Driving Hastings forward 01424 205481

Hastings Borough Council is looking for expressions of interest for an operator to develop and manage Hastings Castle.

Cllr Kim Forward, deputy leader of Hastings Borough Council, and lead member for tourism explained :- “Hastings Castle is one of the only direct links we have with the Norman invasion. It was the first Norman castle to be built in England, and is featured on the Bayeux Tapestry.

“But it does need more investment to provide an even better visitor experience there. Unfortunately our Heritage Lottery Fund bids to improve the castle weren’t successful, and we don’t have the resources ourselves to invest in it.

“So we are inviting expressions of interest from prospective operators a longer lease on the castle, the terms of which would include significant investment to improve access to the castle, and the visitor experience there. We are working with experts ‘GVA’ who will help us manage the process, and make the castle the ‘must see’ visitor attraction it deserves to be.”

Rye Station is holding a small yet nostalgic exhibition of train and station memorabilia from the 20th February until 2nd April 2017

Local resident Stuart Searle has loaned the exhibits to provoke memories for travellers along the Marshlink line.

Kevin Barry, the Community Rail Development Officer for the Marshlink line said :- “ Stuart has been collecting train and station memorabilia for many years, he used to be work along the Marshlink line and is very knowledgeable of its history. The hardest part of organizing this exhibition was not what to put on display but what to leave out! With much more available it means we can hold these exhibitions on a regular basis.”

Kevin Boorman, the chair of the Marshlink community rail partnership, added :- “Rye is a lovely, traditional station, and Stuart’s memorabilia is just perfect here, and very nostalgic. We’re very grateful to Stuart for lending us some of his collection, and to Kevin Barry for the work he has done to put this fantastic exhibition on.

“At 1200 on Monday 20th February, the Mayor of Rye will officially open the display and we are hoping Stuart will be able to attend, and talk about his collection.”


The little Hastings Lifeboat that carved her way into the history books in 1940 is still making a splash!

Originally named The Cyril and Lilian Bishop Lifeboat, she first arrived in Hastings, April 1931. State-of-the-art, she was the first with an engine and radio communication!

In 1940 she was sent with the other hundreds of little ships to Dunkirk. Back and forth she went, constantly under fire, saving an average of 850 British and French soldiers per day!

A group of about 5 soldiers, almost giving up from exhaustion having swum out to sea from the hell-fire of the Dunkirk beach, thought they were hallucinating when she came out of the mist and smoke like a ghost and picked them up. On arrival on British soil they named her The Ghost of Dunkirk.The Ghost of Dunkirk

She dissapeared into obscurity until 2015 when Hastings born Dee Day White who’s many relatives had served on her, received a call she was in France! He, and his friend Tush Hamilton got her back to her home in Hastings.

She now needs love and attention to restore back to her former glory….and of course a few thousand pounds.

Mike Raxworthy, a local musician and designer decided to help raise some cash, loved the story, so had a song written about her. Having got the song recorded, he thought he’d make a film about her with the song as a sound track, and subsequently put a concert around that film.

He pulled together a group of guys to help out, local band Jiggery Pokery and film maker Shaun Taberer, and local events guy Gary Fellows.

Over the past two months they’ve been filming, editing, booking bands and shanty choirs to join them – the result, a wonderful tribute to a famous old Hastings Lifeboat and the brave guys that served on her.

They will be showing the film and presenting The RX Shanty Men, acapella band Now and Then, 30 strong choir Harmony One, Jiggery Pokery and award-winning folk-rock shanty band The Salts,

all giving their time and talent ‘to help that old tub, dubbed the Ghost of Dunkirk’.

The concert is at St Mary in the Castle, Hastings Seafront on Friday 20th January at 7pm.

Tickets in advance are £8.50 at The Hastings Tourist Information Office or £10 on the door.

