The Rapes Of Sussex.


Initially used for administrative purposes, as depicted on this map from Wikishire


along with their constituent “Hundreds”, each of these areas is culturally important to the heritage of Sussex, equal to the Ridings of Yorkshire and the Parts of Lincolnshire, although in the modern era the majority of people in Sussex are not conscious of these unique internal territorial divisions. However, they remain culturally significant and have never been formally abolished. The Sussex Rapes are also prominently displayed on John Speed’s 17th century map of Sussex.

speed sussex

In the second decade of the 21st century, flags for the Sussex rapes were created by county based vexillographer (flag designer) Brady Ells. The designs have a universal look and feel to them to indicate that they represent the Rapes of Sussex, rather than the individual towns or cities from which they take their names. A blue triangle with six gold martlets is placed against the hoist to represent the county and maintains the 3,2,1 pattern of the martlets at all angles. Whilst to date, the flags have not been included by the Flag Institute on its registry, the de facto circumstances regarding their commercial availability, usage and recognition, as is evident in the photographs included in the following account, justify their inclusion in this listing of local flags used by county territories.

The designs follow, from west to east.


The Rape Of Chichester.


The flag of the Rape of Chichester is charged with 14 red gouttes (tear drops). These drops are from the arms


of the city of Chichester, granted in 1570. Most depictions of the city arms display 14 gouttes in the pattern 5,4,3,2.


The reasoning behind the gouttes on the city arms is unknown, however they have since become firmly established symbols of the locality and also featured on the border of the arms of the former Chichester Rural District Council.

Chich Rural.png
Sussex-Chichester.gifThe flag is available to buy here.

The Rape Of Arundel


The flag for the Rape of Arundel is charged with 3 black martlets, a symbol with which the town has long been associated. This charge is a pun on the town’s name – a martlet is a heraldic representation of a swallow, which in French is hirondelle, a word very similar to the name of the town. Three martlets appear on the town’s civic arms

granted in 1939 and another appears as the crest over the shield.

It should be noted that the three martlets on the flag bear more of a resemblance to a swift, to contrast more effectively with the Sussex Martlets against the hoist. This stylisation also reflects their appearance on earlier town seals

swiftsas well as the depiction on the current civic crest, above. Additionally a “swift style” martlet is used as a logo by Arundel town council


which further appears as a decoration on the town’s Mayoral Chain.


The depiction is also the badge of Arundel Football Club.

Arundel footballclub.png

The flag is available to buy here.

The Rape Of Bramber


The flag of the Rape of Bramber is charged with 5 crosslets. These Crosslets derive from the coat of arms of William VII de Braose


2nd Baron Braose, circa 1298. The de Braose family were ‘Lords of Bramber’ since the rape was established in the late 11th century. Although earlier ancestors and Lords had different coats of arms, it is this coat of arms which stuck and still appears on local insignia, an example being the badge of Beeding & Bramber Cricket Club.


The Crosslets appeared on the 13th Century Borough Seal of New Shoreham


, highlighting the role of the de Braose family as Lords of the Rape of Bramber, in which Shoreham is situated. An adapted version of the de Braose arms


was used by Shoreham Urban District Council from 1933. Another town located in the Rape of Bramber is Horsham upon whose civic arms,


granted in 1975, a single crosslet appears with another on the crest over the shield. The arrangement exhibits the town’s links to the Rape of Bramber and the de Braose family.

The Crosslets on the flag of the Rape are blue, reversing the colours of the de Braose coat of arms to facilitate deployment against a gold field.

The Bramber flag in flight in Lancing

and here

in High Salvington.


The flag is available to buy here.

The Rape Of Lewes


The flag of the Rape of Lewes is charged with a Tower in Gold & Blue checks. A tower has long been used as a symbol of Lewes, representing Lewes Castle and features on the badge of Lewes Football ClubLewes-FC-logo.pngand Sussex Police


whose headquarters is located in Lewes. The gold and blue checks are those of the de Warenne family


, Barons of Lewes since the Norman Conquest whose check pattern also led to the adoption of the Surrey flag , where they were Earls. The de Warrene checks feature heavily on the arms of the town.


and are used by the town’s swimming club

Lewes SC

The arms of Hove

also include the de Warrene checks to denote the town’s location in the Rape of Lewes, as does the badge of Longhill High School

in Rottingdean. The de Warenne checks are also present in the insignia of Brighton General Hospital.


The coat of arms of Lewes District Council, granted in 1975, makes use of the gold and blue checks as a border, highlighting the District Council’s remit covering part of the Rape of Lewes.


The Lewes flag flying alongside the Sussex county flag


The flag is available to buy from here.

The Rape Of Pevensey


The flag of the Rape of Pevensey is charged with a red spread eagle. The design depicts the ‘Pevensey Eagle’ which originated on the arms


of the de Aquila family. Euguenulf de Aquila came over with William I and was killed at the Battle of Hastings; his descendant, Gilbert de Aquila, was bestowed with the Rape of Pevensey. The area was known between 1106 and 1234 as the ‘Honour of the Eagle’.

This red eagle is found on this example


of Goss ware China from the early twentieth century, appears on the recently installed town sign of Pevensey


and features on the logos of Pevensey Parish Council


and Pevensey Bay Sailing Club


which also uses the device for a sailing penannt, set against a field of gold.


Eastbourne’s motorcycle speedway team, based in Arlington, has used the nickname “The Eagles” since it was established in 1937 and used eagle emblems

An eagle further features at right in the chief, the upper section, of the shield on the arms of Seaford Town Council


in reference to the Rape of Pevensey and the L’Aquila family. These arms are themselves derived from the mid-19th century, eagle bearing, seal of Seaford

An eagle also appears, as the crest of the coat of arms of Lewes District Council,

granted in 1975, in reference to the council’s remit over part of territory of the Rape of Pevensey.

The flag is seen flying here


in the village of Westham, between the towns of Pevensey and Eastbourne, here

at the Pevensey Court House Museum which also features the flag on a bookmark


and here

alongside the Sussex county flag. The design has also been produced as decorative bunting


The flag of Pevensey is available to buy here.

The Rape Of Hastings


The charge on the flag of the Rape of Hastings is a vessel which first appeared on the common seal of the Barons of Hastings.


Boats also appeared on the 12th and 13th century seals of Rye


and Winchelsea.


The vessel is coloured red and blue in reference to the coat of arms of Hastings


These arms derive from the arms of the Cinque Ports


, which are also used to represent both Rye and Winchelsea.

It should also be noted that a vessel appears on the top of Winchelsea’s village sign

A tee-shirt


and mug


bearing the Hastings rapal flag are available from I Love Hastings company, seen here


The flag is available to buy here.

All six rapal flags featured, along with the county flag, at a Sussex wedding



Useful Links

Rapes of Sussex

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