Hastings is a town and
Borough on the
coast of East
Sussex in England.
includes originally separate settlements, as well as the inevitable
growth of the town through the building of new estates.
In historical terms, Hastings can claim fame through its connection
with the Norman conquest of
; and also because it became one of the medieval
. Hastings was, for
centuries, an important fishing port;
although much reduced, it has the largest beach-based fishing fleet
with many other such places, the town became a watering place in
the 1760s, and then, with the coming of the railway, a seaside resort
.The Town is sometimes referred
to as "the birthplace of television" since the pioneer of
television, John Logie Baird
at 21 Linton Crescent from 1922 to 1924.
The attraction of Hastings as a tourist destination continues;
although the numbers of hotels has decreased, it caters for wider
tastes, being home to internationally-based cultural and sporting
events, such as chess and running. It has set out to become "a
modern European town" and seeks to attract commercial business in
the many industrial sites round the borough.
The earliest mention of Hastings is found in the late 8th century
in the form Hastingas
. This is derived from the Old
English tribal name Hæstingas
meaning "Hæsta's people", "the family/followers of Hæsta".
Symeon of Durham records the victory of
Offa in 771 over the Hestingorum gens,
that is, "the people of the Hastings tribe", and the same tribe
gave their name to Hastingleigh in Kent.
An alternative form of the name,
, is found in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
There is evidence of prehistoric settlements at the site of the
town: flint arrowheads and Bronze Age
artefacts have been found; Iron Age
have been excavated on both the East and West Hills suggests an
early move to the safety of the valley in between, so that the
settlement was already a port when the Romans
arrived in Britain for the first time in
55 BC. At this time they began to exploit the iron (Wealden
rocks provide a plentiful supply of the ore), and so the port was
useful to them. One of the many local sites where the iron was
worked at Beauport Park, to the north of the town, which employed
up to one thousand men and is considered to have been the third
largest in the Roman Empire.
With the departure of the Romans the town suffered setbacks. The
Beauport site had been abandoned; and natural and man-made attacks
began. The Sussex coast has always suffered from occasional violent
storms; with the additional hazard of longshore drift
(the eastward movement of
shingle along the coast) the coastline has been frequently
changing. The original Roman port could now well be under the
Man-made attacks possibly included the Danish invaders, with their
harbour in the west of the borough. Bulverhythe
, where its original site is
conjectured, suggests that: -hythe
a port or small haven. A royal mint in Hastings was established in
AD 928 during the reign of Athelstan.
of the Norman Conquest was the
Hastings, fought on 14 October
1066; although the battle itself took place
eight miles to the north at Senlac Hill, and William had landed on
the coast between Hastings and Eastbourne at a site now known as
It is thought that the Norman encampment was
on the town’s outskirts, where there was open ground; a new town
was already being built in the valley to the east. That "New Burgh"
was founded in 1069, and is mentioned in the Domesday Book
as such. William defeated and
killed Harold Godwinson, the last Saxon King of England, and
destroyed his army; thus opening England to the Norman
William caused a castle to be built at Hastings probably using the
earthworks of the existing Saxon castle.
Hastings was shown as a borough
by the time
of the Domesday Book
(1086); it had
also given its name to the Rape
of Hastings, one of the six
administrative divisions of Sussex. As a borough, Hastings had a
consisting of a "bailiff,
jurats, and commonalty". By a Charter of Elizabeth I
in 1589 the bailiff was
replaced by a mayor.
Hastings and the sea
By the end of the Saxon period, the port of Hastings had moved
eastward near the present town centre in the Priory Stream valley,
whose entrance was protected by the White Rock headland (since
demolished). It was to be a short stay: Danish attacks and huge
floods in 1011 and 1014 motivated the townspeople to relocate to
the New Burgh.
Middle Ages Hastings became one of the Cinque Ports; Sandwich, Dover, and
Romney being the first, Hastings, and Hythe followed, all finally being joined by Rye and Winchelsea, at one point 42 towns were directly or indirectly
affiliated to the group.
In the 13th century much of the town was washed away by the sea.
