The Pevensey area includes the seafront Pevensey Bay, a historic fishing village and delightful small settlement with a shingle beach renowned as a popular spot for windsurfing, sailing and kitesurfing. Three miles inland from Pevensey Bay sits Pevensey old village and the site of Pevensey Castle and an old Roman Fort. This was where William the Conqueror first landed en-route to the Battle of Hastings. When the Normans first constructed the mightly stone Pevensey Castle after the conquest the position of Pevensey village was on a strategic spit overlooking the Bay. This stretch of coastline has shifted and changed and today Pevensey Bay on the seafront is only just above sea level. The Napoleonic Martello Towers mark the Pevensey stretch of coastline, with several still standing between Norman's Bay and Langney Point near Eastbourne.
Pevensey Castle, now run by English Heritage, is essential viewing on the 1066 trail and is the starting point for the 31 mile long 1066 Country Walk which takes in all the major sites pertaining to the Battle of Hastings and the Norman invasion including the Battlefield site at Battle and Hastings Castle, culminating in medieval Rye. The castle remains remarkably intact with its twin towered gate house. An audio tour of the site is available and a gift shop and exhibit are on-site. Move through the gateway of the still standing Roman Walls, part of the original Roman fort at Pevensey, to explore historic Pevensey Village. The village contains numerous historic buildings including the Norman St Nicolas Church, the Old Mint House and the Pevensey Courthouse Museum which hosts Ghost Nights for the brave!
Pevensey Castle, one of William the Conqueror's great Norman Castles along the South East Coast, originally sat overlooking the sea and Bay on a spit. Today the castle is three miles inland and evidence of just how much this stretch of Sussex coast shifted and changed particularly during the great medieval storms.
The Normans however were not the first invaders to set up camp at Pevensey as the site's spectacular Roman Towered Walls remind. Pevensey in the 4th century (from AD43 to AD470) was one of the great mighty Roman 'Saxon Shore' Forts and part of the Roman city of Anderida. Integral later to the Norman conquest, it was at Pevensey that William the Conqueror first landed with his army. William had already learnt that King Harold of Wessex's English fleet was recuperating at London following a battering by gales. This gave William the motivation to proceed to attack by sea along with favourable winds, landing here at Pevensey unopposed and first errecting a timber and earthwork castle on the old Roman Fort. From Pevensey William then moved his forces to Hastings and then when learning of Harold's advance the Normans moved again 7 miles inland to Telham Hill and the Battle of Hastings site now at Battle. The Battle of Hastings, the most famous of all battles fought on English soil, then took place on 14th October 1066 beginning shortly after dawn.
Such is Pevensey's crucial place within the Norman invasion and essential visiting on the 1066 trail. After the conquest Pevensey was converted from timber structure to a mighty stone Norman Castle with keep, towered bailey wall and a twin towered gatehouse. The castle was later reinforced during the Tudor period in 1588 in preparation for defence against the Spanish Armada. The castle also saw service during World War II when machine gun posts and pillboxes were positioned here. Pevensey Castle is now run by English Heritage and you'll find a fascinating exhibition on-site displaying finds from the site including an Armada canon and an audio tour of the castle is available. Walk through the Roman gateway in the walls towards the first of the Norman churches built at Pevensey - St Nicholas. The marshes which sit between Pevensey Castle and the sea are known as the Pevensey Levels, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and due to the fragile nature of habitats here they are not open to the public. Read more on the Pevensey Levels via the Sussex Wildlife Trust's webguide.
Pevensey Castle, High Street, Pevensey, East Sussex BN24 5LE. Tel.01323 762604.
The Pevensey Courthouse Museum in historic Pevensey Village alongside the castle is housed in the old town hall dating from the 13th century. Courts met here right up until 1866 when the borough was dissolved. Widely believed to be haunted, the Courthouse Museum holds Haunted Ghosts Nights for the brave! See the Museum's webguide for details. Also inside, the old courthouse is presented as it was in the past and two cells are also within. The Courthouse is the smallest town hall in England.
Other historic buildings in Pevensey village include The Mint House and the striking Norman St Nicholas Church. The village also boasts a fine selection of character inns serving fine food and ale. The Old Mint House in Pevensey is now home to an antiques shop.
Pevensey Courthouse Museum, High Street, Pevensey BN24 5LF. Tel.01323 760547.
On the coast the small settlement of Pevensey Bay alongside a shingle beach is a hotspot for windsurfing and sailing (see Pevensey Sailing Club's webguide for details). The Cooden Beach area midway between Bexhill and Norman's Bay is particularly popular for windsurfing and kitesurfing.
The distinctive Napoleonic defensive martello towers are in the Pevensey Bay Area. Of the 74 Martello Towers originally built on the South East Coast, Tower 55 remains at Norman's Bay whilst Towers 60, 61, 62 and 64 remain between Pevensey Bay and Langney Point near Eastbourne. Tower 66 remains too at Langney Point. There were many more of these Napoleonic Martello Towers at onetime along this stretch of coast. Several have succumbed to the sea. For an interactive map of Martello Towers and a superb history guide to these fascinating defensive structures see the Martello Towers of the South Coast webguide.
Pevensey Information Point, Main Beach Car Park, Sea Road, Pevensey BN24 6EH. Tel. 01323 766230. Open Easter to Sept-end from 10am to 4pm and from end of September to East 10am to 1pm.