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Hastings – A Traditional Seaside Town Famous Since 1066
Hastings is a popular seaside town on the East Sussex coast. It will forever be associated with the famous battle waged between King Harold and William the Conqueror in 1066 for the throne of England. Of course, William was victorious and drastically changed the course of history in this country. Today, Hastings is an important fishing town with the largest beach-based fleet in Europe. It also welcomes many tourists each year looking to visit seafront attractions such as the Pier and the delightful Old Town with its lovely shops and restaurants.
Discover Hastings City Centre
Hastings offers plenty of choice for the avid shopper, with Priory Meadow Shopping Centre on Queens Road offering well-known high street stores. Further along, Queens Road meets Wellington Place and Robertson Street to form a large pedestrianised shopping area with more high street chains. This area features popular restaurants serving Italian, Turkish and other international cuisines and there are nearby accommodation options here too with a selection of budget and mid-range hotels to choose from. Other points of interest in the vicinity include the mainline railway station and the University of Brighton Campus. A short walk along the seafront leads into the picturesque George Street, part of the Old Town, which features cafés and antique shops. West Hill Funicular Railway is located here which takes passengers up to the historic Hastings Castle that’s open between March and October. Built at the behest of William the Conqueror, it is now a ruin but still offers fantastic views over Hastings.
Hasting Old Town
The Old Town is a must-see. It is the traditional heart of Hastings and a walk along the High Street is like a journey through history; medieval, Georgian and Victorian architectural styles sit side-by-side to create a picture-postcard backdrop. There is a great selection of independent shops selling souvenirs, antiques and other items and the traditional pubs and restaurants offer delicious meals and refreshments. Bed and breakfast accommodation is available in traditional inns which makes a nice change from hotel chains. Some of the best times to visit the Old Town are during the popular festivals that are held here. Old Town Week is an annual celebration held in the summer, usually the first week of August. Parties, music events and races are some of the fun events and a procession of floats brings the celebrations to a close. Over the May Day Weekend, Jack-in-the-Green is another popular festival with traditional folk dancers and a fun-filled parade.
Hastings Pier and the Seafront
Hastings Pier is one of the landmark attractions in Hastings. Opened in 1872, over its lifetime it has suffered storm damage and was almost completely destroyed by a fire in 2010. After years of rebuilding, it finally re-opened in 2016 and now features several eateries such as The Deck which is a great spot to enjoy a drink while looking out onto the sea. Other attractions include the Memories Room which explains the Pier’s long history and seasonal events such as ‘Neverland at Christmas’ with festive kiosks and fun fair rides. Along the seafront there are plenty of fish and chips shops and amusements to keep the whole family entertained and also high-end hotel accommodation. Another funicular railway, The East Hill Cliff Railway, can be found on Rock-a-Nore Road; it’s the steepest funicular railway in the whole of the UK and takes visitors up to Hastings Country Park with views over the Old Town.
Museums and Other Family Attractions
Hastings has a great selection of family-friendly attractions to amuse young and old alike. As well as offering beautiful scenery for a pleasant walk, Hastings Country Park is also home to Smuggler’s Adventure. Here, visitors can discover how smugglers brought contraband goods into the town though the dark, narrow tunnels called St. Clements Caves. A short walk away on Rock-a-Nore Road is Blue Reef Aquarium where visitors can see fish being fed and get hands on with reptiles. There’s also an underwater tunnel that gives stunning views of the creatures as they swim around. Just up the road, Hastings Fishermen’s Museum tells the tale of the town’s fishing industry and also features a 14-foot model ship. Next door, visit the free Shipwreck Museum to learn about the many ships that have come a cropper in the English Channel. In the town centre, Hastings Museum and Art Gallery features a collection of local artefacts and artworks.
The Battle of Hastings Site
To visit the site of the Battle of Hastings, take a trip to the aptly named town of Battle, around 20 minutes by car. Alternatively, there’s a direct train service from Hastings to Battle which takes just 16 minutes. At Battle, English Heritage offers a visitor centre with an introductory film describing the events that led to battle and the subsequent fighting. Part of the battlefield is now occupied by Battle Abbey which was built at the order of William in an act of penance for the slaughter. It is said the high altar was situated on the very spot Harold fell. While some of the Abbey is now in ruins, sections such as the Gate House are still impressively intact. Visitors can also hire an audio guide to learn more about the site’s history. In Battle’s High Street there are lovely traditional pubs that offer food and accommodation such as The George Hotel which is over 300 years old!