Eastbourne sits on the south coast of East Sussex between Brighton and Hastings. It is a large seaside town with some 90,000 inhabitants.
Eastbourne became fashionable during Edwardian times when it was called 'The Watering Place of the South'.
Bronze Age to Saxon Times
In ancient history bronze-age settlers lived in various areas within and around what is now the town, and Celts are known to have settled on the South Downs at the top of Eastbourne.
There is evidence of a Roman mosaic floor beneath the Burlington Hotel.
Origin of Eastbourne's Name
Eastbourne's name comes from 'Burne' the stream which ran through the Old Town of Eastbourne. All that can be seen of the Burne, or Bourne is the small pond in Motcombe Gardens. The bubbling source is guarded by a statue of Neptune.
Motcombe Gardens are overlooked by St. Mary's Church, a Norman church which allegedly lies on the site of a Saxon ‘moot’, or meeting place. This gives Motcombe its name.
The 'East' was added to ‘Burne’ in the 13th century.
Medieval to Napoleon
Edward II visited the village of East Burne in 1324 and the village began to grow.
In the 1450s, Eastbourne men “Thomas Profot - gentilman, Richard Burton - yeoman and Thomas Motard – yeaoman” are all pardoned after Jack Cade's rebellion against the government in 1450. And in 1467 The Manor of Bourne was held by Baron de Roos, though it is later denied him due to his support of the Lancastrian movement.
During the middle ages the area prospered as a major sheep farming and fishing area. In 1555 East Bourne was sold to three wealthy Sussex families - Burton, Gildredge and Selwyn.
In 1556 Bourne Place (now Compton Place) was built, and still stands as a private ladies training college today.
At the end of the 17th century, Eastbourne folk were involved in battle with the French - and on 30th June 1690 the English and Dutch navies were unsuccessful as they fought the French off Beachy Head.
These days relations are far more friendly and Eastbourne regularly hosts a french market, welcoming our cousins from across the channel.
Napoleon and Martello Towers
Napoleon, however caused great concern and at the end of the 18th century, a series of Martello Towers were built along the coast to defend it from "le petit corporal".
Eastbourne's Redoubt Museum is housed within a fortress built in 1805 to supplement the firepower of the Martello towers. Tower No. 73, The Wish Tower, still stands overlooking the sea towards the west of Eastbourne's seafront.