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West Sussex

Coordinates: 50°55′N 0°30′W / 50.917°N 0.500°W / 50.917; -0.500
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West Sussex
West Sussex within England
Coordinates: 50°55′N 0°30′W / 50.917°N 0.500°W / 50.917; -0.500
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Constituent countryEngland
RegionSouth East England
Time zoneUTC+0 (GMT)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+1 (BST)
UK Parliament8 MPs
PoliceSussex Police
Ceremonial county
Lord LieutenantLady Emma Barnard[1]
High SheriffAndrew Bliss QPM[2] (2023–24)
Area1,991 km2 (769 sq mi)
 • Rank30th of 48
 • Rank27th of 48
Density448/km2 (1,160/sq mi)
2021 census[4]
Non-metropolitan county
County councilWest Sussex County Council
Admin HQChichester
Area1,991 km2 (769 sq mi)
 • Rank16th of 21
 • Rank8th of 21
Density448/km2 (1,160/sq mi)
ISO 3166-2GB-WSX
GSS codeE10000032

Districts of West Sussex

West Sussex is a ceremonial county in South East England. It is bordered by Surrey to the north, East Sussex to the east, the English Channel to the south, and Hampshire to the west. The largest settlement is Crawley, and the county town is the city of Chichester.

The county has a land area of 1,991 square kilometres (769 sq mi) and a population of 892,336. Along the south coast is a near-continuous urban area which includes the towns of Bognor Regis (63,855), Littlehampton (55,706), and Worthing (111,338); the latter two are part of the Brighton and Hove built-up area, which extends into East Sussex and has a total population of 474,485. The interior of the county is generally rural; the largest towns are Crawley (118,493) and Horsham (50,934), both located in the north-east; Chichester is in the south-west and has a population of 26,795. West Sussex contains seven local government districts, which are part of a two-tier non-metropolitan county also called West Sussex. West Sussex and East Sussex were historically a single county.

The South Downs are a defining feature of the county, crossing it from east to west and dividing the north and south. The downs are a chalk escarpment which falls away sharply into the Weald to the north and more gently toward the south, where there is a narrow strip of flat land between the hills and the coast. The coastal strip widens to the west, where it is punctuated by Chichester Harbour, which together with Langstone and Portsmouth harbours in neighbouring Hampshire is a ria.

The county has a long history of human settlement dating back to the Lower Paleolithic era. The Romans conquered West Sussex's indigenous Britons, and incorporated the area as a Roman province. During the Early Middle Ages, the Saxons settled the area, establishing the Kingdom of Sussex in 477, which lasted until c. 827 when the kingdom was annexed by Wessex. It has a number of stately homes including Goodwood, Petworth House and Uppark, and castles such as Arundel Castle and Bramber Castle.



The name Sussex, derived from the Old English 'Sūþsēaxe' ('South Saxons'), dates from the Saxon period between AD 477 to 1066, and the history of human habitation in Sussex goes back to the Old Stone Age.[6] The oldest hominin remains known in Britain were found at Eartham Pit, Boxgrove.[7][8] Prehistoric monuments include the Devil's Jumps, a group of Bronze Age burial mounds, and the Iron Age Cissbury Ring and Chanctonbury Ring hill forts on the South Downs.

The Roman period saw the building of Fishbourne Roman Palace and rural villas such as Bignor Roman Villa together with a network of roads including Stane Street, the Chichester to Silchester Way and the Sussex Greensand Way. The Romans used the Weald for iron production on an industrial scale.[9]

The foundation of the Kingdom of Sussex is recorded by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for the year AD 477; it says that Ælle arrived at a place called Cymenshore in three ships with his three sons and killed or put to flight the local inhabitants. The foundation story is regarded as somewhat of a myth by most historians, although the archaeology suggests that Saxons did start to settle in the area in the late 5th century.[10][11] The Kingdom of Sussex was absorbed into Wessex as an earldom and became the county of Sussex.

With its origins in the kingdom of Sussex, the later county of Sussex was traditionally divided into six units known as rapes. By the 16th century, the three western rapes were grouped together informally, having their own separate Quarter Sessions. These were governed by a separate county council from 1888, the county of Sussex being divided into the administrative counties of East and West Sussex. In 1974, West Sussex was made a single ceremonial county with the coming into force of the Local Government Act 1972. At the same time a large part of the eastern rape of Lewes (the Mid Sussex district which includes the towns of Haywards Heath, Burgess Hill and East Grinstead) was transferred into West Sussex.

