The respectable seaside resort of Hastings is one of the original Cinque Ports (a pre Tudor navy defence) that once guarded our shores.
Hastings Sea Front © Travel About Britain
The town provides all the usual paraphernalia of the seaside, yet still retains much of its original character. A two-tier promenade separates a busy road from the wide shingle beach, fronted by shops and hotels. Seaside entertainment ranges from concert orchestras and brass bands to Punch and Judy. There is also a small amusement park to keep the kids happy. Sea trips are available from the harbour arm, and row boats can be hired in the summer at the boating lake. There is also an indoor and outdoor swimming pool.
Most people connect the town with the Battle of Hastings (1066). The invading army did land on these shores but the battle itself took place some 6 miles inland, in a field near the town of Battle. William's arrival is commemorated by the Conqueror's Stone - located on the shore near the pier. It is said to have been used as a table where he enjoyed his first meal in England. In 1966 the Royal School of needlework created a 243 foot-long tapestry, depicting 81 major events in British history since 1066. It is currently displayed in the Town Hall, Queen's Road.
The Norman army fortified Hastings with a castle, not long after the battle. All that remains today is part of the curtain wall, a gatehouse, tower and dungeons. Near to the castle are St Clement's Caves, one of the most extensive cave systems in south-east England - believed to have been once used as a smugglers' lair. Both attractions are open to the public.
Hastings old town lies between Castle Hill and East Cliff. Its twisting narrow streets are packed with a mixture of houses from medieval to Victorian. Some very fine 16th and 17th-c houses surround the village green. The Queen's Head, dating from the 15th-c, is one the town's many fine old inns. Churches include the 14th-c St Clement's, the 15th-c Church of All Saints and the Roman Catholic church of St Mary Star-of-the-Sea (1880-3).
The local fishing industry still thrives here, despite the silting up of the harbour. Boats are winched up onto the shingle beach when not at sea. The tall wooden net drying huts on the shore are a reminder of this past way of life. The Fishermen's Museum, originally a chapel (circa 1854), houses an interesting collection of photographs, documents and mementos of this traditional livelihood.
Hastings Pier © Travel About Britain
The old Victorian pier (circa 1872) was fully restored in 2015. Access to the pier is free. It has no amusement arcades but there are a number of refreshments outlets. To the east of the town lies Hastings Country Park, with 520 acres of woodland, glens, nature trails and cliff top walks.
Opened in 1956 in a small fishermen's church. It has a range of maritime exhibits, photographs, pictures, model boats and other interesting objects concerning the fishing and maritime history of Hastings. Run by the Old Hastings Preservation Society. A key exhibit is the town's last sailing lugger, the Enterprise, built in 1912.
Opening times: Easter
to Sept, daily (exc. Fri) - Free
Entry - donations welcome.
Location: 21 Rock-A-Nore Rd, Hastings TN34 3DW
Tel: 01424 461446
Built one year after the 1066 conquest, it was one of many castles built by William the Conqueror throughout the country. Initially it was a simple wooden palisade on the cliff-top above the town. This was later developed into a stone built castle, the ruins of which are now open to visitors.
Opening times: Easter to Sept, daily, 10am to 3pm - Admission Charge
Location: Castle Hill Rd, Hastings TN34 3JL
Tel: 01424 444412
The part provides access to extensive open countryside and cliff-top walks with beautiful views of the sea and downs. From the visitor centre you take one of many nature trails that lead to several beauty spots such as Ecclesbourne Glen and Fairlight Glen.
Opening times: any
reasonable time - Free Entry
Location: 148 Martineau Ln, Hastings TN35 5DR
Tel: 01424 451050
Located near the castle on West Hill is a series of caves once used by smugglers. They now form part of the "Smuggler's Cave Adventure" attraction, which tells the story of smuggling in and around Hastings, several hundred of years ago.
Opening times: all year, daily - Admission Charge
Location: St Clement’s Caves, Hastings TN34 3JJ
Tel: 01424 422964