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fered to alter their very character. Mr. Holloway, in his excellent “ History of the Town and Port of Rye” (which town, with Winchelsea, was added to the Cinque Ports before the time of Henry III.), has given a striking notice of these changes. The passage, though referring to a wide district, is worth quoting, as illustrative of the altered condition of this part of the coast :
“ Sandwich, the most eastern of the Cinque Ports, which in ancient times possessed a good and capacious harbour, now has its commerce restricted to such only as can be carried on by means of vessels of very small burden. Dover still has a harbour, but which is incapable of admitting any ship of war; and when the south-west gales come on, in the winter season, so great a bar of beach is thrown up at its mouth, that even vessels of the smallest dimensions cannot run in. West Hythe, the original Cinque Port; is now two or three miles inland; while its successor, the modern Hythe, though on the coast, has no harbour. Romney, once the queen of the ports, is now upwards of a mile from the sea, without a single creek or inlet to connect her with it. Old Winchelsea owes her destruction to the influx of the sea ; while New Winchelsea dates her decay from the time of reflux. Rye, in whose harbour, in the reign of Charles II., a sixty-four gun ship could ride in safety, will now admit no vessel of more than 200 tons burden. Hastings lies on the main, but has no harbour ; and no vessel ever lies ashore on her beach, for the purpose of delivering her cargo, but runs the risk of being wrecked should a gale of wind unluckily come on while she is there. Of this danger every year gives many unhappy proofs. Such is the present state of the once flourishing harbours of the Cinque Ports and ancient towns, and 200 years have now elapsed since the barons were last called upon to perform their service of shipping, and nearly the same length of time since they sent their bailiffs to Yarmouth, and since their fishermen steered their boats to the shores of Norfolk."
The town of Hastings bears few marks of its antiquity. It lies for the most part in hollow, snugly sheltered by good-sized hills on all sides, except the south, in which direction it is open to the sea. The original town is believed to have extended some distance to the south of the present one, its site being now partly covered by the waves. Very few of the houses in the present town appear to be old, but there has for the last quarter of a century been a continual effort to render every part of the town, except the quarters inhabited by the poor, as modern-looking and smart as possible, and any traces of antiquity are, therefore, scarcely to be expected. The castle is the chief relic of its ancient state. It stands on the brow of the lofty West-Hill, beneath which Pelham Crescent and other handsome rows of houses have been of late years erected. From a distance, especially on approaching Hastings from St. Leonard's, and from the sea, the fragments of the old castle have a picturesque appearance; but close at hand the picturesqueness entirely vanishes. The walls occupy a considerable space, but they are in a most dilapidated condition. The towers and keep have crumbled into a few grim and shapeless fragments. Of the chapel somewhat more remains, but in a most ruinous state. The arch, that presents so different an appearance to all else about it, is of recent manufacture, or—as the guide-books oddly call it-restoration ;-it was built up, in fact, out of fragments of the old castle. The area inclosed by the walls is "very tastefully laid out” in “lawns and flower-borders,” and “seats and bowers” are provided for visitors. * Admittance may be gained at any time, except on Sundays, to see the ruins, by payment of threepence; or to subscribers, at sixpence per week, the gate is always open.” The ruins are the property of the Earl of Chichester. The ruins themselves, as we have said, are seen to most advantage at a distance, but there are some charming prospects obtainable from the walls and terraces over the town, the surrounding country, and across the ocean.
Hastings Castle has witnessed no very remarkable events, and no battles or sieges are recorded as having occurred in connexion with it. A castle was erected here by the Conqueror, and it may have formed a part of the present edifice; but the greater part of what remains is of later date. William Rufus was detained in Hastings Castle for a month by adverse winds, which prevented him from embarking for Normandy. It is recorded that it was from Hastings Castle that John issued the proclamation which for the first time claimed for England the sovereignty of the seas.
