Local finds: Hastings

Our latest Great Escape is brought to you by Jeska Hearne, Hastings resident, talented designer-maker, photographer and author of style blog Lobster & Swan. You can find Jeska’s beautiful handmade homewares, gifts and original photography in her etsy shop Lobster and Swan.

Where in Britain is it?

Hastings is located in East Sussex on the South coast of England.

Why should I go there?

Hastings is such a diverse town with a rich and varied community – there are lots of artists in residence and creative types.

A short walk from Hastings town centre is the Old Town, steeped in history with many stories to tell. There are museums to learn about local history, pirates, smugglers and the ancient but still thriving fishing village. Amongst the warren of streets there are boutiques, vintage and antique stores, restaurants, cute seaside cafes, great pubs, and some of the finest fish and chips for miles. The whole area is surrounded by nature reserves and country parks.

Head west for St Leonards on Sea and you’ll see more fabulous antique stores and new coffee shops, artist run boutiques and galleries. As you will see I am very passionate about my little town, there are so many hidden treasures, I often take time out and look at everything with new eyes.

Hastings Shops

Will I find interesting local products to buy?

Ceramics, toys, clothing, and homewares - all handmade and of a fantastic quality - can be bought from Made in Hastings, a store run by six local female artists. On the same street buy an exquisite hand tied bouquet to enjoy in your room for the duration of your stay from Shimizu flowers.

Made in Hastings

There are lots of galleries selling local artwork. Visit Pearl & Queenie and browse their collection of contemporary jewellery for something original. The Lilac Room stocks pretty clothes and accessories and just across the street is Odd selling a mixture of beautiful antique and new gifts and home accents. Next door new store Warp & Weft has a charming mixture of clothing and other articles for person and home.

Hastings Shops

Where can I eat locally sourced food?

First stop on an early morning is Judge’s Bakery for an organic treat, such as  pretty whipped meringues, delicious bread, rolls, cakes and organic groceries. Next you’ll need something to accompany that bread, so on to Penbuckle’s for locally sourced speciality cheeses, condiments, wine, beer and cider. There is a wealth of restaurants with of course great freshly caught fish on the menu. For the best lunchtime fish and chips a table at Maggie’s multi award winning café is surely the most coveted, so be sure to book!

For atmosphere, clinking glasses, lively conversation and platters of varied Spanish fare, Harris’s Tapas Bar makes for a cosy evening. The Dragon Bar is another favourite of mine with its miss matched furniture and amazing food served on old fashioned crockery, I always love to sit at the table with the antique Eiffel tower lamp.

If you are heading to St Leonards by day take a break from antiquing and pop in toAardvark Tearoom and Gallery for yummy cloudy lemonade or fresh coffee in vintage teacups with a side of local artwork. For lunch or dinner head to St. Clements where the menu and reviews are so good it is hard to settle on a choice, I am eager to try every dish.

Can I stay somewhere with a bit of character?

Around the area there are so many lovely places to stay all with an individual style. So I will share just a few, the first being Swan House, a five star award winning bed and breakfast that is stylishly decorated in calming coastal colours.

Lavender & Lace bed and breakfast is traditional old town accommodation on a street of ancient houses with welcoming hosts and homemade yoghurt and preserves on the menu.

The White House is a grand Victorian house, where each room has been distinctively decorated, and most have sweeping views over Hastings (pictured). They also have two self-catering options, a garden flat and a pretty New England style lodge.

Situated closer to Hastings town centre is Black Rock House boutique guesthouse, an elegantly renovated Victorian villa in a quiet leafy street.

What should I see, do or visit while I’m there?

During the day visit some of the local museums with stories about the history of the area and other seasonal exhibits, if its raining out a spooky walk in the underground maze of caves where the smugglers used to hide their rum and other illegal loot is always fun.

Take a stroll up the East Hill and find yourself in the sprawling country park, with breathtaking views, green valleys and cliffs down to the beach, most seasons the hills are alight with yellow flowers of gorse. Look over to the west and you will see the ancient ruins of Hastings castle.

On weekends after some café hopping and window browsing why not try your hand at pot throwing in the Old Hastings Pottery or of an evening take in a film with a glass of wine at the Electric Palace (pictured), an independently owned cinema that shows a great selection of more offbeat modern and classic old movies.

Not strictly Hastings, but if you have travelled some way and are willing to go a little further along the coast there is The De La Warr Pavilion. You can explore this fascinating building or visit one of the many contemporary art exhibitions. I like to grab a coffee or tea on a rainy day and watch the rough sea from the café windows.

When is the best time of year to go?

There is usually something going on most weekends. The hustle and bustle officially starts with the Jack in the Green Festival (pictured) on the first weekend of each May, bringing Morris dancers from all over to celebrate the release of the Spirit of Summer for another year,

June sees Open Studios from many local artists and crafters, and Coastal Currents is a multi media art festival that takes place at the end of August through September. Another favourite event never to be missed is the annual Hastings Seafood & Wine Festival, held around the third weekend of September, where local restaurants have stalls specialising in fish and seafood dishes, then in October there is the annual bonfire.

There is so much more but of course to make your trip truly all yours I will leave the rest for you to discover for yourself.

For more information about visiting Hastings, check out the Visit 1066 Country website.
Map of Hastings


Would you like to write a Great Escapes feature? If your local area is a hive of talent and creativity, and you’d like to share your address book secrets with our readers, we’d love to hear from you. Just send an email to editor@frombritainwithlove.com.

Leave a comment