East Grinstead) was transferred into West Sussex.

Provision for paupers

Until 1834 provision for the poor and destitute in West Sussex was made at parish level. From 1835 until 1948 eleven Poor Law Unions, each catering for several parishes, took on the job.


Most settlements in West Sussex are either along the south coast or in Mid Sussex, near the M23/ A23 corridor. The town of Crawley is the largest in the county with an estimated population of 106,600. The coastal settlement of Worthing closely follows with a population of 104,600. The seaside resort of Bognor Regis and market town Horsham are both large towns. Chichester, the county town, has a cathedral and city status, and is situated not far from the border with
Hampshire Hampshire (, ; abbreviated to Hants) is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan county in western South East England on the coast of the English Channel. Home to two major English cities on its south coast, Southampton and Portsmouth, Hampshire ...
. Other conurbations of a similar size are Burgess Hill, East Grinstead and Haywards Heath in the Mid Sussex district, Littlehampton in the Arun district, and Lancing, Southwick and Shoreham in the Adur district. Much of the coastal town population is part of the Brighton/Worthing/Littlehampton conurbation. Rustington and Southwater are the next largest settlements in the county. There are several more towns in West Sussex, although they are of similar size to other villages. The smaller towns of the county are Arundel, Midhurst, Petworth, Selsey and Steyning. The larger villages are Billingshurst, Copthorne, Crawley Down, Cuckfield, Henfield, Hassocks, Hurstpierpoint, Lindfield, Pulborough and Storrington. The current total population of the county makes up 1.53% of England's population.


Physical geography

West Sussex is bordered by Hampshire to the west, Surrey to the north and East Sussex to the east. The English Channel lies to the south. The area has been formed from Upper Jurassic and Lower Cretaceous rock strata, part of the Weald–Artois Anticline. The eastern part of this ridge, the Weald of Kent, Sussex and Surrey has been greatly eroded, with the chalk surface removed to expose older Lower Cretaceous rocks of the Wealden Group. In West Sussex the exposed rock becomes older towards the north of the county with Lower Greensand ridges along the border with Surrey including the highest point of the county at Blackdown. Erosion of softer sand and clay strata has hollowed out the basin of the Weald leaving a north facing scarp slope of the chalk which runs east and west across the whole county, broken only by the valleys of the River Arun and River Adur. In addition to these two rivers which drain most of the county a winterbourne, the River Lavant, flows intermittently from springs on the dip slope of the chalk downs north of Chichester. The county makes up 1.52% of the total land of
England England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. It is separated from continental Europe ...
, making it the 30th largest county in the country.


West Sussex is the sunniest county in the United Kingdom, according to Met Office records. Over the 29 years to 2011 it averaged 1902 hours of sunshine per year. Sunshine totals are highest near the coast with Bognor Regis often having the highest in mainland England, including a total of 2237 hours in 1990. Mean annual temperature for southern coastal counties is around 11 °C. The coldest month, January, has mean daily minimum temperatures of around 3 °C near the coast and lower inland. July tends to be the warmest month when mean daily maxima tend to be around 20 °C. A maximum temperature of 35.4 °C occurred at North Heath, Pulborough on 26 June 1976. Coastal high temperatures are often moderated by cooler sea breezes. Monthly rainfall tends to be highest in autumn and early winter and lowest in the summer months, with July often being the driest month. There is less rainfall from summer convective showers and thunderstorms than in inland areas. The county can suffer both from localised flooding caused by heavy rainfall and from water shortages caused by prolonged periods of below average rainfall. Winter rainfall is needed to recharge the chalk aquifers from which much of the water supply is drawn.

Land economy

West Sussex developed distinctive land uses along with its neighbours in the weald. The Landrace cattle transformed into Sussex cattle and Sussex chickens emerged about the time of the Roman conquest.Hobson, Jeremy and Lewis, Celia. ''Choosing & Raising Chickens: The complete guide to breeds and welfare''. Daniel and Charles Publishing. London. 2009. p 94-95 Some of the earliest evidence of horses in Britain has been found at Boxgrove, dated to 500,000 BC. Viticulture is a part of the economy, with wineries producing mainly sparkling wine of varied quality.

