For what’s on in Bexhill, very handy website Visit 1066 Country, is useful to bookmark while you’re here. On your doorstep – the Bexhill Museum, behind it Egerton Park for a nice stroll, plus of course the De La Warr Pavilion, and lovely seafront promenade.
For a very good list of the best Sussex has to offer, and a super friendly website, stroll through the Sussex Top Attractions website. Even we haven’t done all of these. Darn it we need to get down to Tobago more often!
Another awesome list of great places to visit is of course the English Heritage site – including of course the must-do trip to local town Battle with its Battle Abbey site – famous for, no prizes for guessing this – being the site of the Battle of Hastings.
You’re within good reach of National Trust properties, including Bateman’s, home of Rudyard Kipling; and Bodiam Castle – a proper bona fide full-on castle! To check what’s near, plug TN39 3YB into the National Trust’s location finder.
This is a must-visit tourist attraction in our opinion – whether you’re a big kid or a small one, whether you’re a science or a space nut, or not. We couldn’t believe we’d not spotted it before when sniffing out tourist spots.
A brilliant observatory, with tours, presentations and so many hands-on science exhibits that you almost need two visits to have a go on them all, including massive outdoor science installations of scale, and indoor exhibits too. Buttons to press, giant puzzles, demonstrations of how the earth works, what space is, light experiments, devilishly difficult conundrums to solve, and of course, a café and gift shop.
Even better – combine a day out at the Observatory Science Centre with a visit to Herstmonceux Castle, which is, we discovered by chance, slap bang on the same site. And yes, they have a joint ticket deal – but make sure you get this from the castle ticket booth, before going into the Observatory.
Pronounced ‘hurstmonZOO’, as we were reliably informed on our tour, this is one of the earliest examples of a brick built building in England. Herstmonceux Castle and Grounds is a 300 acre estate including the 15th century moated castle, woodland areas, and no less than seven formal themed gardens, including a folly and secret gardens, and woodland trails.
Like all good English castles you can of course get your face stuck into a traditional afternoon tea, in the Chestnut Tea Rooms.
Plan your tour to top off a morning at the Observatory (see previous tab). You could pack a picnic lunch to eat at one of the Observatory picnic tables, then head off to the Castle and its gardens, finishing with afternoon tea in the tea-rooms.
Check at the little gatehouse before buying any tickets for either Herstmonceux or the Observatory, because there is a ticket deal.
No trip to Eastbourne would be complete without a visit to the Towner art gallery. Family friendly, and with some first class exhibitions and curation, the Towner mounts a packed schedule of events, exhibitions and artist collaborations, so every visit promises to be new and different.
Chosen in February 2016 as one of only four Arts Council Collection National Partners, the Towner is playing host to some exciting programmes and events in the next three years.
The 2017 Eric Ravilious exhibition was a crowd-puller, but the Towner always has multiple exhibits, including interactive zones; exhibition A Certain Kind of Light is reviewed here in The Guardian.
We had a very tasty toastie here, bought some quality items in the gallery shop, and then strolled to the seafront promenade, which is within comfortable walking distance. Do not miss it.
No visit to Bexhill on Sea is allowed without a visit to the De La Warr. This lovely Art Deco space describes itself as ‘are a pioneering centre for arts and culture in an iconic modernist building by the sea’, and it is well worth checking out if you like art galleries.
There is a lovely cafe/restaurant which boasts lovely views and incredible light, and the shop is worth doing your Christmas shopping in alone, it’s so packed full of treats. The De La Warr underwent an extensive re-model in recent years, and it is now of central pride and importance in Bexhill – as beautiful as it is influential.
And while you’re there, do a survey amongst locals to see who pronounces it how. The jury seems to be out on Deh La WAR and Deh La WHERE. We got a bit lost in the phonetics and kept calling it the Deh La Wahh.
Bodiam Castle is a full-on proper no-messing castle. More specifically, according to the National Trust site, it is an ‘archetypal 14th century moated castle with ruined interior – a glimpse of medieval splendour’.
If you’re a castle lover, then you will already know of it, or have it on your Castle Bucket List, so get over there and enjoy a great day out. Bodiam enjoys a packed schedule of events throughout the year, including costumed events, walks, shows, storytelling, and family friendly events.
Follow your visit with a well-earned afternoon tea and a forage in the gift shop.
Hastings is a short drive (or even a cycle, if you go on the cuckoo trail – see above in Cycle Trails & Routes) with plenty of town parking. There is a wealth of touristy fun to be had in Hastings, depending on what your interests are. The tourist office in Hastings is in Aquila House, 2 Breeds Pl, Hastings TN34 3UY, 01424 451111.
We suggest you check out the Visit 1066 Country website (details above) for a thorough breakdown, but to give you a taster, you will find:
As a seaside town, it has a quirky mix of class and tat; it hasn’t avoided the usual ‘town centre’ planning of the latter half of the last century; but unless you like to visit identikit high street shops when you’re on holiday, you can choose instead to spend your time in the much more interesting old town and the seafront, with its ‘twittens’ (narrow alleyways) and the fisherman’s huts and Shipwreck Museum. Try and find your way through the maze of twittens up to the top, by following signs to the Smugglers Adventure, admiring gorgeous tiny cottages perched on the hill as you go.
If you like a bit of gaudy old British seaside, then Hastings delivers on crazy golf, fairground rides, a little train and the usual twinkling lights and electronic beeps of a garish games arcade, although this side of Hastings might be more to your taste if you have small persons in tow.
Hastings is home to a thriving arts community, as many coastal towns are, including a vibrant art scene, as well as antiques and vintage wares shopping. This means there are plenty of cool indie shops and cafés in the old town for you to explore. Hastings’ revitalised pier should be on your list, since it is National Piers Society’s Pier Of The Year winner, no less. For more on old Hastings, it’s worth checking out the preservation society, who do guided tours that sound fascinating www.ohps.org.uk.