For further information or a clip of the short film please contact: Mike Raxworthy: 07770 878616

or email: mike@intergrafix.co.uk


A pop-up exhibition the Union of Shop Distributive and Allied Workers ‘Usdaw: 125 Years Strong’ will open to the public from 1 to 30 November 2016 at Hastings Museum & Art Gallery.

The exhibition reviews Usdaw’s social history and showcases campaigns then and now in the areas of safer workplaces, better conditions, improved pay and fairness at work. The exhibition offers a fascinating insight into the rights of shop workers through the years.

“One hundred and twenty five years ago, representatives of workers met in Manchester and Birmingham to establish the trade unions which would, in 1947, amalgamate to become the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers” said Cllr Dawn Poole the council’s lead member for leisure. “We are really pleased to be hosting this exhibition as part its tour during 2016 especially with Hastings’ history of early socialism and the Robert Tressell connections with the town”.

The exhibition opens at Hastings Museum and Art Gallery on 01 November with FREE entrance.

More information of events at Hastings Museum can be found from their website www.hmag.org.uk


Hastings mayor Cllr Judy Rogers has ‘struck’ her own commemorative Battle of Hastings 50p coin on a visit to the Royal Mint to see the special coins being made.

Cllr Rogers was invited to the Royal Mint with Cllr David Furness, mayor of Battle, and they made the trip to Llantrisant, in the Welsh valleys on Monday (10th October). They were met by Adam Lawrence, the Royal Mint’s chief executive, and given a tour of the site, including a visit to the Royal Mint’s museum.

Cllr Rogers said :- “It was a fantastic day out, and I was honoured and privileged to be able to ‘strike’ my own Battle of Hastings commemorative 50p.

“It was fascinating to see other coins being struck too, including the new twelve-sided £1 coin which goes into circulation next year, and the Royal Mint museum. This included coins going back over 1000 years, including coins that were used in the time of both Harold and William.

“The special commemorative 50p coins can be bought from the tourist information centre at Breeds Place, Hastings, and they will also be on sale at the 1066 Country stand at the Battle re-enactment over the weekend.”


With the ROOT 1066 International Festival now in full swing, here’s your guide to what’s happening over the coming week.

Edith – a pilgrimage and film
Saturday 17 & Sunday 18 September

This weekend, see King Harold reunited with his common-law wife Edith, whose weathered statue mourns him still in Grosvenor Gardens, St Leonards. Film maker Andrew Kötting and author Iain Sinclair walked a 100-mile pilgrimage from Waltham Abbey to St Leonards, via Battle Abbey where Harold fell, symbolically reconnecting the lovers after 950 years of separation.

You can see the film, with a special live performance, on Saturday 17 September, 8pm at Kino Teatr, £10. Or, visit Grosvenor gardens on Sunday 18 September to see your own personal 5-minute version, as the Flat Pack Castle becomes a two-seater cinema for the day. 11am to 4pm, free.

Artist talks – John Cole and Hew Lock
Saturday 17 September

Also this weekend, there are two artist talks. John Cole, the photographer behind the portraits currently hanging among the net huts, will be in conversation with the Fishermen’s Protection Society on Saturday 17 September at 2pm at the Stade Hall. Entrance is free but space is limited.

Meanwhile, Hew Lock will be discussing his 2011 work, For Those in Peril on the Sea – which inspired the exhibition that will be on display at Electro Studios Project Space on 1 and 2 October. The talk will take place on Saturday 17 September at 2pm at Hastings Museum & Art Gallery. Tickets cost £5.

Feast of the Dead – a medieval banquet
Wednesday 21 to Sunday 25 September

If that’s tickled your appetite, how about a medieval feast to see you through the week? Every evening from Wednesday 21 to Sunday 25, the Stade Hall will be playing host to Feast of the Dead. Part banquet, part theatre, participants will be served an authentic 11th century three-course meal, while interacting with the ghosts of the battlefield. Tickets cost £25/£18, or £15 for the Wednesday preview, and vegetarian and vegan options are available. Book at: http://bit.ly/2cWPSHf.