During a naval
campaign of 1339
, and again in 1377, the town was raided and
burnt by the French, and seems then to have gone into a decline. As
a port, Hastings' days were finished.
Hastings had suffered over the years from the lack of a natural
harbour, and there have been attempts to create a sheltered
harbour. Attempts were made to build a stone harbour during the
reign of Elizabeth I
, but the
foundations were destroyed by the sea in terrible storms. The last
harbour project began in 1896, but this also failed when structural
problems and rising costsexhausted all the available funds. Today a
fractured seawall is all that remains of what might have become a
magnificent harbour. In 1897 the foundation stone was laid of a
large concrete structure, but there was insufficient money to
complete the work and the "Harbour arm" remains uncompleted. It was
partially blown up to discourage possible use by German invasion
forces during World War II
. The fishing
boats are still stored on and launched from the beach.
Hastings was now a small fishing settlement, but it was soon
discovered that the new taxes on luxury goods could be made
profitable by smuggling, and the town was ideally located for that.
castle ruins, on the West Hill, are "St Clement's Caves", partly natural, but mainly excavated by hand by
the smugglers from the soft sandstone.
Their trade was to
come to an end with the period following the Napoleonic Wars
, for the town became one of
the most fashionable resorts in Britain, brought about by the
so-called properties of seawater. Once this came about the
expansion of the town took place, to the west, since there was
little space left in the valley.
It was at this time that the elegant Pelham Crescent and Wellington
Square were built: other building followed. In the Crescent is the
classical style church of St Mary in the Castle (its name recalling
the old chapel in the castle above) now in use as an arts centre.
The building of the crescent and the church necessitated further
cutting away of the castle hill cliffs. Once that move away
from the old town had begun, it led to the further expansion along
the coast, eventually linking up with the new St
Like many coastal towns, the population of Hastings grew
significantly as a result of the construction of railway links and
the fashionable growth of seaside holidays during the Victorian era
. In 1801 its population was a
mere 3,175; by 1831 it had reached over ten thousand; by 1891 it
was almost sixty thousand, and the 2001 census reported over 85,000
In the 1930s the town underwent some rejuvenation. Seaside resorts
were starting to go out of fashion: Hastings perhaps more than
most. The town council set about a huge rebuilding project, among
which the promenade was rebuilt; and an Olympic-size bathing pool
was erected. The latter, regarded in its day as one of the best
open-air swimming and diving complexes in Europe, closed some years
ago. The area is still known by locals as "The Bathing Pool".
Hastings returned two Members of
from the 14th century to 1885 since when it has
returned one. It has been contained since 1983 in the
parliamentary constituency of Hastings and Rye; the current MP, since 1997, is Michael Foster of the Labour
Prior to 1983, the town was in an eponymous seat of its
Hastings, it is thought, was a Saxon town before the arrival of the
Normans: the Domesday Book
refers to a
: as a borough, Hastings had a corporation
consisting of a "bailiff, jurats,
and commonalty". Its importance was such that it also gave its name
to one of the six Rapes
administrative districts of Sussex.
By a Charter of Elizabeth I
in 1589 the bailiff was replaced by a mayor, by which time the
town's importance was dwindling. In the Georgian
era, patronage of such seaside places (such as nearby Brighton) gave it a new lease of life so that, when the time
came with the reform of English local government in 1888, Hastings
became a County Borough, responsible
for all its local services, independent of the surrounding county,
then Sussex (East); less than one hundred years later, by the
in 1974, that status was
Borough Council is now in the second tier of local government,
Sussex County Council.
