Fishing has always been part of the Hastings' history and it was also a lively trading port around the time of the Norman Conquest. But when the Great Storm hit southern England in 1287 the cliff collapsed, taking half a castle down with it into the harbour. The town was then forced to move eastward and the original port still lies beneath the modern town.
Hastings might be described as three towns in one, linked by a promenade, with the Old Town to the east, the bustling town centre with lots of great shops in the middle, and St Leonard's to the west. There is the elegant architecture of James Burton to admire, and the lovely antique shops and vintage galleries on trendy Norman Road have led to it being called Portobello-Road-on-Sea.
The seafaring history of Hastings is brought to life in the Shipwreck Museum and the Fishermen's Museum. The fish market sells seafood caught by sustainable methods, which is also available to sample at in the many great seafood cafes and restaurants.
Above the pretty shingle and sand beach at Pelham you can uncover the smuggling history of Hastings in St Clements Caves. Afterwards, take the East Hill Lift - Britain's steepest funicular railway - to Hastings Country Park where there are hundreds of acres of beautiful ancient woodland, parkland and heath, stretching across the rugged cliffs.
Hastings is surrounded by an embarrassment of riches on the castle front, with Pevensey Castle, Hastings Castle, Bodiam Castle and Herstmonceux Castle, and Battle Abbey cannot be left out - the venue for the Battle of Hastings.