Clash! – a choral spectacle
Saturday 24 September

Next weekend, don’t miss Clash!, a unique musical event involving seven local choirs, who will converge in the cathedral-like atrium of Sussex Coast College. Poets and spoken word artists have collaborated with composers from across the South East to create a musical ‘tapestry’ in response to the Bayeux Tapestry’s narration of the great Battle of 1066. Performances take place at 4.30pm and 7.30pm on Saturday 24 September. Tickets cost £7/£5 – go to barefootopera.com/tickets/clash-24th-sept.

Buoys Boys – new exhibition opens at the De La Warr
Opens Saturday 24 September

Leading British artist Fiona Banner presents an immersive installation exploring her ongoing interest in language and its limitations. The exhibition, which takes place both inside and outside of the De La Warr Pavilion, incorporates a series of inflatable full stops from different fonts blown up to human scale. The exhibition is open from Saturday 24 September to Sunday 8 January and entry is free.  There will be an artist’s talk at 11am on Saturday 24 September – tickets are £7/£5/£3.50 from dlwp.com.

DRIFT – how do you navigate a place?
Guided walk Saturday 24 September

This inclusive artwork that reveals how young people with complex needs experience the world in different ways. From now until Sunday 16 October, you can find sound and video installations at three different locations around the town – Warrior Square station ticket office, Bottle Alley, and in the East Hill Lift top station. Join participants for a free guided walk on Saturday 24 September – meet at Warrior Square Station at 11am.–

For more information on these events and many more, visit 1066contemporary.com.

ROOT 1066 International Festival has been funded by Hastings Borough Council, Arts Council England and the Coastal Communities Fund. For the latest news, follow @ROOT1066 on Twitter, or like facebook.com/ROOT1066.

Surely one of the most immersive, and indeed tasty, events that form part of Hastings’ ROOT1066 International Festival will be Feast of the Dead.

In order to commemorate “the most cataclysmic moment of our history” – the Battle of Hastings – local artists Den and Signals have teamed up with innovative chefs Blanch and Shock to take participants on “an anarchic ride through the aftermath of a battle which still affects our daily lives.”

Den and Signals’ Ben Pacey says: “Expect an entertaining communal experience about the past, the present and the future. We’ll serve a delicious and unique meal, inspired by eleventh century food, sourced from local suppliers and created by Blanch and Shock.”

He adds: “The inspiration for Feast of the Dead came from conversations with people who strongly felt that the events of 1066 still vividly resonate today. The idea for the event is that we – both performers and audience – are ghosts of the Battle of Hastings. On the night after the battle, we meet and eat together as ghosts. “A further influence came from our town’s enthusiasm for dressing up! We’re inviting our audiences to attend dressed as ghosts of the 1066 battlefield. Of course, we’ll extend just-as-warm-a-welcome to anyone who doesn’t want to dress-up, too.”

Creating a medieval menu, however, is a lot easier said than done, as Blanch and Shock’s Mike Knowlden reveals: “The Normans and Anglo-Saxons had few recorded recipes. What to put into and how to cook particular dishes were handed down the generations using the oral tradition, so a recipe book that we would go to as a resource today simply didn’t exist. Consequently, we’ve done a fair bit of research into the ingredients that were available and the cooking processes people used during the Middle Ages.”

Remarkably, Mike suggests that many of the dishes and ingredients that are popular today would be familiar nearly a thousand years ago. “What we think of as a modern British or Scandinavian diet leads back to that time” he says.

The Normans were descended from Vikings and Britain was frequently raided and settled by Norse raiders during the Dark Ages. However, in the popular imagination the Normans were French and therefore brought an entirely new and alien culture to these shores with their victory over the Saxons. Mike thinks that, apart from the different languages, the two nations were already more closely united through their stomachs.

“After the invasion, our diet didn’t change that much. Admittedly, the poor would have become poorer under Norman feudalism and there wasn’t a sudden bounty of new ingredients imported from France, apart from the renewed emphasis on eating rabbit.”

