West Sussex

West Sussex
County Flag of West Sussex.png
Flag of West Sussex County Council
Arms of the West Sussex County Council.svg
Coat of arms of West Sussex County Council
FlagCoat of arms
West Sussex within England
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Constituent countryEngland
RegionSouth East England
(Local Government Act 1972)
Ceremonial county
High SheriffMrs Davina Irwin-Clark [1] (2019–20)
Area1,991 km2 (769 sq mi)
 • Ranked30th of 48
Population (mid-2018 est.)852,400
 • Ranked27th of 48
Density428/km2 (1,110/sq mi)
Ethnicity96.6% White
1.7% S.Asian
Non-metropolitan county
County council

West Sussex County Council
Admin HQChichester
Area1,991 km2 (769 sq mi)
 • Ranked21st of 27
 • Ranked9th of 27
Density428/km2 (1,110/sq mi)
ISO 3166-2GB-WSX
ONS code45
West Sussex numbered districts.svg
Unitary County council area
Districts of West Sussex
Members of Parliament8 members
Time zoneGreenwich Mean Time (UTC)
 • Summer (DST)British Summer Time (UTC+1)

West Sussex is a county in the south of England, bordering East Sussex (with Brighton and Hove) to the east, Hampshire to the west and Surrey to the north, and to the south the English Channel.

West Sussex is the western part of the historic county of Sussex, formerly a medieval kingdom. With an area of 1,991 square kilometres (769 sq mi) and a population of over 800,000, West Sussex is a ceremonial county, with a Lord Lieutenant and a High Sheriff. Chichester in the south-west is the county town and the only city in West Sussex; the largest towns are Crawley, Worthing and Horsham.

West Sussex has a range of scenery, including wealden, downland and coastal. The highest point of the county is Blackdown, at 280 metres (919 ft). It has a number of stately homes including Goodwood, Petworth House and Uppark, and castles such as Arundel Castle and Bramber Castle. Over half the county is protected countryside, offering walking, cycling and other recreational opportunities.[2]


Although the name Sussex, derived from the Old English 'Sūþsēaxe' ('South Saxons'), dates from the Saxon period between AD 477 to 1066, the history of human habitation in Sussex goes back to the Old Stone Age.[3] The oldest hominin remains known in Britain were found at Eartham Pit, Boxgrove.[4][5] Sussex has been occupied since those times and has succumbed to various invasions and migrations throughout its long history.[3] 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.[6]

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.[7][8] 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 administered by a separate county council from 1888, the county of Sussex being divided for administrative purposes 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.[9]