Broad tree-lined avenues, splendid Victorian fašades and grassy squares give the impression of regency splendour from days gone by.
Although the railway came here in 1849, it was not until 1858 that the main development really started. Once a collection of small hamlets (the old village can be found 1 mile or 1.6 km inland), Eastbourne's fate changed when the Earl of Burlington became the seventh Duke of Devonshire and one of the most wealthy men in England. The Duke owned some two-thirds of the land where the town now stands and he, in conjunction with Carew Davies Gilbert who owned a quarter of the surrounding area, went about creating a 'town for gentlemen' on this practically green-field site.
The grandeur survives today. Covenants stipulate that no shops or other commercial buildings are allowed on the seafront and as a result, the elegant 3-mile (5 km) promenade is lined with fine buildings, such as The Grand,
Queen's and Burlington hotels, which were built in the 1870's. The garish entertainment venues of other seaside towns are notably missing in Eastbourne. Instead, the town supports a fine array of concert halls and theatres - all very quiet and refined. The shopping area is a mix of the modern well-known high street stores and smaller specialist shops, as well as areas dedicated to the antique hunter. Eastbourne also has a pier with all the typical seaside amenities.
Today, its reputation for quality survives, with 90,000 people having decided to settle here. Sheltered by Beachy Head, the town is also a popular holiday destination and has had many rich and famous visitors since it was built. Some of George III's children were amongst the first, Charles Darwin wrote part of his 'Origin of Species' in a house on Marine Parade and Claude Debussy the composer was here for a while in 1905. Having won many awards for its gardens and beach, Eastbourne is one of the finest resorts on the South Coast and the ideal place to come for a break.