Rabbits were considered rare and expensive, bred and kept in special warrens and were generally available only to the wealthy. Similarly, pears and fallow deer were brought over, essentially for the conquerors to enjoy. However, the Norman diet of oats, green vegetables, dairy produce and small amounts of meat, mainly pork, was similar to that of the vanquished Saxons.

And beer would have been familiar to both sides. Ale was an extremely important part of daily life, as water was often dirty and therefore dangerous. The brewing process killed off waterbound germs and different types of ale were brewed. ‘Small beer’ was drunk at breakfast and had a relatively low alcohol content. Extra flavour and sweetness was given by adding honey, which created mead. The abundance of apples in Normandy and among the English orchards meant that a form of cider was also a popular tipple.

Although the Normans appear to have had a utilitarian view of food, they still enjoyed it, as Mike explains: “Both nations probably regarded what they ate as little more than fuel for the body. For the poor, life was a daily battle for calories but food played an important role in bringing people together.”

Feast of the Dead, will be held at Stade Hall at 7pm on Weds 21 to Sun 25 September. For it, Mike and his Blanch and Shock colleagues are devising an authentic, three-course menu that the Normans and Anglo-Saxons would be familiar with.

“The first course will incorporate fish brought in by the day boats at Hastings and put into a broth infused with wild herbs and flowers. That will be followed by a sharing dish of pork. Although I haven’t completely decided just yet, it will probably be belly rolled with wild herbs, spices and grains. Bread will also feature but will be made from ingredients such as pea flour, to make things more interesting for our guests. Dessert will, I’m sure, involve honey and apples with custard and egg-based puddings also. Bread and Butter Pudding as we know it today isn’t wildly different to the version they ate then.”

Just as people would have done 950 years ago, Mike and his team are focusing on locally available, seasonal produce. As part of his research for Feast of the Dead, he says that they have become excited about working with wild mushrooms, herbs and spices foraged from local fields and hedgerows and perfecting ancient cooking techniques, such as using hot stones, open fires and Dutch ovens. There will also be vegetarian and vegan options available.

“It is a wonderful way to explore history and our early culture. The Romans’ vast empire meant that they had food security and enormous variety in their diet whilst, in stark contrast, the Normans and Saxons were limited to what was available around them and largely on a subsistence basis. Yet they were very creative and experimental with flavours, while also exploring the aesthetics of food. Something we do today and will bring to the table, figuratively and literally, at Feast of the Dead.”

You can download a full festival programme now at www.1066contemporary.com


With the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings coming up fast, the ROOT 1066 International Festival is getting under way. September kicks off with 10 cracking new exhibitions across 1066 Country – in Hastings, St Leonards, Pevensey, Robertsbridge and Rye.

“There’s so much happening in and around Hastings at the moment, it’s wonderful to see the energy building as we approach the 950th anniversary,” said Cllr Peter Chowney, leader of Hastings Borough Council. “These exciting exhibitions give us an insight into how our history informs our modern-day life and identity.”

