The town of Hastings has a long maritime tradition. The original port stood partly on land that has now been eroded by the sea.
In 928 the town was of sufficient standing to have its own mint, and when, around 1050, Hastings was joined with Romney, Hythe, Dover and Sandwich in what became the privileged institution of the Cinque Ports, the town’s importance was firmly established.
It was the Cinque Ports’ task to supply the King with ships and crews for a certain number of days each year, their merchant vessels being converted to warships by adding castles at their ends. They defended the Sussex and Kent coastline from attack and to at one time Hastings supplied 20 of the 57 ships that made up the Cinque Ports’ navy, the main English navy until the 15th century.
Bulverhythe, at the west end of modern Hastings, was, in those days, an annexe port to Hastings and was responsible for contributing to the quota of ships. It was a self-contained community on a low hill where today the ruins of its medieval church can be found as a clue to its maritime past.
Hastings’s influence as a port received a severe setback when the storms of 1286 – 7 started to erode the port away and eventually the once great Cinque Port became nothing more than a small fishing town, nestling between the East and West Hills.
Many medieval houses survive in the Old Town behind its defensive wall built as a protection against the French probably in the 16th century. Traces of the 16th century Elizabethan harbour have been found to the west of the modern harbour, but that did not last long before it was broken up by the sea.
The most interesting surviving clues to the ancient port are its two lighthouses, the Upper and Lower lights, which, although dating from the 19th century, are still used to help fishing boats return to harbour at night. The strange thing is that the lights are still lined up to enter the Elizabethan harbour that ceased to exist about three centuries ago!
The tall weatherboarded and tarred sheds, locally called ‘net shops’, date from the 19th century. They were used to dry fishing nets, but modern net materials do not require them so they are only used now for storing fishing equipment.
New information panel for The warship Anne 1690.
The updated information panel installed this morning at Pett Level for the warship Anne 1690. Thanks to Historic England for commissioning this for the Museum, and to Ali James in particular. It looks great!
16th-Century Shipwrecks Found Amid Rocket Debris Off Florida Coast
Its relatively common to find debris from rocket launches in the waters off Cape Canaveral in Florida, but divers exploring the seabed recently uncovered artifacts from an age of exploration long before America’s space program: 22 cannons and a marble monument in what they think are three 16th-century Spanish shipwrecks. The finds include three ornate […]
Stirling Castle leather hats – launch of Citizen Science initiative
Stirling Castle leather hats – launch of Citizen Science initiative Angela Middleton and Serena Cant launched a Citizen Science appeal on Monday 1 August. Angela is analysing the leather hats from the wreck of the Stirling Castle from a conservation perspective, while Serena has been researching images from c1650 to c1750 in maritime and other […]
Heritage England News
Special Commendation for the Iona II Dive Trail We are delighted to announce that the Historic England funded dive trail on the protected wreck site of the Iona II has received a special judges commendation and runners up award from the Association of Heritage Interpretation. The dive trail was nominated in the Interpretation for a […]
Virtual tour of the Anne
The University of Birmingham’s virtual tour of the Anne. The Anne talk at the Beach Club, Pett Level. Professor Robert Stone giving his presentation and members of the public engaging with the 3D virtual tour.
This week is Old Town Carnival Week
This week is Old Town Carnival Week, don’t stay at home, come along & join in the fun! For the latest news, events & updates, follow one of these links: Old Town Carnival Week 1066.net/carnival Many attractions are free, but do welcome donations as it’s all in aid of various charities – many of them […]