Provision for paupers


Until 1834 provision for the poor and destitute in West Sussex was made at parish level. From 1835 until 1948 eleven Poor Law Unions, each catering for several parishes, took on the job.[12]


Chichester Market Cross

Most settlements in West Sussex are either along the south coast or in Mid Sussex, near the M23/A23 corridor. The town of Crawley is the largest in the county with an estimated population of 106,600.[13] The coastal settlement of Worthing closely follows with a population of 104,600.[13] The seaside resort of Bognor Regis and the market town of Horsham are both large towns. Chichester, the county town, has a cathedral and city status, and is situated not far from the border with Hampshire. Other conurbations of a similar size are Burgess Hill, East Grinstead and Haywards Heath in the Mid Sussex district, Littlehampton in the Arun district, and Lancing, Southwick and Shoreham in the Adur district. Much of the coastal town population is part of the Brighton/Worthing/Littlehampton conurbation.

Rustington and Southwater are the next largest settlements in the county. There are several more towns in West Sussex, including Arundel, Midhurst, Petworth, Selsey, Steyning, Henfield, Pulborough and Storrington. Other notable villages include Billingshurst, Copthorne, Crawley Down, Cuckfield, Hassocks, Hurstpierpoint and Lindfield. The current total population of the county makes up 1.53% of England's population.


1813/54 one inch to the mile OS map

Physical geography

General map of West Sussex.

West Sussex is bordered by Hampshire to the west, Surrey to the north and East Sussex to the east. The English Channel lies to the south. The area has been formed from Upper Jurassic and Lower Cretaceous rock strata, part of the Weald–Artois Anticline. The eastern part of this ridge, the Weald of Kent, Sussex and Surrey has been greatly eroded, with the chalk surface removed to expose older Lower Cretaceous rocks of the Wealden Group.[14] In West Sussex the exposed rock becomes older towards the north of the county with Lower Greensand ridges along the border with Surrey including the highest point of the county at Blackdown. Erosion of softer sand and clay strata has hollowed out the basin of the Weald leaving a north facing scarp slope of the chalk which runs east and west across the whole county, broken only by the valleys of the River Arun and River Adur.[15] In addition to these two rivers which drain most of the county a winterbourne, the River Lavant, flows intermittently from springs on the dip slope of the chalk downs north of Chichester.[16] Some intermittent streams are known in the local dialect as "rifes".[17]

The county makes up 1.52% of the total land of England, making it the 30th largest county in the country.[18]

Bognor Regis
Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: Met Office[19]
Imperial conversion
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches



West Sussex is the sunniest county in the United Kingdom, according to Met Office records. Over the 29 years to 2011 it averaged 1902 hours of sunshine per year.[20] Sunshine totals are highest near the coast with Bognor Regis often having the highest in mainland England, including a total of 2237 hours in 1990. Mean annual temperature for southern coastal counties is around 11 °C. The coldest month, January, has mean daily minimum temperatures of around 3 °C near the coast and lower inland. July tends to be the warmest month when mean daily maxima tend to be around 20 °C. A maximum temperature of 35.4 °C occurred at North Heath, Pulborough on 26 June 1976. Coastal high temperatures are often moderated by cooler sea breezes.[21]

Monthly rainfall tends to be highest in autumn and early winter and lowest in the summer months, with July often being the driest month. There is less rainfall from summer convective showers and thunderstorms than in inland areas. The county can suffer both from localised flooding caused by heavy rainfall and from water shortages caused by prolonged periods of below average rainfall. Winter rainfall is needed to recharge the chalk aquifers from which much of the water supply is drawn.[21]

Land economy


West Sussex developed distinctive land uses along with its neighbours in the weald. The Landrace cattle transformed into Sussex cattle and Sussex chickens emerged about the time of the Roman conquest.[22] Some of the earliest evidence of horses in Britain has been found at Boxgrove, dated to 500,000 BC. Viticulture is a part of the economy, with wineries producing mainly sparkling wine of varied quality.[23]

Communications and transport


The M23 Motorway runs from London to the south of Crawley. The A23 and A24 roads run from London to Brighton and Worthing respectively with the A29 a little further west ending in Bognor Regis. Other major roads are the A272 which runs east to west through the middle of the county and the A27 which does the same but closer to the coast. The A259 is a local alternate route to the A27 in the eastern coastal strip.