The Borough is divided into sixteen
on the map, they are in four areas, as below. Some explanation of
the ward names is also given:
||Notes including name origin
||Most central ward, including town centre and sea front
||Braybrooke Terrace is north of the town centre
||Well-established area of Hastings
|St Helens (part of Ore)
||Area north of town: included St Helens Wood
||includes Hastings Old
||One-time separate village: largest ward in borough
|Tressell (part of Ore)
||NNE of town centre; named after Robert Tressell
||NE of town centre; named after John
|Central St Leonards
||Main part of St Leonards, including sea front
||N of Central St Leonards ward; includes Gensing Gardens
||Between Central and West wards; one-time maze in West St
|West St Leonards
||Large ward extending to the Borough boundary
||Northernmost ward: contains Ashdown House
||Contains Conquest hospital
||One time village
||Area named after an ancient tree
notable suburbs of Hastings are Ore, St Leonards on Sea, Silverhill, Bulverhythe, and
Hastings town centre and the Memorial
from an old postcard
is situated where the sandstone beds, at
the heart of the Weald, known
geologically as the Hastings Sands, meet the English
Channel, forming tall cliffs to the east of the
town. Hastings Old Town
Hastings town centre in 2005
in a sheltered valley between the East Hill and West Hill (on which
the remains of the Castle stand). In Victorian times and later the town has
spread westwards and northwards, and now forms a single urban
centre with the more suburban area of St Leonards-on-Sea to the west. Roads from the Old Town valley lead
towards the Victorian area of Clive Vale and the former village of
Ore, from which
"The Ridge", marking the effective boundary of Hastings, extends
north-westwards towards Battle. Beyond Bulverhythe, the western end of Hastings is
marked by low-lying land known as Glyne Gap, separating it from Bexhill-on-Sea.
sandstone cliffs have been the subject of considerable erosion in
relatively recent times: much of the Castle was lost to the sea
before the present sea defences and promenade were built, and a
number of cliff-top houses are in danger of disappearing around the
nearby village of Fairlight.
The beach is mainly shingle, although wide areas of sand are
uncovered at low tide. The town is generally built upon a series of
low hills rising to above sea level at "The Ridge" before falling
back in the river valley further to the north.
also has a large Victorian park, Alexandra
three Sites of
Special Scientific Interest within the borough; Marline
Valley Woods, Combe
Haven and Hastings Cliffs To Pett
Marline Valley Woods lies within the Ashdown ward
of Hastings. It is an ancient woodland of pedunculate oak-hornbeam
which is uncommon nationally. Sussex Wildlife trust own part of the
site. Combe Haven is another site of biological interest, with
alluvial meadows, and the largest reed bed in the county, providing
habitat for breeding birds. It is in the West St Leonards ward,
stretching into the parish of Crowhurst. The final SSSI, Hastings Cliffs to Pett
Beach, is within the Ore ward of Hastings, extending into the
neighbouring Fairlight and Pett
The site runs along the coast and is of both
biological and geological interest. The cliffs hold many fossils
and has many habitats, including ancient woodland and shingle
Hastings suffers at a disadvantage insofar as growth is concerned
because of its restricted situation, lying as it does with the High
Weald Area of
Outstanding Natural Beauty
to the north. Redevelopment of the
area is partly hampered by the split administration of the combined
Hastings and Bexhill economic region between Hastings and Rother
district councils. There is little space for
further large-scale housing and employment growth. Most of the jobs
within the Borough are concentrated on health, public services,
retail and education. 85% of the firms (in 2005) employed fewer
than 10 people; as a consequence the unemployment rate was 3.3%
East Sussex 1.7%); and almost one-third of the
employable population had no skills at all in 2001.
This situation has now become the subject of parliamentary
consideration, and regeneration of the Borough is now being
considered at that level. From being the third tourist resort in
the country 50 years ago, Hastings has still not been able to shake
off its over-reliance on tourism. Urban regeneration was deemed
essential: too many of the buildings once used as hotels are still
unfit for modern use; many of them are now refugee
accommodation. There is a lack of
highly-skilled job opportunities, and education standards are low.
In addition Hastings has the highest proportion of elderly
people in the UK.