  • I Am A Norman
    This outdoor photography exhibition explores ‘living history’ by depicting Hastings residents with Norman-derived surnames. Photographs will be on display at the Queens Road bus shelters and Hastings Station from 1 September to 2 October.
  • We work in the dark
    In a poignant year for unions remembered and ruptured, this free exhibition from the New Road Artists is inspired by Henry James’ The Europeans. The work will be exhibited at Rye Creative Centre from 3 September to 2 October. Free.
  • Fishermen of Quiberville
  • John Cole has been in Normandy, capturing French fishermen (with a camera). From 3 September to 16 October their portraits will be hung around Rock a Nore, alongside their Hastings-based counterparts.
  • Coastal Currents Open Studios
    Hastings’ annual arts festival is back with ROOT 1066-tinted spectacles. The ever-popular programme allows free access to a range of local artists and the way they work. Open studios will run over two weekends: 3-4 and 10-11 September.
  • Another Crossing
    Bern O’Donoghue and Giovanna Del Sarto explore hazardous journeys and dangerous crossings, along with some of the issues and myths surrounding migration in 2016. Murmurations Gallery, 3 September and 2 October, free.
  • Harold’s Grave
    Much has been made about King Harold’s death – including this installation by international artist Alice Schÿler Mallet. Mallet’s golden-stone structure will open at Pevensey castle from 7 September to 1 October. See English Heritage for entry prices.
  • Edith Digital Pinholes
    Anonymous Bosch accompanied Andrew Kötting on a walk from Waltham Abbey to St Leonards for a new film about King Harold’s mistress, Edith Swan Neck. His pinhole camera photographs from the journey will be exhibited at the BlackShed Gallery, from 7 September to 1 October. Free.
  • A New Language
    Curated by Chris Winter, an international group of artists will exhibit their work at the Observer Building. Unique and challenging, the exhibition explores the culture shift initiated by 1066. From 10-25 September, free.
  • Drift
    Project Art Works work with people with complex needs, and this three-part sound and video installation invites you to experience your town from new perspectives. It will be on display from 10 September to 16 October in Warrior Square Station, Bottle Alley and the East Hill Lift.
  • Martin Honeysett 

A major exhibition of cartoons including historical works, a retrospective of artwork by Martin Honeysett and contemporary work produced by cartoonists and workshop participants on the theme of ‘when cultures collide’. Hastings Museum & Art Gallery, 15 September to January 2017, free.

ROOT 1066 International Festival has been funded by Hastings Borough Council, Arts Council England and the Coastal Communities Fund. For the latest news visit 1066contemporary.com, follow @ROOT1066 on Twitter, or like facebook.com/ROOT1066

‘Is it the place that affects the people? Or is it the people that affect the place?’ 

That’s the question internationally renowned theatre company WildWorks is going to be exploring in a 3-day show with a revolving cast of 50 local volunteers as part of the ROOT1066 International Festival. 

The Great Survey is inspired by the Domesday Book of 1086, which was entitled The Great Survey of the Wealth of England.  But where the first Great Survey focused on the country’s physical wealth in terms of land, livestock and other possessions, this one 930 years later will be focusing on the town of Hastings greatest riches: its people and communities.

WildWorks are renowned for their unique style of site-specific theatre. They discover the memories and values of people and place and create extraordinary emotional experiences from them. WildWorks’ 2011 production of The Passion in Port Talbot involved over 1,000 people in the creation of this work with an estimated 22,000 people attending over a three-day period. New York Times said “suspend all expectations of a traditional experience “of their Enchanted Palace.

The WildWorks team has already spent time in Hastings during June, meeting local people, gathering information and it is this that will form the basis of their performance.

Bill Mitchell, Artistic Director of WildWorks, says “For a week in June we came to Hastings and asked ‘what’s special about living here?’ Everyone we met talked with passion and we listened. We heard things like ‘Hastings is a town that makes things happen.’  ‘It’s separate from the rest of the world.’ It’s a very independent place.’ ‘People don’t talk about things here. They get on and do.’ At its heart is the sea and fishermen – fish connects every community, old or new, in the town. We met people who arrived here and fell in love with the town and by the end of the week the team had fallen in love with it as well.” 

Volunteers are now being sought locally, with rehearsals getting underway at the end of August. The actual performances will take place in the shadow of historic Hastings Castle – the first built after the Norman invasion – on 9-11 September.

Of course the exact content of the show will be determined by the workshops and rehearsal process about to get underway! But Bill has given this insight into what we might expect from the final performances “Come and meet The Surveyors; local ghosts who have been watching the horizon forever.  Work with the Blind Archaeologists as they dig up the past.  And, if you’re brave enough, explore the WildWorks Memory Projector; a device that finds memories buried deep in your DNA and projects them for all to see.”

