near Hastings, East Sussex, England
Hastings Castle is located cliff edge over looking the English Channel in the town of Hastings, 66 miles south of London
Today’s ruins date back to the 1070’s and are only half of the original structure. The site mainly consists of the church of St Mary in the Castle, parts of a surrounding wall and tower built of light coloured stone.
The castle is open to visitors daily between April and October 10am until 5pm and weekends in April. As well as exploring the castle ruins visitors can watch an audio visual presentation entitled ‘The 1066 Story’ which not only tells of the conquest but also the history of the castle through the ages.
On arrival in England in 1066 William of Normandy ordered several fortifications to be built, one of those being Hastings Castle. Originally built near the shore as a motte and bailey castle it was rebuilt in stone in1070.
At the end of the Battle of Hastings the castle was left with one of William’s commanders who handed both the castle and the town of Hastings to Robert, Count of Eu, he was responsible for founding the Church of St Mary in the Castle within the castle walls. The castle then went through many periods of being dismantled and then being rebuilt again by Henry II, III and Edward II, all fearing invasion from the French.
In 1287 the area was battered by high winds and terrific storms over many months, the sandstone cliffs were badly eroded causing sections of the castle to fall into the sea. Over the following centuries the castle continued to decay and much more fell into the sea below, it was sold and the site used for farming before being left abandoned.
The castle suffered its final attack during bombing raids in the Second World War when the area was mistaken for London. Finally in 1951 the site was purchased by the Hastings Corporation who converted the ruins into a tourist attraction.
There are numerous ‘ghost’ stories in relation to the castle amongst them a lady in a shimmering white gown, thought to be a lady of distinction who attended tournaments at the castle and Thomas a Beckett, thought to have been the church’s Dean.
Other Castles in the Area
Bodiam Castle, East Sussex
Camber Castle, East Sussex
Herstmonceux Castle, East Sussex
Pevensey Castle, East Sussex
Scotney Castle, Kent