Hastings Castle - History and Facts | History Hit

Hastings Castle

Hastings, England, United Kingdom

Hastings Castle was one of the first Norman castles to be built in England.

Lily Johnson

24 May 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Hastings Castle

Hastings Castle is an 11th-century ruined castle built by William the Conqueror during his successful invasion of Britain.

Hastings Castle history

Hastings Castle was originally built as a timber structure after William the Conqueror first landed in England in 1066, alongside Pevensey Castle and Dover Castle. Shortly after Hasting Castle’s construction, William decisively defeated King Harold nearby in one of the most significant battles in English history – the Battle of Hastings.

Having emerged victorious in his conquest of England, William was crowned King William I on 25 December of that year. However, it was only in 1070 that the Norman king gave orders to transform Hastings Castle into a fully fledged stone fortified castle, the ruins of which can be seen there today.

Some parts of the structure were added later, notably the Church of St. Mary in the Castle, built by the Count of Eu, to whom William gave Hastings Castle. The Count of Eu would continue to hold Hastings Castle for most of the Norman period.

At one point, Hastings Castle was dismantled on the orders of King John, who feared it being taken by French Prince Dauphin Louis, and although rebuilt and refortified by Henry II in around 1220-5, Hastings Castle would not remain intact for long.

Battered by brutal winds in the 13th century, the area of Hastings suffered severe deterioration, with many tracts of land falling into the sea. Hastings Castle was no exception. Great segments of the castle were lost and, with the harbour having been destroyed too, it was abandoned.

The only part of Hasting Castle that continued to function was its church, although this was disbanded during Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries.

Hastings Castle today

Today, Hastings Castle is open to the public who can tour its atmospheric ruins and walk in the footsteps of one of Britain’s most famous figures. The visit also includes ‘The 1066 Story’, a 20-minute audio-visual programme exploring the site’s fascinating history and the Norman Conquest that facilitated it.

Located high on West Hill, beautiful views over the town of Hastings and its harbour may be admired from the once-imposing fortress, and when combined with a visit to the nearby Battle Abbey and Battlefield give a rare glimpse into Britain’s fascinating Norman past.

Getting to Hastings Castle

Hastings Castle is located in Hastings on England’s southeast coast and can be reached via the A259 and A21. Hastings train station is a 10-minute walk away, while the West Hill Funicular Railway may also be taken to the top of the hill from the Old Town. A number of bus services stop at the Pelham Place stop, a 10-minute walk away.

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