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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.”

‘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)


The Battle of Hastings may be the most famous date in British history, but a lot has happened in the 950 years since. To mark the anniversary and as part of the ROOT1066 Festival of Contemporary Arts, Hastings Museum & Art Gallery will be opening a new, permanent display of its local history collections, from 1066 up to the present day.

Cllr Dawn Poole the council’s lead member for culture explained:

“The idea for the exhibition was to take 66 Objects that represent key stories that portray some of the people, some of the places and some of the events, both national and local; those that have really shaped the town of Hastings.

“950 years is a long time with a lot of history to cover and 66 objects is actually a lot of objects to look at! In the new exhibition we’ve included some objects and some events that have national significance such as the Spanish Armada and the first and second world wars but we’ve also included events that are very particular to Hastings

“As far as possible we have tried to put people at the centre of the story from local characters like the 11th century moneyer Dunninc and medieval Godfrey the Scrivener, to those who have had an international impact, like Robert Tressell and John Logie Baird.

All sorts of objects have been selected, from everyday items to coronation costume. Cllr Poole is putting in the third object in its case.  It’s a wine jug that dates from around 1100, which was excavated at Hastings Castle.  The base has signs of blackening, showing that the wine was probably heated over an open fire.  Wine became increasingly popular after the Norman Conquest and the Domesday Book records many newly-planted vineyards for the Norman rulers.

The new display will be open from Saturday 25 June at Hastings Museum and Art Gallery.

Museum opening times: April to October – Tuesday to Saturday 10am-5pm. Sunday 12 noon-5pm.  Entry is free.

Once again Hastings is in the press this week with another article from the Independent.

Hastings Old Town has been described at the cool place of the day, with The Stade, the Jerwood Gallery, the Castle and of course the brand new pier.

Check out the full article here


George Street

It’s Friday again and for this weeks Fun Fact Friday we have taken a look at some of the historical places to visit in the local area.

Hastings Castle

Hastings Castle is a huge part of England’s history as it was the first Norman Motte and Bailey castle to be built here.  It is situated on the West Hill.

When William the Conqueror landed in England he ordered Hastings Castle to be built, this was shortly before the battle that changed the course of English history, the Battle of Hastings where William defeated King Harold II.

The castle was left in ruins when King Henry VIII commissioned the castles church to be destroyed leaving the site in ruins.

Battle Abbey

The Abbey takes its name from the town and was founded to commemorate the bloody battle that saw William the Conqueror assume control of England in 1066.

The site of the Battle of Hastings is one of the least altered of medieval battlefields. In 1066 this part of Sussex was little populated, and the battle was fought on open land immediately south of the dense Wealden forest.

The buildings of the former abbey stand as a near-contemporary memorial to the Battle of Hastings. Although little remains of the original Norman abbey, many later monastic buildings survive, including the great gatehouse and the east range, with its fine vaulted undercroft.

Bodiam Castle

Bodiam Castle is situated beside the River Rother in East Sussex and was built in the late 14th century by a veteran of King Edward III’s wars with France originally as a coastal defence. In 1385, Sir Edward Dalyngrygge was given permission to fortify his house against invasion from France, but then decided to build a new stone castle a short distance away from the house.

Bodiam Castle has no keep, having its various chambers built around the outer defensive walls and inner courts. Its corners and entrance are marked by towers, and topped by crenellations. Its structure, details and situation in an artificial watery landscape indicate that display was an important aspect of the castle’s design as well as defence.

Bexhill Museum

The museum was started in 1914 by enthusiasts specialising in natural history, archaeology and ethnography and offers an incredible insight into town history, its famous residents and visitors and historic milestones that have made Bexhill internationally famous.

Bexhill Museum re-opened in 2009 after a £2m+ refurbishment. New galleries cover Bexhill’s motoring heritage plus costume and social history. Original features are retained in the Sargent Gallery.

Hastings Smugglers

St. Clements Caves are located on the West Hill. The caves were named after a nearby parish church. In the 17th Century, a couple lived in the caves after being discharged from the town’s workhouse for repeated misbehaviour.

in the 1820s, the caves were rediscovered by a local grocer named Joseph Golding. He was cutting a garden seat into the side of the cliff when he broke through to the vast cavern. They became a tourist attraction in 1864 and were visited by the Prince and Princess of Wales. In 1873 the caves received another royal visit from Prince Albert and Prince George Frederick.

In 1940 the caves became an air raid shelter and a temporary home for up to 600 people. Even once when the West Hill received a direct hit from a bomb, the caves remained undamaged. On 25 March 1989 St Clements Caves re-opened as the Smugglers Adventure.

Fisherman’s museum

Hastings Fishermen’s Museum is a museum dedicated to the fishing industry and maritime history of Hastings. It is housed in a former church, officially known as St Nicholas’ Church and locally as The Fishermen’s Church, which served the town’s fishing community for nearly 100 years from 1854.

After wartime damage, occupation by the military and subsequent disuse, the building was leased from the local council by a preservation society, which modified it and established a museum in it. It opened in 1956.