Attractions and Places to Visit in Hastings
Hastings is on the South Coast and grew from a small settlement between the East and West Hills. Hastings was attacked by the French during the Hundred Years War, and in 1377, a second attack all but destroyed the town.
The Old Town's architecture ranges from Medieval to Victorian. One of the oldest buildings, the Court House is believed to have been built around 1450. There are ancient churches and the Old Town Hall, which now houses a museum. There are lots of passages and narrow streets (called twittens) that are worth exploring that go off the Old Town High Street. There are cafes, bars and restaurants that add to the cosmopolitan atmosphere of the Old Town.
Hastings has the largest fishing fleet in Europe that is launched from a beach, which is known as the Stade. The Castle built by William the Conqueror but now in ruins is at the top of West Hill and offer wonderful views of the area and Channel. The steepest funicular railway in Britain takes passengers from the Old Town up to the Castle.
Hastings Museum and Art Gallery has amongst its highlights exhibitions dedicated to American Indians and Grey Owl, an early conservationist, who came from Hastings and John Logie Baird who pioneered television in Hastings. There is also a reproduction of an Indian Durbar Hall, which was created for an Indian and Colonial Exhibition in Kensington in 1886.
There are many other attractions in Hastings, both architectural and cultural, which include a theatre, parks and gardens. The town hosts several events throughout the year, which include the Hastings Half Marathon, the Jack in the Green Festival, Hastings Beer Festival, Coastal Currents and the Old Town Carnival.
There have been many famous and illustrious residents and visitors to the town, which include J M F Turner, Beatrix Potter and Charles Dickens. The Old Town and beach are important locations in the popular television series 'Foyle's War' starring Michael Kitchen and Honeysuckle Weeks.
Some superb insights into old England await at Tonbridge. Idyllic manor houses and a postcard-pretty castle sit in an ancient landscape where woods and fields undulate towards villages and hop farms. Tonbridge also prides itself with some intriguing Jane Austen links to the town.
At the centre of this fascinating portion of Kentish life sits Tonbridge, a market town since the Middle Ages that still buzzes today. Here, tucked in beside the River Medway, is 11th century Tonbridge Castle. This is Kent's best example of a motte-and-bailey gatehouse, where audio tours and interactive exhibits bring history to life.
Situated 85 km from London, Hastings is a modestly populated town (90,000 inhabitants) and not the most culturally diverse. 94% of the town’s population is white British, compared to 45% in London. But various new openings may be about to change this: the SAGA offices and the Creative Media Centre have recently opened their doors here. The newly revamped University of Brighton in Hastings campus, a faculty of the University of Brighton, is also attracting thousands of young people to the town. Where there are young people there are inevitably cultural events, hangouts and new, fresh ideas to boost the liveliness of the arts scene. There is also encouragement from above – from the local authorities – who have set out on a grand scheme to mould Hastings into an attractive art and culture destination.
Towns such as Hastings, which lie within easy reach of London, with convenient and fast travel links to the central business district, often struggle with an inferior investment in the arts and independent initiatives to develop new activities on the cultural scene. In Hastings, the Hastings and Bexhill Task Force set up a 10-year plan to regenerate the local economic scene and pump potential into the private sector. The numerous projects undertaken have almost all reached completion and have enlivened the economy in the intended way. The Creative Media Center is one of the strongholds of creative start-ups, which have come to settle in Hastings, either because of an existing link with the city, or because of the cheaper rents, larger office spaces and room for breathing, both literally and symbolically, for reaching new horizons with design and arts.
The erection of the Jerwood Gallery in the historic museum quarter of Hastings was a controversial and not a universally well-received novelty. Despite its ability to bring new interest in the city on a national scale, residents found the big black block an unwelcome addition to a town where a number of permanent residents cling on to its origins as an early medieval centre, the scene for the infamous Battle of Hastings and an ancient and important fishing port. Those who defend its place on the arts landscape of Hastings cite the light-reflecting hand-glazed black tiles, and the rolling exhibitions which showcase the best of 20th and 21st century British art. Others would bite back with the fact that it came to steal away visitors from the rustic crowd-pleasers: the Fishermen’s Museum and the Shipwreck Museum. However, with the notable arrival of artists and independent galleries, as well as the accompanying boutiques, tourist trade and passing artists, even those who were adamantly against it are being forced to acknowledge the advantages of having the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings.
Smaller, independent galleries also line the roads, and the artists that exhibit and sell their works bear a heavy influence from the landscape surrounding them. The artists at Rebel Gallery have all lived and worked in various cities, including London, but their photography and canvases radiate light and work particularly on natural and iridescent blues and greens. Hastings maintains a rural aspect which Brighton lost long ago and which London long ago traded in for greys and muted tones.