Go Back to the Main Page

Pevensey Pronounced As: pevnz is a small village in East Sussex, SE England, on the English Channel.
Modern Pevensey, called Pevensey Bay, is a shore resort. In the old town of Pevensey is the site of the Roman fort Anderida. The remains of Roman walls and a Norman castle can still be seen. The town, the landing place of William the Conqueror, was a member of the Cinque Ports. It declined after the recession of the sea. The Pevensey church is partly Early English.

About 340AD the Romans built the massive fortress of Anderida on what was than an uninhabited peninsula of land (along which the A27 road now runs) rising above the coastal marches. It closed the remaining gap along the southeast coast in their defensive network of forts against Saxon invaders. The sea washed over what is now Pevensey Marches surrounding Anderida on three sides, so giving a safe and sheltered landing point.

This marshy inlet of the sea, extending inland as far a Hailsham, was studded with small areas of high land which remained as islands at high tide so giving the place-names of Rickney, Horse Eye, North Eye and Pevensey. All derived from the Old English word 'eye' meaning island.

On the 28th September 1066. William, Duke of Normandy, landed at Pevensey with his invading force of boats, men and horses. He established his first strong point here, improving fortifications by digging ditches within the walls of the Roman Fort, before arching on to Hastings, then to Battle, where he defeated Harold's army on Senlac Hill.

In the three centuries following the Norman Conquest, Pevensey Castle had an eventful history, being besieged four times (twice successfully), and although by Tudor times it had become uninhabited, the threat of the Spanish Armanda renewed military interest in the site. The advent of World War II had a similar effect when the castle was refortified with 20th century defensive works and severed as an observation and command post.

About 1230 Pevensey became a corporate member of the Cinque Ports Confederation (attached to the port of Hastings) which Edward I had been charged with the duty of guarding the straits between England and the Continent. The quay on the southern and eastern sides of the town allowed merchant ships to tie up and unload cargo and Pevensey became an important small port. However, the gradual reclamation of the sea left the town about 0.75-mile inland, and with the silting up of the river, trade declined to almost nothing in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Smuggling provided a profitable sideline for the local people with contraband brandy from France or wool from sheep on the marshes shipped to the Continent. The last documented clash between smugglers and coastguards took place in 1833 when a boat laden with contraband was landed at Pevensey Bay. Although discovered, the smugglers were able to keep the coastguards at bay by constant fires while they unloaded the cargo. A running fight ensured as the smugglers retreated across the marsh, five smugglers were captured and three were reported dead

Pevensey Bay is an old fishing village founded in the 1600's as Wallsend , the end of the sea wall from Eastbourne . Even now it is only just above sea level, and at high tide in the winter, the sea sometimes breaks through the sea defences. The village is located about 2 miles to the east of Eastbourne , on the English Channel coastline, and about 3 miles south east of the old settlement of Pevensey .

This area was underwater during the Norman invasion, and only the constant erosion of Beachy Head at Eastbourne, has allowed the pebbles to build up. The area was originally a spit of land attached to Eastbourne , but with the sea level dropping, the shingle has now spread through to Bexhill in the east.

The area to the northeast, the Pevensey Levels is a natural haven for wild birds, flowers and animals. The area is very flat and still marshy, with many areas flooding in the winter.

Pevensey Bay was part of the Napoleonic defenses of England in the early 1800's. Many Martello towers were built between Eastbourne and Hastings to try to prevent invasion. The towers were manned by the army who were based at the barracks in Hailsham . At the time, the only people who lived here were a few fishermen, or smugglers.

In 1831 the Coastguard took over the coastal policing, and from 1832-33 a number of violent events occurred, culminating with a fight at Pevensey Sluice in 1833, which seemed to be the end of the smuggling in this area.

In the early 1900's the village became the holiday resort it is today with much of the coastline development started in the 1930's. Today it is a popular tourist attraction with the nearby historical Pevensey castle (1066 and all that).


Go Back to the Main Page