In 1887, John Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles described Sussex like this:
Sussex, maritime co. in SE. of England, bounded N. and NE. by Surrey and Kent, SE. and S. by the English Channel, and W. and NW. by Hants; greatest length, N. and S., 27 miles; greatest breadth, E. and W., 76 miles; area, 933,269 ac., pop. 490,505. From the Hants border, near Petersfield, to Beachy Head, the co. is traversed by the South Downs; to the N. of this range of chalk hills is the valley of the Weald, rising into the Forest Ridge on the NE., and sinking 011 the SE., towards the sea, into wide marshes. ...
The rivers are not important; they are the Arun, Adur, Ouse, and Rother, all flowing S. to the English Channel. The principal means of communication are the railways; these belong chiefly to the London, Brighton, and South Coast system, which has steamers running daily between Newhaven and Dieppe. The most fertile soil is the low land along the coast, which yields heavy crops of grain and hay; the South Downs are chiefly pastoral, and support a well-known breed of sheep to which they give name; the Weald consists generally of sandy or tenacious clays of a very indifferent description, but the clays produce a stiff soil, remarkably favourable to the growth of forest trees, particularly the oak, and about 150,000 acres are under wood; hops are grown in the eastern part of the co., which borders on the hop districts of Kent. (For agricultural statistics, see Appendix.) Ironstone is abundant, and so long as wood only was used for smelting the co. was one of the chief seats of the British iron trade. "Sussex marble," a kind of limestone containing fresh-water shells, is worked near Petworth. The mfrs. include woollens, paper, gunpowder, bricks and tiles, &c., but are not extensive. The seaports are now small and comparatively unimportant, but the mildness of the climate along the sea coast has led to the growth of numerous watering and bathing places and health resorts, including Brighton, Hastings, Eastbourne, Worthing, Seaford, Littlehampton, and Bognor. Sussex was the scene of much of the early history of the country, and is rich in archaeological remains. The co. contains 6 rapes, which comprise 68 hundreds, 2 liberties, the parl. and mun. bors. of Brighton (2 members) and Hastings (1 member), and the mun. bors. of Arundel, Chichester, Eastbourne, Lewes, and Rye. It is almost entirely in the diocese of Chichester. For parl. purposes it is divided into 6 divisions - viz., North-Western or Horsham, South-Western or Chichester, Northern or East Grinstead, Mid or Lewes, Southern or Eastbourne, and Eastern or Rye, 1 member for each division; the representation was increased from 4 to 6 members in 1885.
Vision of Britain presents long-run change by redistricting historical statistics to modern units. However, none of our modern units covers an area close to that of Sussex. If you want trends covering a particular location within the county, find it on our historical maps and then select "Tell me more".
GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Sussex | Map and description for the county, A Vision of Britain through Time.
Date accessed: 24th May 2013
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