I've been meaning to visit Hastings for years. The area is a huge part of our UK history and I wanted to get to Battle, to see the battlefield itself, the abbey, plus the surrounding area and seafront.
The seafront is pleasant enough, although don't expect anything special. There are lots of better and more picturesque south coast towns worth visiting. However, the area does have its good points, including the funicular railways which lead to some stunning views of Hastings.
Here is some info found on the Visit England website about the funicular railways:
"The United Kingdom's steepest funicular railway is not only a structure of national importance but also a source of immense local pride.
It casts a welcoming shadow over Europe's largest beach launched fishing fleet and provides thousands of residents and visitors easy access to the Hastings Country Park and some of the most spectacular vantage points over the town.
It's become an enduring symbol of the unique charm and character of Hastings, a symbol powerful and true enough to withstand two world wars and the fast-changing tides of a turbulent century.
The lift's charming lower station is in traffic-free George Street which is full of continental-style cafés, artshops and bookshops.
The West Hill itself offers some of the town's most remarkable views, stretching round to Beachy Head in the west and out across the Channel, the busiest sea lane on the world. It was on this hilltop that Hastings resident John Logie Baird, the inventor of television, made his first radar experiments.
Better still, you can enjoy these sights from inside the West Hill Café which is open throughout the Summer and offers a wide range of drinks and meals.
The planning of the East Hill Cliff Railway was fraught with unexpected pitfalls and seemingly insurmountable problems.
Although the town's council successfully bought the land, the original owner, the Reverend Sayer-Milward, had retained a covenant through which he could prevent any construction work.
This setback was quickly compounded by the submission of a major petition from people at High Wickham protesting against any proposed development.
The Council responded with a petition of its own in which 500 residents offered their support for the idea of a cliff railway. This created the impetus for a series of complex negotiations with Sayer-Milward which, after many arduous months, concluded with him granting approval in 1898.
Construction of the Railway
If the Council had found the planning process to be tough, it was nothing compared to the nightmare of the actual construction.
Deep faults in the rocks made it extremely difficult to safely evacuate the shaft and construction workers faced all manner of hidden hazards and perils.
In the Summer of 1902 the opening of the railway had to be delayed because one of the carriages (containing several Council officials) was derailed just fifteen yards from its apex.
Despite all of this, on August 10 1902, the railway finally opened and the first chapter of a one hundred year story had been written."
Unfortunately, we arrived at the Battle Abbey quite late in the day and therefore did not have enough time to enter the abbey or to get to see the battlefield of 1066 Battle of Hastings. I was very disappointed, but will make a point of returning to the area in the near future.