A Cultured Seaside Resort – Eastbourne:
A month or so ago, while I was busy working on another project, Adrian was lucky enough to spend a mid-week break exploring Eastbourne. It’s one of those places that really deserves a visit, not only because of the beaches, there’s so much more on offer. Here are just a few of the things you can do in Eastbourne
Throughout the summer, Eastbourne Bandstand, the busiest in the UK, really comes to life, with 1812 firework concerts, tribute shows and kids entertainment. And, even in winter, there’s a Christmas market there and a special concert on Christmas day. What a great way to blow away the festive cobwebs! The Bandstand itself is like no other in the UK – it has a main arena and middle and upper balconies, like an outside opera house and seats 1,400 people! Built in 1935 it cost £28,000 to build and replaced one built in 1899. It’s a grade II listed structure, one of a total of nearly 130 in the town and borough of Eastbourne.
Of course, apart from the Bandstand, there’s a great selection of theatres in Eastbourne, including the Congress Theatre, Devonshire Park Theatre, Winter Gardens and the Royal Hippodrome, which is the oldest theatre in town and dates back to 1883. Between them, there’s a combined capacity of nearly 4,500 seats and there’s a range of shows all year round to cater for all tastes, from comedians and family pantomimes to drama, ballet and opera.
Another unique place in Eastbourne is the Redoubt Fortress, a circular coastal fort that was built in 1805 as part of a defence programme during the Napoleonic Wars. You’ll find other Redoubts along the South and East Coast of England, along with smaller Martello towers, to form a defence chain against potential invasion. The Eastbourne Redoubt will reopen for the 2017 season as a living museum, with a whole range of events and activities throughout the year, suitable for all ages.
If your interests lie in fine arts, then it is worth heading to the Towner Gallery, an award-winning contemporary art gallery and museum. The gallery opened in 1920 and was originally housed in an old Georgian manor house. Relocated into a larger, modern space in 2009, the gallery has over 4,000 objects including an important collection of 20th Century British artists. Needless to say, many of the works are by Eric Ravilious, who grew up in East Sussex and who studied and taught at Eastbourne School of Art. The gallery also has a fine collection of works by modern abstract artists of the 1950s and 1960s.
Other Galleries in Eastbourne include the Emma Mason Gallery, specialising in limited edition prints by British printmakers. You’ll find plenty of shops and studios in the Little Chelsea district of Eastbourne, including the Little Chelsea Photographic and Art Gallery and the Drawing Room, where you can learn to create your own masterpieces!
Find out more about what Eastbourne has to offer in this short video
And of course, this glorious seaside town is set in quintessentially English countryside. Travel just outside Eastbourne to find national treasures like Hearstmonceux castle, a 15th-century moated castle which is one of the earliest examples of brick built building in England. Or visit Charleston, home of the Bloomsbury set, where you can wander through the fabulous gardens and exuberantly decorated interiors.
Or, visit Alfriston’s Clergy House, a 14th century Wealden hall-house, acquired by the National Trust in 1896 for the grand sum of £10. Apart from being a remarkable example of a 14th-century rural building, with a rare sour milk and chalk floor, it’s important as one of the first acquisitions by the National Trust and one which demonstrates perfectly the approach adopted by the trust for the renovation of historic buildings. That came from a link with SPAB, the society for the protection of ancient buildings, founded by William Morris. Instead of ‘modernising’ the SPAB and the National Trust adopted a more conservative attitude to restoration – one which is evidenced in the National Trust collection.
If you are planning to visit the UK or just want some ideas for days out, why not pin this post for later