The churches of St. Clement and All Saints are the only other architectural relics left of the ancient town: the ruins of a third church, St. Andrew's, were standing a few years since. Of the Priory of Hastings not a fragment remains : its site alone is indicated in the names of the Priory Farm and Ground, at a little distance west of the town. St. Clement's Church, which stands in the High-street, is rather a handsome structure, though of somewhat discordant styles. It appears to have been begun to be built in the early part of the fourteenth century, and enlarged and altered at various times till the close of the fifteenth; to say nothing of modern reparations. Two cannon-balls are fixed on the tower of this church, which were fired into the town by the Dutch and French fleets in 1728. One of the balls struck the church-tower, near the spot where they are now fixed as a memorial.
All Saints' Church stands in a happier situation than that of St. Clements, and is a finer and more interesting building. It was erected in the early part of the fourteenth century, has some good architectural features, and will well reward a careful inspection. Like too many of our churches, however, it has suffered considerably from repairs conducted in a grudging spirit. From the old London road, the church, as it is seen through the avenue of trees that adds so much of beauty to this entrance into the town, has a very picturesque appearance. The churchyard, which slopes up the hill behind the church, affords some pleasing prospects.
Having thus looked at all that is ancient in Hastings, we will now glance over its present condition. The town itself, as has been said, is mostly in a hollow sheltered on all sides, but the south, by surrounding hills. The older streets, that lie pretty close under the hills, and stretch up towards the London road, are narrow and inconvenient. They are mostly occupied as shops, but new ranges of smart and commodious dwelling-houses have been built on every hand. The adjacent town of St. Leonard's, which sprung up some eighteen years ago, about a mile and a half westward of Hastings, has already become united to the old town by the stretching out of rows of handsome residences towards it, and may now fairly be considered as only its 'west end.' For many years the visitors to Hastings had to submit to some inconveniences, but now it perhaps yields to no watering-place in the comforts and luxuries it affords. There are hotels of the first style for those who desire them, lodging-houses of every class, and furnished residences fit for lords or dukes. Or if Hastings be at all deficient in stylishness, or the company too general, St. Leonard's will supply the requirements of the most fastidious and exclusive.
Charles Lamb has given, in his · Margate Hoy,' a semi-serious account of his impressions of Hastings. His jottings are too precious to be omitted from our sketch-book. “ We have been,” he says,
" dull at Worthing one summer, duller at Brighton another, dullest at Eastbourne a third, and are at this moment doing dreary penance at Hastings!... I love town or country, but this detestable Cinque Port is neither. I hate these scrubbed shoots thrusting out their starved foliage from between horrid fissures of dusty innutritious rocks, which the amateur calls verdure to the edge of the sea.' I require woods, and they show me stunted coppices. I cry out for the water-brooks, and pant for fresh streams and inland murmurs. I cannot stand all
day on the naked beach, watching the capricious hues of the sea, shifting like the colours of a dying mullet. I am tired of looking out of the windows of this island prison, I would fain retire into the interior of my cage. While I gaze upon the sea I want to be on it, over it, across it. It binds me in with chains as of iron. .... There is no home for me here. There is no sense of home at Hastings. It is a place of fugitive resort, an heterogeneous assemblage of sea-mews and stock-brokers, Amphitrites of the town, and Misses that coquet with the ocean. If it were what it was in its primitive shape, and what it onght to have remained—a fair honest fishing town, and no more--it were something; with a few straggling fishermen's huts scattered about, artless as its cliffs, and with their materials filched from them, it were something..... I am sure that no town-bred or inland-born subjects can feel their true and natural nourishment at these sea places. Nature, where she does not mean us for mariners and vagabonds, bids us stay at home. The salt foam seems to nourish a spleen. I am not half so good-natured, as by the milder waters of my natural river. I would exchange these sea-gulls for swans, and scud a swallow for ever about the banks of Thamesis."
The writer of a Hastings Guide, in quoting this pleasant abuse, very naturally suggests that “ Charles Lamb must have been in rather a querulous mood when he wrote thus of poor Hastings.” But he did not mean it to be read literally. This good-humoured style of exaggeration is one of the peculiarities of his manner, and to his inimitable mastery of it is owing a good part of the charm of his “ Essays.” If he had been writing seriously it would be casy to convict him of error. There would be no difficulty in showing something far better than “stunted coppices” in the immediate vicinity of Hastings, and Elia was not wont to be quite unlocomotive.
