Hastings

Hastings Old Town
East Sussex 

 

 

Hastings Old Town sets Hastings apart from other south-east coastal resorts. Nowhere else have historic buildings and traditions been so well preserved and incorporated into a popular seaside resort. Even new buildings are designed to fit seamlessly into the streetscapes.
 
Hastings’ existence as a privileged medieval port, fishing town and an 18th century health and holiday resort influenced the town’s development. The East and West cliffs forced the town to expand up the hillsides of the Bourne Valley or west along the seafront to St Leonards.
 
The Stade
The shingle beach at the east end of Old Town is known as the Stade. It is a very picturesque spot dominated by the unique tall, black, wooden ‘Net Shops’ crowded together on the beach.
 
Our article Fishing in Hastings gives the history of these historic buildings. A visitor can spend hours here wandering among the old and new fishing boats pulled up on the beach and exploring the Fishermen's Museum.
 
Hidden away at the base of the East Cliff, beside the bottom station of the East Hill Lift funicular railway is the East Well. This natural spring bubbles out of the rock face and in the 1840s it was turned into a public drinking fountain. It still serves this purpose today.
 
Funicular Railway
A ride on the East Hill Lift is well worth doing not only for the hair-raising ascent up the cliff face but also for the magnificent views along the Hastings seafront. Lovely walks can then be taken in the Country Park at the top.
 
Stade Family Fun Park
Back down on the seafront is the Stade Family Park. This is an attractive amusement funfair with all manner of attractions suitable for timid adults and families.
 
Medieval Churches
The narrow winding streets and steps of the Old Town beckon the visitor up the hill to the medieval All Saints Church Hastings and St Clements Church, Hastings.
 
Hastings has been a magnet for writers, poets and artists especially in the 19th century. The Pre-Raphaelite painter, Dante Gabriel Rosetti was married in St Clements and there are several memorials to him.
 
Blue Plaques
There are over 40 blue plaques in Hastings Old Town marking significant and historic buildings. Two of the oldest thoroughfares are High Street and All Saints Street. Some of the town’s oldest surviving houses, dating from 1420, can be found in All Saints Street – one really gets an idea of what the medieval town would have looked like.
 
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Restaurants, Cafés, Shops, Pubs & Smugglers
Many of these historic buildings now serve as restaurants and cafés, shops and pubs.
 
The Georgian front of The Stag Inn at No.14, All Saints Street, hides a much older building.
 
Underground tunnels, possibly used by smugglers, run from the current cellar which was the original bar. There is a squint hole at the beginning of the tunnels that could have been used for checking there were no excise men about before the smugglers emerged.
 
Two mummified cats above the present bar were found when a fireplace was removed. Some believe they were walled up to ward off evil spirits!
 
Jack in the Green Festival Parade
The Old Town is a popular spot to view the May Bank Holiday Jack in the Green Festival parade. This pagan festival attracts thousands of visitors each year. Hastings hosts a number of festivals during the year - go to the Festivals & Events in Hastings page in this website for more information.
 
West Hill Lift & The Smugglers Adventure
At the western end of Old Town the ruins of Hastings Castle stand on the top of West Cliff. Avoid the steep climb by taking the West Hill Lift funicular railway; its entrance is in George Street. A very popular tourist attraction, The Smugglers Adventure, is located in St Clements Caves on West Hill.
 
Hastings Area Tourist Information
Website  Hastings TIC     External Link
 
We recommend that tourists visit the Hastings TIC to pick up a detailed street map. They can also book for the official guided tours of the Old Town.
 
TV Series ‘Foyle’s War’
Fans of the popular TV Series ‘Foyle’s War’ can pick up a book from the Hastings TIC full of information about the series and film locations around Old Town and the Stade. Many scenes of Foyle’s house were filmed outside 31 Croft Road.
 
Getting There
Following the instructions for 'Getting There' in the Hastings article in the website.
 
Google Maps - Hastings Old Town