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St Clements Church

Folklore of the Old Town

There are two cannonballs on either side of the belfry window of St Clement's Church.  Only the one on the right is genuine.  It is said to have been fired into the tower by French or Dutch raiders.  After the event the inhabitants of the Old Town placed a replica the other side to balance things up!

The picturesque Stag Inn in All Saints' Street dates back to Tudor times and boasts the unusual display of two mummified cats which hang in the bar. They were discovered in one of the chimneys while renovation work was being carried out. Many years ago, ancient Spanish gold coins were found behind an old fireplace in the pub. They were left by the notorious ‘Chop Backers’  The cats were found by Bernard Edwards in 1943 when he was bricking up a fireplace on the first floor. The coins were discovered in 1902 when a second door was installed at the front of the building. The coins had been hidden under the floorboards in the room above. There is no evidence they were left by smugglers, or otherwise, or that they were gold. The Hastings fishermen/pirates received their nickname of “chopbacks” after killing a Dutch sea captain off Beachy Head. They used an axe to do the deed.

The Old Town of Hastings has a connection with the infamous Titus Oates, who lived in the town for a while.  His father, Samuel, was rector of All Saints' Church and Titus appointed himself as his father's curate.  A shady, unsavoury character, he later became involved in the fictitious Papist Plot in 1678, which fanned up religious hatred against the Catholics and resulted in the deaths of many innocents during the reign of Charles II.  Oates was eventually exposed as a liar and severely punished.  He is said to have lived close to Torfield House, which stands opposite All Saints' Church.

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