History of Hastings Old Town
Until 1800, Hastings was confined to the Bourne Valley between the large unspoilt open areas of the East and West Hills.
Originally this town (Hastings Old Town) had just two main streets, High Street and All Saints' Street, which were divided by the Bourne Stream.
In the late 1300s, a defensive wall was erected across the southern part of the town with three gates at High Street, All Saints' Street and the Bourne.
Remnants of the wall can still be seen today.
As well as protecting the town from enemies, the wall served to resist the sea which once battered against it during southerly gales.
In the 14th century, during the Hundred Years' War, the Old Town was twice attacked by the French and in the second of these raids in 1377 much of the town was destroyed.
George Street, originally known as 'the Suburbs', was the first street to be built outside the town wall as it began its westward spread during the 18th century.
Many buildings within Hastings Old Town retain the original Georgian windows on their upper floors.
During the Georgian period, Hastings was a strategically important site as the country faced the threat of a French invasion led by Napoleon Bonaparte.
The town had a garrison of 12,000 soldiers who were commanded by the Duke of Wellington from his headquarters in High Street.
In Victorian times part of the Bourne Stream was covered and named Bourne Walk and in the 1960s the Old Town was split completely in two by the modern road.
It seems hard to believe that until then the main thoroughfare of Hastings Old Town had been the narrow High Street.
There were only two places along the street where large vehicles such as the electric trolley buses, which served the town until 1959, could pass.
With its ancient churches and buildings, unique fishing quarter, narrow streets (or 'twittens') and a profusion of atmospheric pubs, eating places, tea rooms, museums and antique shops, there's something truly untouched and timeless about Hastings Old Town.
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