Sussex Day (Saint Richard’s Day) Date in the current year: June 16, 2024

Sussex Day (Saint Richard’s Day) Sussex Day is an annual holiday celebrating the rich heritage and culture of the English historic county of Sussex. It is observed on June 16 since it is the feast day of Saint Richard of Chichester, the patron saint of Sussex.

Sussex is a historic county in South East England, bordered by Hampshire, Surrey, and Kent. In 1974, it was divided into the ceremonial counties of East Sussex and West Sussex according to the Local Government Act 1972. Since the two ceremonial counties have a common history and shared cultural heritage, Sussex Day is celebrated in both of them.

The name “Sussex” is derived from the Old English phrase that means the land of the South Saxons. The Kingdom of the South Saxons, commonly referred to as the Kingdom of Sussex, was one of the seven kingdoms of the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy, alongside East Anglia, Essex, Kent, Mercia, Northumbria, and Wessex.

The Kingdom of Sussex was founded circa 470. It became subject to Wessex in 827 and was fully integrated into the crown of Wessex in 860. During the Norman conquest of England, Sussex was the site of the decisive battle between the Anglo-Saxon army of Harold Godwinson and William the Conqueror’s Norman-French troops. The victory in the Battle of Hastings cemented William’s authority over England.

Sussex was heavily affected by the Hundred Years’ War and the Dissolution of the Monasteries initiated by Henry VIII, but it managed to escape the worst ravages of the English Civil War. In the 19th century, Sussex was one of the counties affected by the Swing Riots (a widespread uprising by agricultural workers who protested against harsh working conditions and mechanization).

Sussex also played a prominent role in both world wars. During World War I, the Royal Sussex Regiment suffered heavy losses in the Battle of Boar’s Head on June 30, 1916. During World War II, the county’s airfields played an important role in the Battle of Britain.

In 2006, Worthing resident Ian Steedman came up with the idea of celebrating Sussex Day. He suggested it to local politician Henry Smith, the then leader of West Sussex County Council. Thanks to Smith’s support, the holiday was officially recognized in 2007. The date of the holiday, June 16, was chosen because it is the feast day of Saint Richard of Chichester, also known as Richard de Wych, who is venerated as the patron saint of Sussex.

On Sussex Say, the Flag of Sussex is flown in each of the six rapes (traditional subdivisions) of Sussex: Arundel, Bramber, Chichester, Hastings, Lewes, and Pevensey. The Sussex Flag, also known as Saint Richard’s Flag, was officially adopted in 2011. It consists of a blue field with six gold martlets (heraldic birds with no legs) that represent the six rapes of Sussex.

In towns and villages across Sussex, the holiday is celebrated with reading out the Sussex Charter and singing “Sussex by the Sea”, a patriotic song considered the unofficial county anthem of Sussex, as well as with various events celebrating the rich history and culture of Sussex.

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Sussex Day, Saint Richard’s Day, religious observances, county days in England, Saint Richard of Chichester