Two Things dominate the character of the bustling East Sussex town of Hastings – the sea and 1066. One of the medieval Cinque Ports, Hastings has long had a close relationship with the sea, and although its fishing industry has declined, it still has Europe’s largest beach-launched fishing fleet. As for the Norman Conquests, Hastings is not the actual location of the famous battle in 1066. That exact spot is just a few miles down the road at Battle Abbey. However, its legacy still colors the entire town. The remains of William the Conqueror’s first English castle still stand today, though centuries of warfare and erosion have taken their toll.
Today Hastings offers a range of attractions for the short break visitor. From Britain’s steepest funicular railway, to the meandering alleyways of the Old Town, it’s a great place to explore for a few days.
Hastings also boasts a lively (and growing) arts scene. Every year the coastal Current Arts Festival brings a stunning variety of works and performances to Hastings. This innovative, creative side to Hastings comes out in unexpected places. The seafront is now decorated with several impressive light displays – including the wonderful Sticks of Rock!
Fragmentary remains of the Norman castle built on Hastings’ West Hill after William the Conqueror’s victory at the Battle of Hastings. There are dungeons and the 1066 Story audiovisual presentation is situated alongside in a siege tent. Good views across Hastings and out to sea.
An exciting adventure for all the family as you explore the sandstone wonders of St Clements Caves and discover many surprises around every darkened corner. These acres of caverns conceal Hastings’ exhilarating history of smugglers, bootleggers and warring gangs. They became a tourist attraction in Victorian times and on February 22 1864 they even had a visit from the Prince and Princess of Wales. In the 17th Century, a couple lived in the caves after being discharged from the town’s workhouse for repeated misbehavior. This is just one of countless stories to be discovered in the dark depths of the caves.
Housed in the Regency town hall, the museum displays are arranged as a walk back in time through the history of Hastings Old Town. Topics covered include seaside holidays, wartime, the fishing industry, the Napoleonic garrison, smuggling, Titus Oates, Tudor and medieval life, the Cinque Ports and the Norman and Saxon mint. Special features include reconstructions of a fisherman’s cottage, a Georgian drawing room, a Cinque Ports ship and dioramas of the town at different periods. There is also some early 20thC film footage.