Hastings' physicians have written a good deal about the climate of the town. They find that it is suitable for almost every complaint, and agrees with almost every constitution. This singular adaptability, however, requires explanation. Hastings, in fact, has many climates. Under the cliff, and in some sheltered spots, it is, even in winter, mild as Madeira : while from that there is a regular gradation, till we arrive at places where, even in the height of summer, the sight of Wenham ice would induce a fit of shivering. From our own experience we can vouch that, in some localities, the temperature often reaches the melting point, and have little doubt as to the remainder of the proposition. We therefore counsel our readers who may contemplate a brief sojourn at Hastings, not to make a hasty selection of their dwelling-place, but to consider the matter carefully, and take suitable advice. We have no doubt in our own mind that Elia was settled in the wrong degree.
We have spoken of St. Leonard's as a suburb of Hastings. It is so in fact ; but it chooses rather to consider itself as a distinct " town." It is quite a creature of our own day. Mr. Burton, the architect of a large part of the buildings about the Regent's Park, commenced the formation of a new town here in 1828. His plan was conceived on a bold scale, and was very fairly carried into execution. A noble esplanade extends for more than half a mile along the beach. A handsome range of buildings, called the Marina, some 500 feet in extent, stretches along the sea-front of the town, with a covered colonnade of the same length. Other terraces and scattered villas, bearing in character a considerable resemblance to those in the Regent's Park, were also erected, together with a church, assembly-rooms, bath-houses, and hotels of large size and the most complete arrangements. There are also pleasure-grounds and other contrivances for the amusement or comfort of visitors. St. Leonard's has been able to boast of a large array of noble and distinguished visitors from its earliest infancy. Her present Majesty heads the list, she having, when Princess Victoria, resided with
her mother, in 1834, at the western end of the Marina. The Queen Dowager's is also among the names it delights to remember. The house in which she lived is now called Adelaide House. And, last year, St. Leonard's was for a while the residence of the ci-devant King of the French, Louis Philippe. Among its literary visitants, Campbell has perhaps the first place, he having left a permanent record of his residence here in the “ Lines on the View from St. Leonard's."
St. Leonard's was originally a mile and a half distant from Hastings; but the old town has stretched out its arms to its youthful progeny. The Grand Parade was the first step towards uniting them; and now other places have sprung up, and they are fairly joined together. The esplanade now reaches, with hardly an interruption, from the Marine Parade at Hastings to the Marina at St. Leonard's, and forms probably the finest walk of the kind in the kingdom. In the population returns, the population of St. Leonard's is included with that of Hastings: the total number of inhabitants in 1841 was 11,607. The borough of Hastings sends, as it has done from the reign of Edward II., two members to Parliament.
We have probably said enough of the picturesque details of Hastings; but let us, as we are returning to it from St. Leonard's, pause for a moment to look at it as a whole. The good town is generally, and perhaps correctly, said to be seen to most advantage from this spot. The lofty and handsome range of Pelham Crescent, the church of St. Mary-at-Cliff, and other modern buildings, occupy a prominent place in the picture, and wear an imposing air as they stand contrasted with the meaner houses at their base, and are backed by the noble cliff which rises far above, and which has been carved away to afford room for them. The houses of the older part of the town running irregularly up the higher grounds, and opposing to each other every variety of size, and shape, and colour, prevent anything like formality, which the preponder. ance of the newer buildings would otherwise produce ; while the gray fragments of the ancient castle, crowning the summit of the lofty cliff, impart an air of dignity to the humbler dwellings beneath. And then, to complete the picture, a large fleet of fishing-smacks and boats, with numerous fishermen moving about them, are seen on the beach; and the ever-varying sea sweeps round the foreground, to give animation to the whole. The view of Hastings from the sea is justly admired. Another excellent view is that from the East Beach. The visitor should stroll thither, when the tide is out, for the sake of the fine view he will obtain of the town from the black rocks just beyond the furthest breakwater. This view, though little known, is a remarkably good one. Seen by the light of the western sun, it is very striking.
