The chalk cliffs at Peacehaven provide one of the best known images of England’s south coast, stretching along the English Channel. The Undercliff Walk and the clifftop walk form part of the Seahaven Coastal Trail. Much of it overlooks the sea at Friars’ Bay and runs from the Eastern end of Peacehaven near Chene Gap, to Telscombe Cliffs, just beyond Lincoln Avenue. This two a half mile walk gives views to the east to Newhaven and west to Brighton.
The residents of Peacehaven were given access to the beach soon after the end of World War I, when the Bastion Steps were built. These 188 metal steps lead down to the sea wall and Undercliff Walk at the end of Steyning Avenue. The cliffs here show a clear distinction between the natural profile on the east and a trimmed chalk face, west of the steps. By 1997, the entire Peacehaven frontage had been protected by a sea wall and undercliff walk.
There is an alternative access to the Undercliff Walk east of Bastion Steps at Cliff Avenue, Peacehaven, at Friars’ Bay Cliff Steps, where a path has been cut through the cliffs down to the beach at Friars’ Bay. There is road access to the Undercliff Walk down a ramp at Malines Avenue near Telscombe Cliffs.
On top of the cliffs off the A259 road at Peacehaven, is the Meridian Marker and King George V Memorial. It marks the point where the Prime Meridian Line, which starts at Greenwich, leaves British shores. The Memorial was unveiled in August 1936 and has had to be relocated twice, due to cliff erosion. The chalk cliffs here often recede 40 cm annually, due to sea erosion.
Peacehaven was the filming location for the first episode of the Mr. Bean television series in 1990. Rowan Atkinson played Mr. Bean, who rarely talked and became the very popular comedy character on television and in the cinema.
In the classic episode one, Mr. Bean came down Friars’ Bay Cliff Steps to the beach and changed into his swimming trunks without showing any bare flesh. Mr. Bean did not realise that the only other person on the beach was a blind man.