History of Hastings & East Sussex
Exploring the region of 1066 Country can often lead to an unexpected journey into the past. Battle Abbey tells the story of the invasion and of the many dark and difficult days that followed its construction.
Parts of the abbey, including the Great Gatehouse were built or customised to enable the abbots to defend the coast from French raids during the 14th century.
After sixty years of assaults from violent Saxon invaders, the Roman fort of Anderida was weary with war but its ordeal had only just begun. A few centuries later another invader, William of Normandy, landed nearby and turned it into Pevensey Castle by building upon the old Roman walls.
The remains of the first castle to be built in England after William's invasion, Hastings Castle, can be seen on the town's West Hill. Its famous 'whispering dungeon' is still intact and there's a special audio-visual display 'the 1066 Story' which captures the bloody thrills of the invasion that led to the creation of the castle.
Nearby Bodiam Castle lies next to the River Rother and was built in the late 14th century by a veteran of King Edward III's wars with France. Just as the scars of Battle Abbey and Pevensey Castle betray their roles in many different conflicts, so the perfectly preserved walls of Bodiam reveal its relatively untroubled existence.
The similarly moated Herstmoncuex Castle has also enjoyed a quiet life. Built in the 15th century, it embodies the gentler side of medieval history and the romance of renaissance Europe.
Jungle Book author Rudyard Kipling is closely associated with Batemans. This is where he wrote the ‘Just So’ stories. Lamb House in Rye was the home of American author Henry James from 1898 until 1916 during which time he wrote ‘Wings of the Dove’.
Following his death, author EF Benson took the house over and wrote the ‘Mapp and Lucia’ novels, taking inspiration from his surroundings.
The streets of Hastings and 1066 Country bear the bruises of a history far more recent than 1066. From Hastings Old Town's moving remembrance garden where the Swan Inn once stood (and several people were killed by a stray German bomb) to the various pill boxes and fortifications along the Camber and Rye coast, the landscape is littered with war artefacts.
This 17thC Sussex Ironmaster's house, built in a Wealden valley, was the home of writer Rudyard Kipling from 1902 to 1936. Rooms used by Kipling can...