Crime rates in Hastings (per 1000 population)
|Theft of a motor vehicle
|Theft from a motor vehicle
|Violence against a person
Two of Hastings' beach-launched
fishing fleet with part of Old Town and East Cliff Railway in
Until the development of tourism, fishing
was Hastings' major industry. The beach launched fishing fleet,
based at the Stade
largest and has recently won accreditation for its sustainable
methods. The fleet has been based on the same beach, below the
cliffs at Hastings, for at least 400, possibly 600, years. Its
longevity attributed to the prolific fishing ground of Rye Bay
fishing vessels are registered at Rye, and thus
bear the letters "RX"
Near the Royal Victoria Hotel there is the "Conquerors Stone" where
William of Normandy
supposed to have eaten his first breakfast in England.
beach near the Old Town are the so-called "net shops", said to be
unique to Hastings, but similar buildings can be found in Whitby and Folkestone.
These are wooden constructions,
weatherboarded and tarred, of various shapes and sizes, used for
storage. The buildings were built tall and narrow to avoid payment
of ground tax. Net shops were not used for drying nets, instead
they were used to store them. Fishing nets were made from natural
material. They needed to be dry before being hung in a net shop
otherwise they would rot. Nets were dried on the beach or on the
piece of land known as the Minnis. The net huts are covered with
traditional "clinker" weather-boarding and most of them measure
about 25 feet in height by 8 feet square.
During the past 150 years, many net huts have been destroyed by
stormy seas, and in the 1950s some of them were demolished by the
Hastings Council as part of a clearance scheme for development of
the beach. About forty-five of these structures still survive and
are regularly maintained.
two major roads in Hastings: the A21 trunk road to London; and the
A259 coastal road.
Both are beset
with traffic problems: although the London road, which has to
contend with difficult terrain, has had several sections of
widening over the past decades there are still many delays.
plans for a much improved A259 east–west route (including a
Hastings bypass) were abandoned in the 1990s, but a new road to
Bexhill-on-Sea is planned to relieve the congested coastal
route. Hastings is also linked to Battle via the A2100, the
original London road. The A28 road
connects Hastings to Ashford, Canterbury and the Isle of Thanet. The A27 road starts
nearby at Pevensey. The Ring road includes parts of most of the main
The town is served by Stagecoach
buses on routes that serve the town; and also extend to Bexhill,
Eastbourne and Dover. National
run service 538 to London.
has four rail links: two to London, one to
Brighton and one to Ashford. Of the London lines, the shorter is the
Hastings Line, the former South Eastern Railway (SER) route
Cross via Battle and Tunbridge Wells, which opened in 1852; and the longer is the
East Coastway Line, the former
Brighton and South Coast Railway (LBSCR) route to Victoria via Bexhill, Eastbourne and Lewes.
Trains to Brighton also use the East Coastway Line. The Marshlink Line runs via Rye to Ashford
where a connection can be made with Eurostar services, and is unelectrified except for
the Hastings-Ore segment.
Hastings is served by two rail companies: Southeastern
services run along the Hastings Line, generally terminating at
Hastings, with some peak services extending to Ore; the other lines
are served by Southern, with services terminating at Ore or
currently has four railway stations: from west to east they are
Leonards station, St Leonards Warrior Square, Hastings, and Ore; this latter has been proposed to be renamed to Ore
There is also one closed station and one proposed
station in the area. West Marina station (on the LBSCR line) was very near West St
Leonards (on the SER line) and was closed some years ago.
new station has been proposed at Glyne Gap in Bexhill, which would
also serve residents from western Hastings. A high speed railway
from Bexhill to Ore has been proposed.
two funicular railways, known
locally as the West Hill and East Hill Lifts respectively.
The East Hill Lift
: one of
the two funicular railways in Hastings
Saxon Shore Way, (a long distance footpath, 163 miles
(262 km) in length from Gravesend, Kent traces the
Kent and Sussex coast “as it was in Roman times” to Hastings. The National Cycle Network route NCR2
links Dover to St
Austell along the south coast, and passes through
Historical transport systems
Hastings became part of the Turnpike road
system in 1837, when builder James Burton
was building his new
town of St Leonards. The route of the road is that taken by the A21
Hastings had a network of trams
from 1905 to
1929. The trams ran as far as Bexhill, and were worked by overhead
electric wires, except for the stretch along the seafront from
Bo-Peep to the Memorial, which was initially worked by the Dolter
stud contact system. The Dolter system was replaced by petrol
electric trams in 1914, but overhead electrification was extended
to this section in 1921. Trolleybuses
rather than trams were used in the section that included the very
narrow High Street, and the entire tram system was replaced by
trolleybuses in 1928–1929.
