Infobox UK place
region=South East England

static_image_caption=Pevensey High Street
area_footnotes=cite web |url= |title=East Sussex in Figures |accessdate=2008-04-26 |publisher=East Sussex County Council]
area_total_km2 =17.6
population=3,152 (2007)
population_density= Pop density mi2 to km2|464|precision=0|abbr=yes
constituency_westminster=Bexhill and Battle
london_distance=convert|50|mi NNW
shire_county=East Sussex

Pevensey is a village and civil parish [ [ Pevensey Parish Council] ] in the Wealden district of East Sussex, England. The main village is located 5 miles (8 km) north-east of Eastbourne, one mile inland from Pevensey Bay. The settlement of Pevensey Bay forms part of the parish.


The village of Pevensey is located on a ridge of land, which juts out onto marshland. Until the 13th century the marshes were an inlet of the sea, extending inland as far north as Hailsham and eastwards to Hooe; it was studded with small areas of high land which became islands at high tide: and having the place-names — in addition to Peven’s sey — of Rickney, Horse Eye, and North Eye. All are derived from the Old English word "eye" meaning island.

With the effect of longshore drift this large bay was gradually cut off from the sea by shingle, so that today's marshes are all that remain behind the shingle beach. [ [ A 360 degree 'virtual reality' panorama of Pevensey Beach] ]

The marshes, known as the Pevensey Levels, cover an area of around 47 miles² (3,500 ha). They are a Site of Special Scientific Interest [cite web|url= |title=Natural England - SSSI (Pevensey Levels)|accessdate=2008-10-10|publisher=English Nature] and a large nature reserve, jointly owned by Natural England and the Sussex Wildlife Trust. [ [ The Pevensey Levels nature reserve] ] There are many nationally rare plants and invertebrates, including the fen raft spider. The site is very fragile and general access is not permitted.

Pevensey Bay

The settlement of Pevensey Bay [ [ Local Information about Pevensey Bay and surrounding area] ] lies behind and on the shingle beach. Although small, it is nevertheless a seaside resort in miniature, and has many of the facilities of its larger counterparts elsewhere.


Until the Romans arrived, the area where now Pevensey now stands was simply an uninhabited peninsula of land rising above the then existing bay and coastal marshes. By the 4th century the south and east of the province of Britannia was under constant attack from marauding barbarian tribes: the Jutes and Saxons. To counter these attacks the Romans built a total of eleven forts between Essex and the Isle of Wight, giving them the title of the "Saxon Shore Forts".

The Roman fort

The fort at Pevensey, built between 300–340 BCE was named Anderitum. The sea washed over what is now Pevensey Marshes surrounding the fort's position on three sides, so giving a safe and sheltered landing point in the bay.

When the Romans left Britain, it left the island open to attack, first by the Jutes in east Kent, and the Romanised native Britons attempted to defend their island from attack. Following the Jutish example the Saxons began invading Britain in earnest. In 491, a Saxon army led by Aelle of Sussex landed on the south coast and besieged Anderitum. After an heroic battle the British defences were overrun and the entire garrison as well as scores of British refugees seeking shelter were massacred. The remaining Britons on the south coast either fled north into the forests or by boat over the channel to what is now called Brittany. Aelle then declared that land to be the Kingdom of the South Saxons - later called Sussex - and the old Roman fort of Anderida was burned and left derelict. For a while the ruined castle was known by the Saxons as Andredceaster and the Weald of southern England - which stretched 120 miles from Anderida to Dorset - was named Andredsweald or the Forest of Andred.

The dereliction and abandonment of the fort continued. Then, in 1042, Harold Godwinson, later Harold II of England, established a stronghold here, improving fortifications by digging ditches within the walls of the fort. The English army remained at the fort during the summer of 1066 before abandoning it to meet the invading Norwegians further north.

The earliest stone remains on the site date from the Roman period, including the outer bailey wall.

When William the Conqueror invaded Sussex in September 1066 there were no defenders at Pevensey, and the still-existing bay provided a safe haven for the invading fleet. [ [] This source suggests that he landed at the mouth of Coombe Haven nearer Hastings, establishing a wooden fort on what is now the site of Wilting Manor in Crowhurst. This might explain why the battlefield was at Senlac, north of Hastings, and not nearer Pevensey. ("Secrets of the Norman Invasion" by Nick Austin)]

The castle

In late 1066 the Roman fort at Pevensey was occupied by the Normans; much of the Roman stonework still existing today is due largely to the work of Robert, Count of Mortain (half brother to William), who was granted Pevensey Castle shortly after the Norman Conquest. Robert de Mortain used the remains as the base for building his castle, carrying out only minor repairs to the walls forming the outer bailey, and building a new inner bailey at the eastern end.

The castle was besieged several times during the 11th–13th centuries. An order by Queen Elizabeth I that it be demolished and an attempt at demolition during the Puritan times were both unsuccessful: the order was ignored and only a few stones were removed on the two occasions. As late as 1942 small additions were made to the castle for the defence of Britain, when it became a lookout over the channel for German aircraft during World War II.

Today the castle is in the upkeep of English Heritage. [ [ Pevensey Castle: English Heritage site] ]

Other historic events

In the 16th century Pevensey became what was known as a “non-corporate limb“ of the Hastings, as part of the Confederation of the Cinque Ports. Along with most of the other Ports, its importance dwindled as the ports themselves became disconnected from the sea: Pevensey was two miles (3.2 km) distant.

During the 18th and 19th centuries Pevensey Bay became involved the south coast smuggling trade, since it was one the easier places to land the contraband. In 1833 a violent clash occurred between the smugglers and customs men at Pevensey Bay. [ [ Martello Beach website] ]

Some of the more than 100 Martello towers were erected along the beaches of Pevensey Bay at the beginning of the 19th century against Napoleonic attack.


There are twelve councillors elected to the parish council. [ [ Pevensey Parish Council] ] Three councillors are elected to the Wealden District Council to represent Pevensey; the Member of Parliament is Gregory Barker, who represents the Bexhill and Battle Constituency, of which Pevensey is part.

Religious buildings

The churches and chapels in the parish are: the parish church dedicated toSt Nicolas; [ [ St Nicolas, Pevensey] ] St Wilfred’s church, Pevensey Bay; the Wesleyan Methodist church; and the Pevensey Bay Free Church.


The A259 road passes through Pevensey. Two railway stations serve the area: Pevensey and Westham and Pevensey Bay.


Pevensey in the arts

* J.M.W. Turner painted [ Pevensey Castle] .
* Pevensey features several times in Rudyard Kipling's "Puck of Pook's Hill" (1907). Kipling's characters describe it as "England's Gate", the reason for this being the above history. Kipling lived near to Pevensey at Burwash, and the area is described in his autobiography.
* Pevensey features in "The Saxon Shore" (1983), a book of photographs by famous photographer Fay Godwin.
* Pevensey is the setting for parts of George Gissing's 1887 novel [ "Thyrza"] , with an especially fine description in Chapter XLI, "The Living".
* Robert Sheldon composed "Pevensey Castle", published by C.L. Barnhouse in 1993.


Pevensey Bay Sailing Club [ [ Pevensey Bay Sailing Club] ] offers a variety of classes of boats: the club played a leading role in the development of the National 12 and Merlin Rocket Development Class racing dinghies in the 1970s when it was the home club of Phil Morrison, the British yacht designer.


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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