New Eastbourne attraction set to open at Beachy Head

A new, free exhibition detailing the remarkable history of Beachy Head is due to open this spring at the iconic South Downs landmark.

Wednesday, 10th February 2021, 5:15 pm
The Beachy Head Countryside Centre at Beachy Head. July 18th 2013 E29132P ENGSUS00120130718142429

The Beachy Head Story, which will open when government guidance allows, explains the area’s fascinating natural and social history from prehistoric sea creatures and ancient monuments through to smugglers and even magic.

Opening on the site of the former Beachy Head Countryside Centre, the new exhibition and visitor centre will tell the story of one of the South Downs’ most visited places and the intertwined and often complex relationship between people and the natural landscape.

In the exhibition, the world-famous Beachy Head woman – the skeleton of a woman found at Beachy Head who lived during the Roman period, around 200 to 250 AD, and is thought to have originated from Sub-Saharan Africa – will finally be returned to the area she once lived and her incredible story of migration will be told alongside many others, using archaeological and historic artefacts from the Heritage Eastbourne collection.

The displays will also reveal some of the mythical stories which have been inspired by this unique landscape while local artist Ellie Fryer provides her own interpretation with murals running throughout the exhibition.

Eastbourne Borough Council Lead Cabinet Member for Tourism and Enterprise, Councillor Margaret Bannister said, “We can’t wait to reveal our story. Beachy Head is one of the most frequently visited sites on the South Downs and we want people to appreciate it even more than they do today, and return time and time again, to see its many faces throughout history.”

The new exhibition replaces Heritage Eastbourne’s ‘The Story of Eastbourne’ pop up exhibition which was due to end in February 2021 at its Terminus Road location.

Unfortunately, due to social distancing guidelines and the venue’s limited size, the exhibition was unable to reopen safely last year.

The location at Beachy Head will now allow a greater number of visitors to discover Eastbourne’s heritage collections, with coach parking on site and a constant stream of walkers passing by along the South Downs Way.

The new attraction is a key milestone in Eastbourne Borough Council’s Whole Estate Plan 2019-20 which identifies opportunities to better promote the downland and engage with its visitors.

The former Beachy Head Countryside Centre site was previously run on a volunteer basis until the closure of its management trust.

Councillor Bannister said, “We know what a key site this is for visitors to Eastbourne and the South Downs with growing numbers of international tourists, particularly from Asia. As a result we are working closer than ever with the South Downs National Park in providing a cohesive visitor experience across many key areas of the Eastern downs.”

The Beachy Head Story will open in the spring when government guidance allows. In the meantime, the attraction’s brand new gift shop stocking a range of local and environmentally responsible gifts will soon be available online to browse with all income raised supporting Eastbourne downland projects.

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