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Archive for November 27th, 2016

The 1066 story includes the Norman Castle built in Hastings by order of William, Duke of Normandy aka William the Conqueror after the Battle of Hastings….ironically fought at a place now called Battle and not at Hastings per se. So it was vitally important that we visited the castle. After our visit to the East Cliff, it was off on a jaunt across town to see the ruins of the marvellous Hastings Castle on the West Cliff. Heading more or less straight across town, I took her along a route I had used before, a pathway and steps that took us past the blue house and so to the top of the cliff. The architecture and houses along the way are a delight.

1066 country, a visit to hastings, seaside towns of britain

a walk through Hastings from the East Cliff to the West Cliff

We meandered past some marvellous places that set the juices flowing with house-envy and stopped often to admire the view. After a relatively easy walk we reached the top of the cliff and so to the castle.

1066 country, a visit to hastings, seaside towns of britain

the view from West Cliff across Hastings towards East Cliff – thats my sister on the ground 😉

Originally a wooden tower built on top of a man-made mound or motte surrounded by an outer courtyard or bailey, Hastings castle was typical of the Norman motte and baily castle that would become a common fixture across England following the conquest. Subsequent to his victory at the Battle of Hastings, and after being crowned on Christmas Day 1066, William issued orders that Hastings Castle was to be rebuilt in stone.

1066 country, william the conqueror and hastings castle

the 1066 story and William the Conqueror. Hastings

The ruins we see today are less than half of the original structure that remained after the savage storms of the 13th century when the harbour was destroyed and large parts of the castle fell into the sea. There is enough to leave you in awe of what there once was. It was a mighty fortress that saw the Kings and Queens of Britain visit on many occasions.

1066 country, hastings castle, a visit to hastings, seaside towns of britain

scenes of Hastings Castle. Much of the original castle fell away when the cliffs collapsed

The chapel is in a far better state of repair, so to speak and you can wander and wonder amongst the ruins. I love to just stand still and imagine the scenes of yesteryear with Kings and Queens arriving for once est or another…Knights, Priests, Lords, Ladies, Hand-Maidens, Servants and Serfs…..what a melee it must have been.

1066 country, hastings castle, a visit to hastings, seaside towns of britain

scenes of the ruined chapel at Hastings Castle; The Collegiate Church at St-Mary-in-the-Castle was built in about 1075

One of the things I love most is to run my hand over the stones and flint of these ancient places and try to imagine the person who placed it there….how did they live, where were they from, were they young or old, did they have family…..how long did they live. Because lets face it, I’m pretty certain the builders of these castles probably didn’t have the same privileges our builders of today have! I’d say they probably lived very poorly and were not very well treated by their masters and without doubt the Health and Safety elves hadn’t yet made an appearance!!

1066 country, hastings castle,

imagine the amount of work that went into this wall….

Hastings Castle is a fascinating part of British history that includes ‘The 1066 Story’. An exciting 20 minute audio-visual programme covering the Conquest and the history of the castle through the centuries can be seen on the premises. The short film is well worth watching as it gives you a better idea of how the castle looked before the cliffs gave way and it vanished never to be seen again…except perhaps in the houses that used the pebbles and stones to rebuild some of the more ‘modern’ places you see today.

There is a small underground dungeon you can visit…..nothing too fearsome – certainly not like some dungeons I have seen in the past, but interesting nevertheless to imagine the people who trod those stairs centuries ago.

1066 country, hastings castle,

the dungeon….my sister looking a tad trepidatious climbing down the stairs

Although not as impressive as Dover Castle just up the coast and in much better nick, I do enjoy exploring the walls and nooks and crannies of Hastings Castle. I also love the views across the channel. Imagine how awe-inspiring it must have looked to the sailors of yesteryear as they approached the English coastline…..did they come in peace, were they merchantmen intent on trade, or pilgrims seeking a passage to Canterbury, or were they soldiers who quaked in fear of the unknown daunted by the size of the castle,  or were they fearless warriors intent on mischief.

1066 country, hastings castle, english channel

view across the English Channel towards France

My sister and I meandered, and admired, took hundreds of photos and then before they locked us in for the night we took ourselves off back down to the town.

I love Hastings…it is so quirky with loads of history and amazing houses to photograph. Definitely well deserving of a 9+ for interesting ‘things to see’.

1066 country, hastings

Hastings – 1066 country with a history that dates back over 950 turbulent years

Then a quick stop for hot jacket potatoes filled with a yummy concotion at the Hot Potato in Queens Road and then into the car and back to Rye….what a great day. I know for sure I’ll visit Hastings again some day.

Along the way we stopped along the Pett Level Road to watch the sunset. Glorious!!

sunset at pett level road

watching the sunset from Pett Level Road between Winchelsea Beach and Pett Level

For more information on Hastings Castle and the 1066 story

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