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MARKET TOWNS OF SUSSEX (from SDUK Penny Cyclopedia)

Newhaven in 1842

Newhaven is a small and neat town, near the centre of the county, and the south-eastern corner of the rape of Lewes, in which it is situated, at a distance of 56 miles from London. The ancient name of the town was Meeching, but when the channel of the Ouse was diverted from Seaford and made to enter the sea in a straight line southward, the old name was changed. At what period this occurred is not ascertained : it must have been anterior to the time of Elizabeth, for the haven at Seaford was then decayed.

The town consists of one main street, with two smaller ones at right angles, built on the western side of the river, and one mile from the sea. The harbour is the sole cause of its importance, and it is much frequented, being by far the best tidal harbour between Portsmouth and the Downs. The harbour has been already described. [SEAFORD.] The mouth is protected by a battery on the heights near Castle Hill, where there are the remains of an ancient circular fortification large enough to have contained 5,000 men.

The river is crossed by a drawbridge, erected in 1784. The inhabitants are chiefly occupied in maritime pursuits, and ship-building has been prosecuted with success. There is a custom-house, and large bonding warehouses for corn and wines. The chief imports consist of coals, timber, corn, wine, and spirits, and there is also a good coasting-trade in flour and butter. The exports are very limited, most of the vessels going out in ballast. The church stands on a hill to the west of the town : the nave is modern, but the round eastern wall of the chancel marks its Saxon origin. The benefice is a discharged rectory, in the archdeaconry of Lewes, with an average net income, in 1835, of £186. The population in 1831 was 904.