West Sussex is a county in the south of England, bordering East Sussex (including Brighton and Hove) to the east, Hampshire to the west and Surrey to the north, and to the south the English Channel. Chichester in the southwest is the county town and only city in West Sussex, with the largest towns being Crawley, Worthing and Horsham.
West Sussex has a range of scenery, including Wealden, Downland and coastal. The highest point of the county is Black Down, at 280 metres (919 ft). It has a number of stately homes including Goodwood, Petworth House and Uppark and castles such as Arundel and Bramber. Over half the county is protected countryside, offering walking, cycling and other recreational opportunities.
Although the name Sussex, derived from the Old English 'Sūþsēaxe' ('South Saxons'), is from the Saxon period between AD 477 to 1066, the history of human habitation in Sussex goes back to the Old Stone Age. The oldest hominin remains known in Britain were found at Eartham Pit, Boxgrove. Sussex has been occupied since those times and has succumbed to various invasions and migrations throughout its long history.
The foundation of the Kingdom of Sussex is recorded by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for the year AD 477; it says that Ælle arrived at a place called Cymenshore in three ships with his three sons and killed or put to flight the local inhabitants. The foundation story is regarded as somewhat of a myth by most historians, although the archaeology suggests that Saxons did start to settle in the area in the late 5th century. The Kingdom of Sussex was absorbed into Wessex as an earldom and became the county of Sussex.
With its origins in the kingdom of Sussex, the later county of Sussex was traditionally divided into six units known as rapes. By the 16th century, the three western rapes were grouped together informally, having their own separate Quarter Sessions; they were administered by a separate county council from 1888, the county of Sussex being split into the counties of East and West Sussex. In 1974, West Sussex was made a single ceremonial county with the coming into force of the Local Government Act 1972. At the same time a large part of the eastern rape of Lewes (the Mid Sussex district which includes the towns of Haywards Heath, Burgess Hill and East Grinstead) was transferred into West Sussex.
Briefly, West Sussex became an administrative county in 1888 and a ceremonial county in 1974. In the period between 1888 and 1974 Sussex was the ceremonial county for both East and West Sussex.