bought the Hastings Tramway Company in 1935, but
the trolleybuses still carried the "Hastings Tramways" logo until
shortly before they were replaced by diesel buses in 1959,
following the failure of the "Save our trolleys" campaign.
iconic landmarks, due to their being frequently used in the town's
tourist publicity, are almost certainly the castle on its sandstone
cliffs, and Hastings
Little remains of the Castle apart from an
arch of the chapel, some walls, and underground dungeons. The pier
itself is closed due to its being considered in an unsafe
condition. Violent storms during mid March 2008 have damaged the
In a similar vein, the old town of Hastings is certainly a
landmark. Many of the buildings there today date from the time when
the Georgians arrived here to "take the waters", although the two
churches (see below) are very much older. An example of the houses
is East Cliff House, designed and built between 1760 and 1762 by
Edward Capell, the Shakespearean critic and official censor of
plays, at a cost of £5,000. The house was constructed on the site
of the old East Fort, with a gun platform that may have been
adapted to form the front terrace of the building. The house was
abandoned during the Second World War
, from then on, it became a bingo centre and then a seafront
An important former landmark was "the Memorial", a clock tower
commemorating Albert the Prince
which stood for many years at the traffic intersection
at the town centre, but was demolished following an arson attack in
On the seafront at St Leonards is Marine
, a 1930s block of flats in the Art
style that is said to represent an ocean liner.
school founded by Rev William Parker in 1619 and that founded by
James Saunders in 1709 were eventually amalgamated to form Hastings
Grammar School, which later became the William
Parker Sports College.
It is now the only all-boys secondary
school in East Sussex.There is also a single-sex school for girls
in Hastings, called Helenswood, named after St Helenswood situated close by the
County Council has plans to close three mixed comprehensive
schools (Filsham School, The Grove School and Hillcrest
School) and replace them with two academy schools.
proposed sponsors for the academies are University
of Brighton (lead sponsor), British
Telecom and East Sussex County Council itself.
December 2008 the proposals are awaiting approval of the Secretary
of State for Children, Schools and Families
The most important buildings from the late medieval period are the
two churches in the Old Town, St Clement's (probably built after
1377) and All Saints (early 15th century).There is also a Muslim
mosque, formerly "Mercatoria School" until
purchased by the East
Sussex Islamic Association
Hastings has three museums: the Hastings Museum and Art Gallery;
the Old Town Hall Museum; and the Fishermen's Museum. These are all
open for the whole year. The Hastings Museum and Art Gallery
includes a Durbar Hall
Indian palace, donated by Lord Brassey
two places providing a theatrical venue: the White Rock
Theatre the town's multipurpose venue; and the Stables
Theatre, which shows mainly local productions and acts as an
arts exhibition centre.
Among other uses to which the main
theatre is put is to host the annual Hastings Music
. There is a small Odeon
cinema in Hastings, however there are plans to renovate an area
known as the 'Priory Quarter' in the town centre. Some of the plans
include large office spaces, retail units and a new large multiplex
cinema. The town has its own independent cinema known as "Electric
International Chess Congress
which started in 1882 attracts
international players to Hastings. The Hastings Writers' Group
claims to be
one of the oldest in the country: it was established in 1947.
Hastings has long been known as a retreat for artists and painters.
For example, the pre-Raphaelite painters including Dante Gabriel Rossetti
here in Hastings) and William Holman
, who painted pictures of nearby cliffs at Fairlight,
admired the town for its light and clear air .
The town has its fair share of "visitor attractions". These are
mostly clustered around the Fishmarket, near the dropping-off place
for the coaches, and include a miniature railway
, fairground rides and
amusement arcades; there are also many refreshment places in this
area of the town. The nearby cliff railways take visitors
further afield: to the Caves; and to Hastings
Country Park, an area of 12.67 km² (6.9 miles²) of lightly
wooded and open land extending from Hastings approximately 3 miles
(5 km) along the cliff tops to Fairlight.