Gatwick Airport, which handled over 33 million passengers and had over 250,000 aircraft movements in 2011, is located within the borders of Crawley, and is the second largest airport in the United Kingdom. There is also a considerably smaller local airport at Shoreham and a grass airfield handling light aircraft and helicopters at Goodwood. There are three main railway routes: the Brighton Main Line, the Arun Valley Line and the West Coastway Line. The Portsmouth Direct Line serves and occasionally enters the westernmost part of West Sussex, although it has no railway stations in the county.



Members of Parliament


Since the 2024 general election, West Sussex has been represented by three Conservative, Three Labour and two Liberal Democrat Members of Parliament (MPs).[24]

Constituency Member of Parliament Party
Arundel & South Downs Andrew Griffith Conservative
Bognor Regis & Littlehampton Alison Griffiths Conservative
Chichester Jess Brown-Fuller Liberal Democrat
Crawley Peter Lamb Labour
Horsham John Milne Liberal Democrat
Mid Sussex Alison Bennett Conservative
East Worthing and Shoreham Tom Rutland Labour
Worthing West Beccy Cooper Labour

County Council

The coat of arms of West Sussex County Council

West Sussex County Council (WSCC) is the authority that governs the non-metropolitan county of West Sussex. The county contains 7 district and borough councils (Adur, Arun, Chichester, Crawley, Horsham, Mid Sussex and Worthing), and 159 town, parish and neighbourhood councils.

West Sussex County Council has 70 councillors; the majority of them being Conservative. There are 46 Conservative councillors, 11 Liberal Democrats, 9 Labour Party councillors and 4 Green and Independent Alliance councillors.[25] The Chief Executive and their team of executive directors are responsible for the day-to-day running of the council.

West Sussex County Council is based at County Hall, Chichester and provides a large range of services including education, social services, fire and rescue, libraries, trading standards, town and country planning, refuse disposal and consumer services.

West Sussex Youth Cabinet


The West Sussex Youth Cabinet is a group of local representatives and four UK Youth Parliament (UKYP) representatives, who are elected by young people in West Sussex.[26] The Youth Cabinet represents the views of the young people West Sussex at county level. Elections for the Youth Cabinet and UKYP in West Sussex run every year in March.[citation needed]

Places of interest


Nature and zoos

Wakehurst Place Gardens, Ardingly

Castles, houses and other buildings


Religious buildings


The Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity, otherwise called Chichester Cathedral, is the seat of the Anglican Bishop of Chichester. It was founded as a cathedral in 1075, when the seat of the bishop was moved from Selsey Abbey.[28] The cathedral has architecture in both the Norman and the Gothic styles, and has been called by the architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner "the most typical English Cathedral".[29] The Cathedral Church of Our Lady and St Philip Howard in Arundel is the Roman Catholic cathedral of the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. Built in French Gothic style and dedicated in 1873 as the Catholic parish church of Arundel, it was not designated a cathedral until the foundation of the diocese in 1965.[30]

Bosham Church is partly of Saxon construction and is shown on the Bayeux Tapestry as the local church of late Saxon and Danish kings of England.[31] Many other Saxon and early Norman churches have survived in the county with little alteration including the Church of St Mary the Blessed Virgin, Sompting, an 11th-century Anglo-Saxon church with a Rhenish helm unique in England and St. Nicholas Church, Worth, a 10th-century church in Worth, Crawley. Some Anglican churches and many of the numerous nonconformist chapels in the county have been converted to residential use. Cittaviveka is a Buddhist monastery in Chithurst.





Pallant House Gallery in Chichester houses one of the most significant collections of 20th-century British art outside London. It includes a substantial body of early and mid-20th-century work bequeathed by Walter Hussey and many later works donated by Sir Colin St John 'Sandy' Wilson.

Worthing Museum and Art Gallery houses a large collection of Georgian and Victorian costume. The Cass Sculpture Foundation has an outdoor sculpture park at Goodwood.