Communications and transport

The M23 Motorway runs from London to the south of Crawley. The A23 and A24 roads run from
London London is the capital and largest city of England and the United Kingdom, with a population of just under 9 million. It stands on the River Thames in south-east England at the head of a estuary down to the North Sea, and has been a ma ...
to Brighton and Worthing respectively with the A29 a little further west ending in Bognor Regis. Other major roads are the A272 which runs east to west through the middle of the county and the A27 which does the same but closer to the coast. The A259 is a local alternate route to the A27 in the eastern coastal strip. Gatwick Airport, which handled over 33 million passengers and had over 250,000 aircraft movements in 2011, is located within the borders of Crawley, and is the second largest airport in the United Kingdom. There is also a considerably smaller local airport at Shoreham and a grass airfield handling light aircraft and helicopters at Goodwood. There are three main railway routes: the Brighton Main Line, the Arun Valley Line and the West Coastway Line. The Portsmouth Direct Line serves and occasionally enters the westernmost part of West Sussex, although it has no railway stations in the county.


Members of Parliament

Since the 2015 general election, West Sussex has been represented entirely by Conservative Members of Parliament (MPs).

County Council

West Sussex County Council (WSCC) is the authority that governs the non-metropolitan county of West Sussex. The county contains 7 district and borough councils ( Adur, Arun, Chichester, Crawley, Horsham, Mid Sussex and Worthing), and 159 town, parish and neighbourhood councils. West Sussex County Council has 71
councillor A councillor is an elected representative for a local government council in some countries. Canada Due to the control that the provinces have over their municipal governments, terms that councillors serve vary from province to province. Unl ...
s; the majority of them being Conservative. There are 46 Conservative councillors, 10 UK Independence Party, 8 Liberal Democrats, 6 Labour Party councillors and 1
Independent Independent or Independents may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Artist groups * Independents (artist group), a group of modernist painters based in the New Hope, Pennsylvania, area of the United States during the early 1930s * Independ ...
councillor. The Chief Executive and his team of Executive Directors are responsible for the day-to-day running of the council. West Sussex County Council is based at County Hall, Chichester and provides a large range of services including education, social services, fire and rescue, libraries, trading standards, town and country planning, refuse disposal and consumer services.

West Sussex Youth Cabinet

The West Sussex Youth Cabinet is a group of local representatives and four UK Youth Parliament (UKYP) representatives, who are elected by young people in West Sussex. The Youth Cabinet represents the views of the young people West Sussex at county level. Elections for the Youth Cabinet and UKYP in West Sussex run every year in March.

Places of interest

Nature and zoos

* Chichester Harbour * Pagham Harbour – A protected area of wetland that is an important feeding ground for birds. * RSPB Pulborough Brooks * Selsey Bill * South Downs Way – a long distance footpath * Stansted Park * St Leonard's Forest * Tilgate Park * Wakehurst Place * Warnham Local Nature Reserve, a 92-acre site with visitor centre * WWT Arundel (a nature reserve of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust)

Castles, houses and other buildings

* Arundel Castle * Barnham Windmill * Bramber Castle * Christ's Hospital, an old charitable school notable for its archaic uniforms and picturesque campus. * Goodwood House and Goodwood Motor Circuit * High Salvington windmill * Hurstpierpoint College, a public school, notable for its substantial Sussex flint buildings and large campus. *
Lancing College Lancing College is a public school (English independent day and boarding school for pupils aged 13–18) in southern England, UK. The school is located in West Sussex, east of Worthing near the village of Lancing, on the south coast of England. ...
, a public school, notable for its substantial Sussex sandstone chapel and large campus. * Seaford College, a public school known for its large campus * Nymans house and gardens, a National Trust property near Handcross, Haywards Heath * Petworth House and deer park. * Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead, where Sir Archibald McIndoe carried out reconstructive surgery for burns patients during the Second World War. * Sackville College, a Jacobean almshouse in East Grinstead * Shipley Windmill, (no longer open to the public). * Standen, East Grinstead * Uppark, a 17th-century mansion high on the South Downs.

