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"We conquered the Saxon at Hastings, and a nice little handful it is."
Rudyard Kipling

Best known for its historical importance in the Battle of 1066 between the Normans and the Saxons, Hastings draws the tourist trade on three fronts. Visitors are attracted by its historical importance, to relax in a seaside resort or to bathe in its maritime past and present.

1066 is a symbolic date marking the subjection of England by William the Conqueror and his barons. It is also the last time a foreign invader would gain ultimate reign over Britain. The historic Battle of Hastings was fought at Battle, just a few miles away . It was here that William, 7th Duke of Normandy, defeated King Harold Godwinson. William the Conqueror and his successors went on to put down firm roots on British soil reinforcing cultural, economic and political relations between the Anglo-Saxons and the Normans. Building began in earnest and shortly after victory, William built Hastings Castle, the remains of which you can visit here today.

One of the original Cinque Ports, the lack of a natural harbour at Hastings led to the decline of its use as a port and a rise in the fishing industry. The Old Town is one of Hastings unique features. To walk through its lines of old, double-tiered, fishing 'net shops' is to take a trip into the past. These tall structures have been used by local fishermen for centuries and still house their gear to this day. For more information, head to the delightful Fishermen's Museum. Such was the dedication of the locals, they actually removed part of the wall of the museum, rather than dismantle one of the last traditional fishing boats. Immediately opposite is a little, local artists gallery. Something of an Aladdin's nest, it is backed by a little cave which is believed to have been used by the Romans.

Visitors with a maritime interest will also be delighted with the Shipwreck Museum which houses actual wrecks and recovered artefacts. Alternatively, you might simply want to sample some of cheap, fresh fish available at the local fish market. Not quite your style? Then get the adrenalin pumping by taking a ride on Britain's steepest railway. Excavated by hand, it has been open to the public since 1902. Your ride will take you to the top of East Hill Cliff and some great views over Hastings and out to sea. For a more gentle ride, head to the seafront where you'll find unsophisticated carousels which offer fun if not thrilling rides. There's more family entertainment at the Stade with Underwater World and the Smugglers' Adventure. If your prefer the natural world, you'll find it all at Hastings Country Park. A conservation area of Archaeological and Scientific Interest it lies within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Beauty. Your walk will be rewarded with superb views from the cliff tops.

Hastings Smuggling Past
Fighting for territory at home and abroad was a costly business for kings and the bill was paid through levying extortionate taxes on goods entering the country. High prices for commodities such as paper, sugar, tobacco and spirits led the Hastings locals to venture into smuggling with gusto. Aided and abetted by all classes of the local population, the enterprise required a large work force. As a result, many fishermen supplemented their income by becoming 'tubmen'. For this dangerous enterprise, they were paid well to lug barrels of goods up the secret, steep cliff paths. Their efforts would often be thwarted by the army of Excise men who continually hunted for the illegal contraband. Penalties for those caught were harsh. Smugglers who were unable to bribe their way out of the situation were either imprisoned or sentenced to death. The greatest fear for the smugglers was the gibbet where men were hung in chains with their bodies left to rot in the vicinity of their comrades.

  1. Attractions
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Hastings : Sightseeing and Attractions

Hastings Castle
It has been conjectured that William the Conqueror was so certain of success in his campaign to reign England that he actually carried pre-fabricated forts made of wood aboard his ships. It is possible that one of these became the first Hastings Castle. .. more
Address: West Hill, Hastings, East Sussex

Smuggler's Adventure in the St. Clements Caves
Family fun, these underground caverns will reveal a secret Hastings as you explore its smuggling, bootlegging and gangland past. A themed experience with 75 life-size figures, you'll walk through a 44m tunnel once used by the real smugglers of Hastings history. Concealed in their underground safe haven, smugglers stored goods such as alcohol, tobacco, paper, silk, sugar and spices here. You'll visit the eerie, underground St. Clements Chapel. Be warned. The chapel is believed to be haunted. These caves also served as shelters in WWII air raids.
Admission: £6.20 Adults £4.20 Children
Address: Smuggler's Adventure, St. Clements Caves, West Hil, Hastings, East Sussex
Postcode: TN34 3DW Street Map
Contact: PH 0142 4422 964

The Swan Inn – A memorial Garden
A landmark in Hastings for centuries, The Swan Inn was open for business from 1523 to 1943. It was the scene of Assemblies, Balls, Banquets and all kinds of celebrations in the years when Hastings was a fashionable resort. It was also the Posting House for coaches from London, Dover and Brighton. The advent of the railway led the Inn to reinvent itself as public house in the 19th century. The long and glorious past of the inn came to end with a low-flying bomber in May, 1943. The Swan Inn was completely destroyed and many lives were lost. A memorial garden now commemorates those who died here.

