Visiting Pevensey Bay, East Sussex, England: quaint, English village with bracing sea air and memories of past wars

Flag of England
Flag of England | Source
Martello Tower 66 and Sovereign Harbour, Eastbourne, taken at a distance from Pevensey Bay
Martello Tower 66 and Sovereign Harbour, Eastbourne, taken at a distance from Pevensey Bay | Source
Pevensey Bay Aqua Club, located on the beach near the centre of Pevensey Bay.
Pevensey Bay Aqua Club, located on the beach near the centre of Pevensey Bay. | Source
Pevensey Bay Sailing Club
Pevensey Bay Sailing Club | Source
 Timberlaine Road from the beach, Pevensey Bay. Martello Tower 61 is on the right of the view.
Timberlaine Road from the beach, Pevensey Bay. Martello Tower 61 is on the right of the view. | Source
Castle Inn, Pevensey Bay
Castle Inn, Pevensey Bay | Source
Castle Inn, High Street at Pevensey Bay
Castle Inn, High Street at Pevensey Bay | Source
Map location of Wealden District, East Sussex
Map location of Wealden District, East Sussex | Source

Quintessential Sussex-by-the-Sea

Pevensey Bay has always struggled somewhat to maintain an independent identity. In the 17th century it was known as Wallsend, the eastern extension of Eastbourne's sea wall. Today it is administratively part of Pevensey, a kilometre or so inland, with its castle and other ancient buildings.

However, for the visitor, Pevensey Bay has various, attractive aspects. As a vacation destination, the settlement runs largely parallel to its shingle beach, from which fine views of Eastbourne — especially Sovereign Harbour — may be obtained (see main photo, above). At earlier stages of its existence, Pevensey Bay was variously a small haven for fishermen and smugglers.

Many of the Martello Towers, built to withstand invasion in Napoleonic times, have survived along this section of the Sussex coast, and a number of these may be seen in the Eastbourne and Pevensey Bay area. Various of these remaining Martello Towers have been converted to different uses, including residential: rather desirable — if unusual — real estate. Also, at Pevensey Bay, dating from World War Two, concrete, anti-tank devices may still be seen.

Pevensey Bay, then, is a small, village-like entity, and, particularly in its High Street, exudes the aura of a quaint, English village. It is, however, popular with visitors from far and wide and I was even able to purchase a French newspaper at a local store, indicating that it caters for a wide variety of vacationers.

And what of retirees, also? Well, local cynics may claim that the frequency of local rail links are owing to all the outsiders, rather than local people, who have decided to make their home here, with retirement in prospect. But it is nevertheless true that Pevensey Bay in the summer — its beaches and mild climate popular with vacationers — is a rather different Pevensey Bay from the relatively deserted place that it becomes during the winter, with its bleak and blustery shingle shoreline. A place, then, that people aspire to retire to. (And that others may eventually aspire to retire from.) But to North American visitors, undoubtedly positive impressions will result — at whatever time of the year.

Pevensey Bay, with Pevensey and Westham, are located in the Wealden District of England's East Sussex.

Also worth seeing

Pevensey (distance: 1 kilometre); in addition to its Castle and Medieval church, among the various, significant structures are the Old Courthouse and the Old Minthouse.

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How to get there: United Airlines flies to London Heathrow Airport, where car rental is available. (Distance from London Heathrow to Pevensey Bay : approx. 147 kilometres.) For access by road, take M25/M23/A23/A27. There are rail links to Pevensey Bay railroad station from London Victoria station. Some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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