Even more worthy of notice than the views of the town we are inclined to think are the fishermen of Hastings. The Hastings fishermen are a class that the visitor should endeavour to become acquainted with. The pilots and fishermen all round our coast are a fine race of men ; possessing in common the attributes of bravery, skill, and hardihood, but having in almost every locality their peculiar characteristics. Our Hastings fishermen are behind none in any of the chief excellences of their craft; and they are not wanting in their peculiarities. Their reserve, however, renders them difficult to make anything like familiar acquaintance with ; they may be seen about the lower beach and fishmarket all day, mending or tanning their nets, or engaged in some other equally characteristic occupation. One of the liveliest scenes in which they engage is a Dutch auction, as it is called. You see one or more of a boat's crew bring a basket or two of fish ashore, and cast its contents heedlessly upon the shingles. Instantly from all quarters come running up the fish-dealers, of both sexes, and generally a few fishermen move forward to witness the sport. These form themselves into a circle, which widens as fresh buyers come. One of the crew to whom the fish belongs
stands out as auctioneer. While he is looking round, one of the women perhaps calls out, “Well, old chap, what do 'e ax for 'em?” At once his answer is ready, and the business immediately commences. In a grave monotonous tone, he cries “ Thirty shillings-twenty-nine and sixpence-twenty-nine;" and so he goes on rapidly falling, sixpence at a time, till some one exclaims, “ Hap!"-or, “I 'll ha' 'em;" when the auction is over, and the transfer is made. A few rough jests generally vary the entertainment, but the sale is conducted with as much decorum as one at “Garraway's.”
The boats employed in the Hastings fishery are of a lighter description than the Brighton craft. The stranger who can stand a little rough sailing should endeavour to go out in one on its fishing trip. He may easily manage it, and will be well pleased with the excursion ; that is, of course, supposing him not to be so fastidious as to be above bearing for a while, and even enjoying, the unsophisticated habits of the fishermen—and perhaps some trifling inconveniences on the score of cleanliness. Of regular sailing or row-boats, that are kept for pleasure trips, there are of course plenty at Hastings, and the boatmen are no novices. We suppose few will visit Hastings without indulging in a sail.
We have spoken as if it were to the ocean and the fishermen alone that the beach owed its attractions; this is by no means the case. All along it the land helps to form with one and another section of the bay a succession of charming pictures, such as Stanfield, and Harding, and other of our excellent band of landscape painters have been happy in transferring to the canvas. We have mentioned above, in pointing attention to the fine stretch of sea across which the eye roams unimpeded as we stroll along the several Parades which have been constructed between Hastings and St. Leonard's, the picturesque views that occur when the shore forms part of the prospect; but the continuation of the walk along the beach east of Hastings is even finer. Then the noble Eastbourne Bay is seen in all its extent. In the far distance the long projection of Beachy Head rests on the ocean like a purple cloud. Close at hand the steep dilapidated crag towers up aloft, and huge fragments that have toppled down from the old rock lie scattered about its base. Beyond, something is seen of the town, with the crowd of boats hauled up on the beach below it. On the sea, hoys and light craft move rapidly in-shore, while towards the horizon vessels of larger burden are seen with crowded canvas, bearing, perhaps, the brave and the beautiful to a distant land from which they shall never return. And creeping quietly among the rocks at your feet is a solitary old man, depositing in the shallow water, and among the crevices of the rocks, his little prawn baskets, by means of which he earns a scanty and precarious subsistence.
The cliffs, which, from their worn and shattered forms, have so picturesque an appearance, are of the formation which geologists have named the Hastings sand, the rocks in this locality being the type of the whole formation. They are composed of a soft sand, hardly consolidated enough to be called a stone. In various places the cliffs have been tunnelled to some distance, and where no longer worked the Hastings people have converted them into show-places. These caverns, as they are called, are occasionally lighted up, and strangers are generally accustomed to visit them; but those who have seen the caverns of Yorkshire and Derbyshire had better stay away from these. An excavation, however, in the East Cliff is perhaps worth inspecting. It is a good height up the cliff, and would have nothing in itself to attract notice; but it has been made the abode of a family whose domestic economy is rather singular. The head of the family is an Irishman named Butler, who, about a dozen years ago, chose to fix on this windy elevation for his cabin, and enlarged the existing excavations so as to form a good-sized sitting-room with a sleeping-room beyond. He has a wife,