The Blue Reef Aquarium (formerly Underwater World) is a popular
visitor attraction, as is the Smugglers' Adventure
Hastings Pier and beach in the Winter
The largest annual event is the May Day
weekend, which features a
(revived since 1983), and the Maydayrun
when tens of thousands of motorbikes
drive to Hastings.
There is also a yearly carnival, and Old Town Week
during August, a
Alexandra Park, and a Seafood and Wine Festival in the Old Town.
During Hastings week held each year around 14
the Hastings Bonfire Society stages a torchlight
procession through the streets, with a beach bonfire and
spectacular firework display. In 2007 the World Crazy Golf
Championship was held at the Adventure Crazy Golf Course.
There are many organisations and venues catering for the sports
enthusiast including angling, golf, lawn tennis, riding, rowing and
swimming. The Summerfields Leisure Centre provides the largest
venue. Another family pool (although outside the borough) with wave
machine and water slide is situated at Glyne Gap, on the coast
mid-way between Bexhill and Hastings.
The Hastings Half Marathon
becoming well-known around the country, being voted the best race
of its kind three years running, and has become known as the
unofficial "Great South Run". With numbers increasing every year,
in 2009 the race had nerly 5,000 entries.
team sports, Hastings is home to one senior football club, Hastings United, who play in the
Isthmian League Premier Division and use
Field as their home ground.
There are also many
other football clubs in Hastings that play in the East Sussex Football League
such as Hollington United and Hastings Rangers. The town's premier
cricket venue is now Horntye Park Sports Complex, home of Hastings
Priory. The previous venue, where Priory
Meadow Shopping Centre now stands, saw the final game played in
Hastings is home to two major rugby clubs, Hastings & Bexhill
R.F.C and Cinque Ports Rugby
. Hastings & Bexhill play their home
matches at William Parker Sports College and play in Division Four of the London Rugby Union
Cinque Ports play in the Sussex Rugby Union League
and play at The Grove School. Hastings' main hockey club is South Saxons,
who play and train on the town's only AstroTurf surface at Horntye Park
The AstroTurf is also used for other sports
such as football.
the athletics clubs in the Hastings & Rother Area is Hastings
Athletics Club: it uses the running track at William
Parker Sports College, the only running track in the area.
popular sport in the town is bowls: there are plenty of greens in
the town. The Hastings Open Bowls Tournament has been held annually
in June since 1911 and attracts many entrants country-wide.
- Eilert Ekwall, The Oxford Dictionary of English Place
Names, Oxford University Press 1936.
- Patrick Hanks and Flavia Hodges, The Oxford Names
Companion, Oxford University Press 2002. ISBN
- Seaside History: the Bathing Pool at Hastings
and St Leonards
- House of Commons Select Committee: Stakeholders in
- Crime Statistics
- Coastal Treasures - Hastings as a seaside
- east Sussex County Council:Bexhill to Hastings
- Robert J Harley, Hastings Tramways. Middleton Press
1993. ISBN 1 873793 18 9.
- East Sussex County Council announcement of academy
- Nairn, Ian, and Pevsner, Nikolaus, The Buildings of
England: Sussex, Page 119. Penguin, 1965
- Hastings Museum and Art Gallery
- Fishermen's Museum
- Electric Palace
- Hastings International Chess Congress
- Hastings Writers' Group
- The Earthly Paradise - Our English Coasts
Boroughs Bonfire Society
- Summerfields Leisure
- Hastings Open Bowls Tournament
- Down the Line to Hastings Brian Jewell, The Baton
Press ISBN 0 85936 223 X
- Robert J Harley, Hastings Tramways. Middleton Press
1993. ISBN 1 873793 18 9.
- Nairn, Ian, and Pevsner, Nikolaus, The Buildings of
England: Sussex, Page 119. Penguin, 1965