Hastings is a very cosmopolitan town. It has ancient connections and modern attractions. Hastings is a harbour town with strong connections to the sea, and is home to the biggest beach launched fleet of fishing vessels in the whole of Europe. Hastings was the site of the building of the very first castle built under the orders of William the Conqueror, although there is little of the castle remaining. The old town itself is still very much the heart of the modern Hastings and there is a strong cultural and arts vibe in the community here amid the narrow streets. It is also home to the very best in modern art too with the Jerwood Gallery devoted to exhibiting the very best of modern (20th and 21st Century) British art. Hastings is very much a family town, with adventures to be had on the shingle beaches and at the Smugglers Adventure at the St Clements Caves, but it is also a great place to relax and watch the world go by from one of the seafront bars and cafes. Whatever you are looking for, Hastings is sure to have it.
Hastings was a thriving fishing town; even at the time of the Norman Conquest, it was a bustling centre of trade. The original port which brought the town much of its wealth is now located deep beneath the town centre. The south coast of England was battered by the Great Storm in 1287, as a result the cliff and part of the castle that was perched upon it collapsed into the sea, causing irreparable damage to the harbour area. As a result of all of the damage the town shifted a little eastwards. Hastings was at one time part of the system that made England such a prominent maritime power. It was a Cinque Port and during the 16th Century provided manpower and ships for the fleet, one of many along the south coast, all provided in return for payment in the form of special privileges.
Hastings is often regarded as being three towns joined together by a promenade. There is the old town off to the east, the modern and contemporary new town centre in the centre position and then the very fashionable area of St Leonards off to the west, home to the antiques stores and galleries that befit its classical appearance. There are still plenty of half timbered houses to be seen in the old town, and plenty of narrow streets and ancient passageways to be explored. There are two museums which illustrate the connection the town has with the sea, one being the Fishermen’s Museum and the other the Shipwreck Museum which provides information on the many famous ships that have been sunk in local waters. Evidence can still be seen of the smuggling heritage of the town, in the caves that line the beach and the rugged cliffs. Hastings Country Park offers a wide expanse of woodland, heathland and coastal grassland across the cliff tops.