The Pevensey area includes the Pevensey Bay seafront and historic village and is the perfect blend of historic and coastal attractions. The old village situated around 2 to 3 miles inland has famous historic links to the Norman invasion and contains the impressively intact remains of the Norman Pevensey Castle and an old Roman Fort. William the Conqueror first landed here en-route to the Battle of Hastings, and after his victory built the mighty stone Pevensey Castle which in 1066 was on a coastal split overlooking Pevensey Bay.
The coastline has shifted and changed here on the East Sussex coast, caused by the battering it took from the Great Medieval storms. Today watersports haven Pevensey Bay is only just above sea level, separated from the inland village by the Pevensey Levels marshes, a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Napoleonic Martello Towers can also be found along the Pevensey coast between Norman’s Bay and Langney Point.
Pevensey Castle History
Essential viewing on the 1066 Trail, Pevensey Castle is the starting point for the 31 mile long 1066 Country Walk Long Distance Path which takes in major sites linked to the invasion including the 1066 Battlefield site at nearby Battle, Hastings Castle and Medieval Rye.
Pevensey Castle (English Heritage) remains remarkably intact with its twin towered gatehouse entrance. Large sections of Roman Towered Walls, remains of the old fort, also survive on the site, an indication that the Normans weren’t the first to establish a fortification and settlement here! An exhibition, audio tour and English Heritage gift shop all feature onsite.
Discover more on Pevensey’s fascinating Roman history in the castle exhibition and the courthouse museum in the village. In the fourth century from AD43 to AD470 the area was one of the Roman’s mighty Saxon Shore Forts and part of the Roman city of Anderida. After the 1066 conquest the stone castle with keep, towered bailey wall and twin towered gatehouse was built, and later reinforced during the Tudor period in 1588 in an effort to fortify it against invasion by the Spanish Armada (an Armada cannon is within the castle site) . It also saw service during World War II when machine gun posts and pillboxes were positioned here.
Norman Landing at Pevensey
It was here at Pevensey that William the Conqueror first landed before his great battle. He had already discovered that King Harold’s Wessex fleet was recuperating in London following a battering by gales so the timing was perfect for a landing. This combined with favourable winds saw William land at Pevensey unopposed. He quickly constructed a timber and earthwork castle on the site of the old Roman Fort then he moved his great forces from Pevensey, 7 miles inland to Telham Hill and the Battle of Hastings site now at Battle. The most famous battle ever fought on English soil, the 1066 Battle of Hastings took place on 14th October shortly after dawn.
It’s just a short stroll through a gateway in the old Roman walls to beautiful Pevensey village which contains more ancient buildings including the Norman church of St Nicholas. Medieval buildings include the old 13th century town hall, now home to the Pevensey Courthouse Museum. Courts were held here in the Victorian era and the old courthouse with its two cells is famously believed to be haunted – if you’re feeling brave, book yourself on one of the Courthouse’s Ghost Nights! Old real ale inns mingle with antique shops and other heritage buildings including The Mint House.
Pevensey Bay on the East Sussex coast with its half mile shingle and sand beach is a top spot for windsurfing and kitesurfing. This attractive mini seaside resort nestles on the eastern edge of Eastbourne, within easy reach of Sovereign Harbour leisure and watersports facilities. Pevensey Bay sits adjacent to Eastbourne’s inner harbour and has great views across to the marina. Boat tours, boat charter and fishing trips are all available in the adjacent harbour! A peaceful family friendly seaside resort, Pevensey Bay contains a good selection of beach cafes, bars and restaurants, plus essentials including a supermarket and six screen cinema alongside quirky arts and crafts shops, designer clothing shops and health/ beauty outlets. Yacht Brokers are also well established here in Pevensey Bay.
Two station stops – Pevensey & Westham and Pevensey Bay make it easy to travel to the area without the car. Bus and rail links also enable easy movement around the area, inclusive of direct rail links to Eastbourne, Hastings and Ashford International from the resort. Pevensey Bay is easily reached by road, just off the A259 east of Eastbourne
Where to Stay
Seaside Pevensey Bay offers an excellent choice of family run B&Bs just footsteps from the shingle and sand beach. Browse accommodation choice below and choose from family friendly holiday parks and caravan sites, stylish apartments in the Sovereign Harbour area or classic small seaside hotels.
Michelle is an experienced travel writer with iknow and has travelled extensively across the UK, Spain, Portugal and the USA. When she’s not busy writing for iknow she enjoys spending time touring museums and art galleries and seeking out the best independent shops in Manchester and Leeds.