BBC South covers the county excluding Haywards Heath, Burgess Hill, East Grinstead and Shoreham-by-Sea which are covered by BBC South East.[35] ITV Meridian also covers the county. Crawley is covered by both regions and by BBC London and ITV London.[36]

Economy and demography


This is a table of trend of regional gross value added of West Sussex at current basic prices published by Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling.[37]

Year Regional gross
value added[38]
Agriculture[39] Industry[40] Services[41]
1995 8,564 208 2,239 6,116
2000 10,576 162 2,545 7,869
2003 12,619 185 2,520 9,915

Significant companies in the county include Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, a substantial employer near Chichester. Gatwick Airport, with associated airlines including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, is a major source of direct and indirect employment. Thales Group also has a presence in the county. Nestlé has their UK headquarters in Crawley.

The table below shows the population change up to the 2011 census, contrasting the previous census. It also shows the proportion of residents in each district reliant upon lowest income and/or joblessness benefits, the national average proportion of which was 4.5% as at August 2012, the year for which latest datasets have been published. It can be seen that the most populous district of West Sussex is Arun containing the towns of Arundel, Bognor Regis and Littlehampton:

Population from census to census. Claimants of JSA or Income Support (DWP)[42]
Unit JSA or Inc. Supp. claimants (August 2012)  % of 2011 population JSA and Income Support claimants (August 2001) % of 2001 population Population (April 2011) Population (April 2001)
West Sussex 2.7% 5.1% 806,892 753,614
Ranked by district
Crawley 3.8% 5.3% 106,597 99,744
Worthing 3.6% 6.7% 104,640 97,568
Adur 3.2% 6.3% 61,182 59,627
Arun 3.0% 6.4% 149,518 140,759
Chichester 2.3% 4.8% 113,794 106,450
Horsham 1.9% 3.3% 131,301 122,088
Mid Sussex 1.6% 3.6% 139,860 127,378



West Sussex has a comprehensive education system, with a mix of county-maintained secondary schools and academies and over twenty independent senior schools. In addition primary education is provided through a mix of around 240 infant, junior, primary, first and middle schools.

Colleges include The College of Richard Collyer, Central Sussex College, Northbrook College and The Weald School.

Independent schools in the county include Christ's Hospital near Horsham, whose students wear Tudor style uniform, Seaford College, Lancing College and Hurstpierpoint College.

Tertiary education is provided by the University of Chichester and Chichester College.



At least 40 sports are active in West Sussex. Sussex was the first First-Class cricket county formed in 1839 and was a cradle for club cricket.[43][44] Sussex is home to Fontwell Park Racecourse.[45] The county has one Football League club located in Crawley, that is Crawley Town F.C.[46]

