Our first trip on our Summer of Sussex tour begins with a Roman palace! Who would have thought that set in the English countryside of Sussex that there would be the largest residential Roman building found in the UK! Sure, lots of people know the Romans conquered ancient Britain but it is still a bit unreal that they made such a home base in Sussex.
One of the best things about Fishbourne Roman Palace, aside from it being huge, is the really really well preserved mosaic floors. The older floors are black and white mosaic and the newer ones are the coloured ones we are all familiar with. We took a free guided tour which was about 45 minutes long and well worth it. The guide explained some of the history of the different mosaics and told us some interesting facts – such as, you can always tell where a doorway would have been as the pattern changes!
He explained the palace was found by a farmer who was digging up the field and basically dug a huge trench through one of the mosaics! Oops! On your way around you can see rooms where underfloor heating was being installed and remains of a couple of bread ovens.
The palace itself is rectangular and has some formal gardens around the edge. It’s awesome to be able to walk through the grounds and see where the palace perimeter would have been. The palace burnt down around 270 AD and was kind of abandoned after that. Our guide told us that much of the building material was systematically taken away over the following years before it was left to become a ruin.
There is an informational video and an exhibition on the life story of the palace. They did explain to us it is best to visit at the weekend as it gets pretty busy with school trips during the week! It is a fab place to come with kids who want to learn about Roman palaces.
You can either do a tour like we did, wander around yourself or even take another tour to see some of the artefacts. There is loads of outside space to bring a picnic or there is a cafe on sight too. We spent a couple of hours on the tour and wandering around but you could make more of a day of it if you wanted.
Our entrance was £9.80 each but as we were able to gift aid it meant we now have a ticket that lasts us a whole year! Ideal if you’re local and have kids. Plus the entrance helps keep this amazing site in good condition – especially important as it is prone to flooding.
That wraps up our first Summer of Sussex post!! Check back soon to see what we get up to next – hint it involves cars!
Find out more information and details of how to visit Fishbourne Roman Palace here.
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