All this will be taking place 9-11 September 2016, Ladies’ Parlour (next to Hastings Castle)


All the family can get involved in the critically acclaimed new Marcus Harvey exhibition at Hastings’ Jerwood Gallery this autumn, through six special ROOT1066 workshops.

Entitled Inselaffe, the exhibition (on until 16 October) is a series of tough, but humorous, sculptures and paintings that forge motifs and emblems relating to notions of Britishness and embroiled history such as militaria and joke shop knick-knacks into collaged portraits of historical figures; from Nelson to Margaret Thatcher, Napoleon to Tony Blair.  The resulting exhibition is unapologetic and powerful, political yet ambiguous, reflecting Harvey’s concerns with subjects such as national identity and masculinity. 

Jerwood Gallery director Liz Gilmore says “It’s an enormous privilege to be working with Marcus Harvey in this important year for Hastings – the 950 anniversary of 1066. The exhibition will combine some monumental new works alongside key historical pieces, showing Harvey’s significant contribution to British art.” 


Join Artist Educator Emily Hedley for a junk modelling extravaganza, celebrating the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings and the Inselaffe exhibition, and transform the studio walls into a 3D installation of Hastings town!  Use paint, collage and junk modelling to create a collaborative townscape, inspired by Marcus Harvey’s bas relief painting style, where 3D forms emerge from painted and photographic backdrops. This workshop is suitable for 4-11 yr olds and costs £1.50 per child.


Marcus Harvey’s work undoubtedly provokes a response, being rich in political, social and artistic references. Sarah will help to unpick some of these references, beginning with a short talk introducing the artist and examining some of the themes found in his work before moving into the galleries to analyse the pieces in more depth. You will have time to explore the exhibition on your own or in small groups and to gather your thoughts before coming back together to discuss selected works in more detail. This workshop is suitable for over 16s and costs £4 per person.


Harvey’s most recent work forges motifs and emblems of Britishness, such as military memorabilia and joke shop knick-knacks into collaged portraits of historical figures. His exhibition name ‘Inselaffe’ is derived from a tongue-in-cheek theory that evolution must have stalled in the UK, as British people behave in such a yobbish manner. You can create a collage portrait in either 2D or 3D in this workshop. The materials used will reflect what you know about the sitter. Your selected muse can be a yob or a well-known person (or both!), and they can be alive or deceased – but they must be from Hastings! This workshop is suitable for over 16s and costs £8 per person.


Following the success of his great grandfather’s prototype Random Story Generator, launched in 1872, Professor Andrew Willard brings the new and updated Generator to Jerwood Gallery for the very first time.  Expect to have your imagination stimulated, your mind expanded and your creativity invigorated by this wondrous and unpredictable machine and its operator! Discover skills you never knew you had and take part in producing exclusive, Inselaffe-inspired stories that will thrill and entertain for years to come. This workshop is suitable for under 10s and costs £1.50 per child.


Join us for An Evening with Marcus Harvey to hear the artist himself talk in detail about his largest UK solo public gallery exhibition to date and for an insight into his artistic practice. Tickets are £10 per person (£8 for Jerwood Gallery Members) and include a glass of wine.


Hermione will help you create large-scale art works of imaginary islands using collage, photographic prints and paint, inspired by the paintings in Inselaffe. Participants will invent caricatures and hybrid characters to inhabit these new worlds. The workshop will playfully explore the relationship between photography, painting and sculpture, what it means to be an island nation and the impact it has had on our identity and history. This event is suitable for 8-12 year olds and costs £1.50 per child.


Inspired by Marcus Harvey’s tough, but humorous, ceramic sculptures, create your own collaged composition using bas relief templates of typical British memorabilia, air drying clay and hand modelling techniques – taking a piece constructed from multiple elements home to dry and colour. Choose your own historic figure or even a family member to turn into a Harvey-esque portrait. This workshop is suitable for 6-12 year olds and costs £1.50 per child. 

Booking is essential for all these events as places are limited. To book, please call 01424 728377 during gallery opening hours (Tuesday to Sunday, 11am-5pm).