See also



  1. ^ "The West Sussex Lieutenancy". Retrieved 3 March 2024.
  2. ^ "The West Sussex Lieutenancy". Retrieved 3 March 2024.
  3. ^ "Mid-2022 population estimates by Lieutenancy areas (as at 1997) for England and Wales". Office for National Statistics. 24 June 2024. Retrieved 26 June 2024.
  4. ^ UK Census (2021). "2021 Census Area Profile – West Sussex County (E10000032)". Nomis. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 4 December 2023.
  5. ^ "Mid-Year Population Estimates, UK, June 2022". Office for National Statistics. 26 March 2024. Retrieved 3 May 2024.
  6. ^ Armstrong. History of Sussex. Chapter 2. The first Inhabitants
  7. ^ "SSSI Citation — Eartham Pit" (PDF). Natural England. Archived (PDF) from the original on 25 May 2011. Retrieved 4 November 2012.
  8. ^ A History of Britain, Richard Dargie (2007), p. 8–9
  9. ^ H. Cleere & D. Crossley, Iron industry of the Weald (2nd edn, Merton Priory Press, Cardiff, 1995), 79–84; based on work by H. F. Cleere, including 'Some operating parameters for Roman ironworks' Inst Archaeol. Bull. 13 (1976), 233–46.
  10. ^ Anglo-Saxon Chronicle Parker MS. 477AD.
  11. ^ Welch, M.G. (1992). Anglo-Saxon England. English Heritage. ISBN 0-7134-6566-2. pg 9
  12. ^ "West Sussex County Council: Poor Law Records". Archived from the original on 13 February 2015. Retrieved 17 May 2022.
  13. ^ a b Office for National Statistics (16 July 2012). "Census 2011 result shows increase in population of the South East". Archived from the original on 5 January 2016. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
  14. ^ Gallois R.W. & Edmunds M.A. (4th Ed 1965), The Wealden District, British Regional Geology series, British Geological Survey, ISBN 0-11-884078-9
  15. ^ Mantell, Gideon Algernon; Jones (1857). The Wonders of Geology. Vol. I. Thomas Rupert (7th ed.). London: Henry G. Bohn. p. 371. Archived from the original on 21 April 2021. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
  16. ^ Marsh, Terry; Hannaford, Jamie (2008). UK Hydrometric Register (PDF). Natural Environment Research Council. p. 122. ISBN 978-0-9557672-2-7. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 October 2013. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
  17. ^ "British Government catchment planning". Retrieved 5 November 2023.
  18. ^ Barrow, Mandy. "Project Britain British Life and Culture". Project Britain. Mandy Barrow. Archived from the original on 6 October 2017. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  19. ^ "Bognor Regis Climate". Met Office. Archived from the original on 13 December 2013. Retrieved 8 December 2013.
  20. ^ "Bognor Regis the sunniest spot in Britain". The Daily Telegraph. London. 28 December 2011. Archived from the original on 6 December 2011. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
  21. ^ a b "Southern England: climate". Met Office. Archived from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 29 October 2013.
  22. ^ Hobson, Jeremy and Lewis, Celia. Choosing & Raising Chickens: The complete guide to breeds and welfare. Daniel and Charles Publishing. London. 2009. p 94-95
  23. ^ "VisitSussex: Sussex Wine & Beer". Archived from the original on 25 February 2015. Retrieved 22 February 2015.
  24. ^ "General election 2024 in maps and charts". BBC News. Retrieved 15 July 2024.
  25. ^ "West Sussex County Council: Council structure".
  26. ^ "Could you be a West Sussex youth MP? – News". Worthing Herald. Archived from the original on 10 February 2015. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
  27. ^ "Warnham Local Nature Reserve". Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 14 March 2015.
  28. ^ Tim Tatton-Brown and John Crook, The English Cathedral, New Holland (2002), ISBN 1-84330-120-2
  29. ^ Nikolaus Pevsner and Ian Nairn, Buildings of England: Sussex, Penguin Books (1965) (now published by Yale University Press) ISBN 0-300-09677-1
  30. ^ Hudson, T. P., ed. (1997). "A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 5 Part 1 – Arundel Rape (South-Western Part) including Arundel. Arundel Rape: South-Western part". Victoria County History of Sussex. British History Online. pp. 7–9. Archived from the original on 8 January 2015. Retrieved 28 April 2011.
  31. ^ Salzman, L. F. (ed) (1953). "A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 4 – The Rape of Chichester. Bosham". Victoria County History of Sussex. British History Online. pp. 182–188. Archived from the original on 8 January 2015. Retrieved 30 August 2012. {{cite web}}: |first= has generic name (help)
  32. ^ "Southwick (Sussex) Society – The Manor Cottage". Archived from the original on 13 April 2015. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
  33. ^ "Steyning Museum Home Page". Archived from the original on 27 August 2008. Retrieved 14 August 2008.
  34. ^ "Welcome to Tangmere". Archived from the original on 21 March 2008. Retrieved 6 January 2007.
  35. ^ "BBC South East".
  36. ^ "BBC London".
  37. ^ [1] Archived 28 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  38. ^ Components may not sum to totals due to rounding
  39. ^ includes hunting and forestry
  40. ^ includes energy and construction
  41. ^ includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured
  42. ^ Key Statistics: Population; Quick Statistics: Economic indicators Archived 11 February 2003 at the Wayback Machine. (2011 census and 2001 census) Retrieved 27 February 2015.
  43. ^ "West Sussex Info: Cricket clubs, cricket leagues and village cricket in West Sussex". Archived from the original on 21 February 2015. Retrieved 22 February 2015.
  44. ^ "Sussex CCC was the first First-Class County formed in 1839". Archived from the original on 15 February 2015. Retrieved 22 February 2015.
  45. ^ "Cheltenham named Racegoers Club Racecourse of the Year". Archived from the original on 23 April 2016. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
  46. ^ "Official Website of the Red Devils – Crawley Town FC". Archived from the original on 1 April 2016. Retrieved 6 April 2016.