Bexhill-on-Sea, or Bexhill, as it is more commonly known, is an almost forgotten seaside town on the south coast of East Sussex. The fishing port of Hastings (the battle of which took place in 1066 at the site of the town of Battle, eight miles from Bexhill) lies to its immediate east.
The settlement was founded in 772 AD by King Offa of Mercia, the king having laid claim to the land a year earlier by defeating the people of Hastings (then a wider, rural, area than the town now referred to as Hastings). however, in the Norman Conquest of 1066, the village was all but destroyed, and the remaining property handed over by King William 1 to his knights.
For many years, the village of Bexhill, and its neighbour Sidley (now just a suburb), was a centre for smuggling, as indeed was nearby Hastings.
It was the seventh Earl De La Warr who decided to turn the village into a luxury resort, instigating the opening of the Sackville Hotel in 1890. The highest members of Victorian society flocked to Bexhill, renowned at the time for the health-giving properties of its seawater.
In 1902 Bexhill staged the first British motor race, and has until recently celebrated an annual festival of motoring. Also at the turn of the nineteenth century the town became, notoriously at the time, the first British resort to introduce mixed bathing.
With the ever-increasing affordability of foreign travel, Bexhill has over the years, along with all other British seaside towns, fallen slowly into decline. However, the few who do visit tend to return repeatedly, being fond of its calm, unobtrusive atmosphere.
Bexhill is contented as a haven for retired folk. It has the highest percentage of OAPs of any town in Europe, and the highest concentration of charity shops in the world. It does have one feature though that sets it apart from the many other OAP-rich seaside towns along the south coast, and that is the impressive De La Warr Pavilion, the world's first steel framed building. Architecture enthusiasts come from the world over to marvel at this pioneering building.
The town is also home to rock band Mumm-Ra! There's only so much gazing across the slate-grey sea to be had.