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Hastings West Hill
(Ancient Norman Castle)
The West Hill is the most prominent feature in Hastings, and can be seen
from most of the sea front, from the Harbour to the Pier and beyond into
St Leonards .
To get to the hill top, you can walk the many flights of steps from the
Old Town or you can take a hidden cable railway from George Street to
the top. This Cable railway was built in the 1800's and was then powered by
spring and rain water fed into a tank under the top carriage, whose weight
took the top carriage down and the visitors in the bottom carriage up. It
is also possible to drive to the top by travelling from the Town Centre or
by going inland from the Old Town .
The Castle was built in 1086 by the Normans to defend the port of Hastings
from unwanted visitors from northern europe , and provided accomodation for
the King on his journeys to Normandy . The Count of Eu a relative of William
was given the Rape of Hastings , and the responsibility of retaining communications
with Normandy .
The Castle had a few famous visitors , King William II stayed here in 1095
while he waited for favourable seas to take him to France, while here he
visited the newly formed Abbey at Battle .
King Steven visited in 1149, and King John was here in 1201 . The final
Royal visit before the 18th century was King Edward I who came to this
prominent Cinque Port in 1274.
From the 1300's to the present day, the castle appears to have had limited
occupiers, and in 1343 and 1366 the people of Hastings finding it empty
stole from it, but that seems to be the last event that the castle was
The West Hills are made from sandstone and have many caves in, it is
believed that many of the caves were dug in the 1700's by people excavating
the sand which is of a high quality for its use in glassmaking.
It is thought that the caves were used by the smugglers to hide contraband
in the 18th century, but this was probably limited as the excavation of the
caves for glass was at around the same time, however it makes a good story
for the local Tourist Trade. It is more likely that the fishermen of Hastings
were used to carry contraband from Europe, and land the goods at Fairlight ,
Pett or along the coast on the current Pevensey Levels where Normans Bay
| There is the cable railway which is quite fun to travel on, a cafe is
found at the top together with a large grassy park.
The Hastings caves can be found about a half mile from the castle towards Ore .
Children are catered for with the childrens playpark on top of the hill,
and there are a small number of shops and public houses within the area.
| From the top of the hills on a clear day you can see the coast of France.
A visit to the Castle with its spectacular views provides a good summer
Looking down on the old town is quite spectacular, with the old narrow
streets and rooftops contrasting with the grass and the rocks of the
East Hill .
The whole of the Hastings and St Leonards sea front is visible, and the
South Downs at Eastbourne and Beachy Head can be seen in the distance.