Underwater World
Also located within the Stade, Underwater World brings the sea to life for those who are unable or unwilling to dive. Through the 15m glass tunnel, you'll see an array of sea life with seahorses, jellyfish, sharks, cuttlefish, sting rays, starfish and molluscs. The recreation of a reef environment allows you to take a look at algae, anemones and sponges. You'll find a pay and display car park next door to the Underwater World.
Admission: £6.20 Adults £4.20 Children
Address: Underwater World, Rockanore Rd, Hastings, East Sussex
Postcode: TN34 3DW Street Map
Contact: PH 01424 718776

The Stade
The Stade meaning 'landing place' was given its name during the Battle of Hastings. For over 1000 years, this has been the starting point for fishermen. Lacking a natural harbour, various attempts over the centuries to build a man-made harbour have all resulted in varying degrees of failure. The result is that Hastings now holds the largest fleet of beach-launched fishing boats. It is due to this that the boats you see here are no more than ten metres long. As such, these boats only travel a few miles out to sea with little fishing gear on board. An excellent piece of luck for the local eco-system! Another interesting feature of the Stade are the historic 'net shops'. Unique to Hastings and Whitby, these are tall, wooden buildings whose unusual construction was brought about to avoid paying the land tax. The huts are used as dry storage space with the nets themselves being dried on the beach. Other places to visit in the Stade are the Fishermen's Museum, the Shipwreck Heritage centre, the Smugglers' Adventure, Underwater World and the Hastings Lifeboat Station.

Hastings Fishermen's Museum
Housed in the Old Fishermen's Church (1852), this museum is clearly a work of love. The Fishermen's Museum was created by locals who felt the need to preserve Hastings' maritime history. Rather than dismantle the Enterprise , one of the last luggers (sailing fishing boat), they knocked down a wall of the museum and pulled the old lugger in. It's a tight squeeze. The rest of the space is taken up with maritime artefacts, from fishing nets to models and photos. A real delight.
Admission: Free entry
Address: Hastings Fishermen's Museum, Hastings, East Sussex
Postcode: TN34 3DW Street Map
Contact: PH 0142 4461 446

Shipwreck Heritage Centre
Located within the Stade, this centre houses a medieval barge, a Victorian barge, a collection of rudders from the 15th to the 18th centuries and a selection of artefacts recovered from various wrecks. Visitors can witness live radar footage of shipping within the English Channel or get an update on the weather from live satellite images. Alternatively, you can watch videos of wrecks such as that of the Dutch East Indiaman Amsterdam of 1749.
Admission: £1.95 Adults £1.25 Children
Address: The Nautical Heritage Association, Shipwreck Herit, Hastings, East Sussex
Postcode: TN34 3DW Street Map
Contact: PH 01424 437452

Old Town Hall Museum
Open since 1949, the Old Town Hall Museum features changing historical exhibitions. On permanent display, you'll find exhibits which will take you into the past of the Old Town. The historical tour will take you through the turbulence of the Medieval Age, the history of the Cinque Ports, Hastings as a Victorian resort and Napoleonic garrison and the 1930's clearances.
Admission: Free entry
Address: High Street, Hastings, East Sussex
Postcode: TN34 1EW Street Map
Contact: PH 01424 781166

Hastings Country Park
Spanning an area of 660 acres, this country park lies within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Beauty. A nature reserve, it has been designated as a Special Area of Conservation, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and an Area of Archaeological Interest. There's something for everyone to enjoy here. Lying within the boundaries of Hastings Country Park, you'll find ancient wood, heath and grassland, some 5kms of beautiful coastline with sheer cliffs and an ancient Iron Age Promontory Fort at East Hill. Well-marked paths run through the park. For more information visit the Hastings Tourist Information Centre.
Admission: Free entry

Info CentreHastings Tourist Information Centre
A good place to begin your tour, the Hastings Tourist Information centre is conveniently located in the heart of town's shopping centre.
Address: Queens Square, Priory Meadow, Hastings, East Sussex
Postcode: TN34 1TL Street Map
Contact: PH 0142 4781 111

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