Hastings is a town with a great deal of history. It was here that William the Conqueror came ashore before his historic battle with King Harold in 1066, and where he set up his headquarters. Although the castle William built on West Hill has practically gone (the cliff has crumbled away over the centuries), there are plenty of other interesting things left to see in Hastings.
Once the head of The Cinque Ports, the harbour disappeared in the great storm of 1287, but despite this Hastings still supports the largest fleet of beach-launched fishing boats in Britain. They make a colourful sight drawn up on beach at the bottom of East Hill when not in use. In the 1850s there were 85 or so fishing boats registered here; now there are some 20 or 30 with the RX registration mark. Nearby, the 8-foot (2.4 metres) square, three storey high, wooden Tudor net lofts were once used to dry the 30 or 40-yard (27 or 37 metre) long herring and mackerel nets. Unique to Hastings they are no longer used, as modern materials dry almost instantly; they do however add to the charm of this old fishing village.
Although the port as well as many of the town's buildings are now under the sea (only 2 out of 7 medieval churches remain), a walk around the Old Town will reveal a large number of well preserved buildings from times gone by. Moving away from the sea and the fishing boats is All Saints' Street. The high pavements run in front
of a number of timber-framed buildings, although Pulpitt Gate on the corner of East Parade is not all that it may seem - it may be medieval in design but it was actually built in 1953. A bit further along is 'Shovells' which dates from around 1500 and is where the mother of Admiral Sir Cloudsley Shovell lived. Also found here are the Stag Inn, which is from about 1600, and All Saints' Church dating from around 1400.
Two fine houses from about 1750 can be found at the top of High Street. These are called 'Old Hastings House', the stables of which have been converted into a theatre, and 'Torfield'. On the way down High Street are the Old Courthouse from 1450 and St Clement's Church, which dates from 1380 and can be found at the end of Church Passage.
A number of other interesting buildings can be found here, many of which date from the Victorian era. These include the house of Dr Elizabeth Blackwell who was the world's first lady doctor, and the headquarters of Arthur Wellesley who went on to become the Duke of Wellington.
While the Old Town is a picturesque setting where time has stood still, with its numerous walks, passages and narrow streets, the new town is a hive of business and modern leisure activity. The seafront here is awash with amusement arcades, miniature railway and stalls that sell candyfloss. As well as the fine beaches and a promenade, no seaside town would be complete without a pier - the one in Hastings opened in 1872.