Religious buildings

The Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity, otherwise called Chichester Cathedral, is the seat of the Anglican Bishop of Chichester. It was founded as a cathedral in 1075, when the seat of the bishop was moved from Selsey Abbey.Tim Tatton-Brown and John Crook, ''The English Cathedral'', New Holland (2002), The cathedral has architecture in both the Norman and the Gothic styles, and has been called by the architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner "the most typical English Cathedral". The Cathedral Church of Our Lady and St Philip Howard in Arundel is the Roman Catholic cathedral of the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. Built in French Gothic style and dedicated in 1873 as the Catholic parish church of Arundel, it was not designated a cathedral until the foundation of the diocese in 1965. Bosham Church is partly of Saxon construction and is shown on the Bayeux Tapestry as the local church of late Saxon and Danish kings of England. Many other Saxon and early Norman have survived in the county with little alteration including the Church of St Mary the Blessed Virgin, Sompting, an 11th-century Anglo-Saxon church with a Rhenish helm unique in England and St. Nicholas Church, Worth, a 10th-century church in Worth, Crawley. Some Anglican churches and many of the numerous nonconformist chapels in the county have been converted to residential use. Cittaviveka is a Buddhist monastery in Chithurst.


* Worthing Museum & Art Gallery * Amberley Museum & Heritage Centre * Manor Cottage * Steyning Museum * Tangmere Military Aviation Museum * Horsham Museum * Weald and Downland Open Air Museum of historic buildings at Singleton * Wings Museum, Balcombe


Pallant House Gallery in Chichester houses one of the most significant collections of 20th-century British art outside London. It includes a substantial body of early and mid-20th-century work bequeathed by Walter Hussey and many later works donated by Sir Colin St John 'Sandy' Wilson. Worthing Museum and Art Gallery houses a large collection of Georgian and Victorian costume. The Cass Sculpture Foundation has an outdoor sculpture park at Goodwood.


BBC South covers the county excluding Haywards Heath, Burgess Hill, East Grinstead and Shoreham-by-Sea which are covered by BBC South East. ITV Meridian also covers the county. Crawley is covered by both regions and by BBC London and ITV London.

Economy and demography

This is a table of trend of regional gross value added of West Sussex at current basic prices published by ''Office for National Statistics'' with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling. Significant companies in the county include Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, a substantial employer near Chichester. Gatwick Airport, with associated airlines including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, is a major source of direct and indirect employment. Thales Group also has a presence in the county. Nestlé has their UK headquarters in Crawley. The table below shows the population change up to the 2011 census, contrasting the previous census. It also shows the proportion of residents in each district reliant upon lowest income and/or joblessness benefits, the national average proportion of which was 4.5% as at August 2012, the year for which latest datasets have been published. It can be seen that the most populous district of West Sussex is Arun containing the towns of Arundel, Bognor Regis and Littlehampton:


West Sussex has a comprehensive education system, with a mix of county-maintained secondary schools and academies and over twenty independent senior schools. In addition primary education is provided through a mix of around 240
infant An infant or baby is the very young offspring of human beings. ''Infant'' (from the Latin word ''infans'', meaning 'unable to speak' or 'speechless') is a formal or specialised synonym for the common term ''baby''. The terms may also be used t ...
, junior, primary, first and middle schools. Colleges include The College of Richard Collyer, Central Sussex College, Northbrook College and The Weald School. Independent schools in the county include Christ's Hospital near Horsham, whose students wear Tudor style uniform, Seaford College,
Lancing College Lancing College is a public school (English independent day and boarding school for pupils aged 13–18) in southern England, UK. The school is located in West Sussex, east of Worthing near the village of Lancing, on the south coast of England. ...
and Hurstpierpoint College. Tertiary education is provided by the University of Chichester and Chichester College.


At least 40 sports are active in West Sussex. Sussex was the first First-Class cricket county formed in 1839 and was a cradle for club cricket. Sussex is home to Fontwell Park Racecourse. The county has one Football League club located in Crawley, that is Crawley Town F.C.

See also

* List of Lord Lieutenants of West Sussex * List of High Sheriffs of West Sussex * List of hills of West Sussex * The Royal Sussex Regiment * Healthcare in Sussex


External links

West Sussex County Council

Images of West Sussex
at the English Heritage Archive {{authority control Non-metropolitan counties South East England Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership Counties of England established in 1974