Bexhill-on-Sea retains much of the charm and style that made it a favourite of the Victorian and Edwardian aristocracy. It lies between Eastbourne and Hastings in the beautiful 1066 Country area, and is in within easy reach of many castles and attractions such as the beautiful medieval town of Rye.
Bexhill’s history dates back to 771 when it was granted a charter by King Offa of Mercia, establishing a church and community. In Medieval times it was a base for infamous smuggling gangs. Later in 1804, during the Napoleonic wars, soldiers of the King’s German Legion were stationed there.
The Sackville Hotel known as “the Jewel of the South Coast” was where the Edwardian aristocracy stayed to play and party in luxurious style.
Bexhill was one of the first places to allow mixed sea bathing – very avant-garde for the time. Another landmark date was 1902 when Bexhill hosted the first international motor racing event.
Bexhill has kept its elegant two-mile promenade, where deck chairs and beach huts can be hired. The world famous De La Warr Pavilion also lies along the seafront and offers an excellent arts programme throughout the year.
There are many interesting shops, cafés and restaurants to be found in the town where many of the buildings date from 18th century. The Museum of Costume and Social History is located in the Old Town Manor Gardens and the Bexhill Museum shows such diversity as dinosaurs and artefacts from India and Africa.
The De La Warr Pavilion
The De La Warr Pavilion was the dream of the 9th Earl de la Warr. The Earl drew up a list of ideas for a modern building in Bexhill to be built on the seafront. The criteria was for a light and airy building with clean simple lines to be used as an entertainment venue, restaurant and reading room.
The De La Warr Pavillion was commissioned in 1935 and designed by architects Eric Mendlesohn and Serge Chermayeff. It was the first public building in Britain to be built in the Modernist style, with a revolutionary structure of steel and concrete. The aim of the building was to provide a centre of culture and leisure for the people of Bexhill and the surrounding area. Today the building is Grade 1 listed and widely recognised as a perfect example of the Modernist Movement.
Seventy years on the Pavilion has undergone extensive restoration and now offers visitors a large contemporary art gallery with an exciting arts programme. There is a also a shop specialising in books on art and culture and a café- restaurant.
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