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Summary Article: Hastings from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Resort in East Sussex, southeast England, on the English Channel; population (2001) 85,800. Fishing is an important activity; the town has Britain's largest fleet of beach-launched fishing boats and a new wholesale fish market. Other industries include engineering and the manufacture of scientific and aerospace-related instruments, plastics, electronics, and domestic appliances. William the Conqueror landed at Pevensey to the west and defeated Harold at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

Hastings flourished in the 12th and 13th centuries as the chief of the Cinque Ports. It has the ruins of a Norman castle. The annual Hastings Premier, England's leading international chess tournament, is held here in December/January.

Features The old town in the east part of Hastings is surrounded by high cliffs, and includes the 13th-century St Clement's Church; the old town hall, now housing a museum of local history; and the Perpendicular All Saints' Church. The castle ruins include a museum which gives an account of the invasion of 1066 and the history of the castle. The Fisherman's Museum, housed in a building which was once the fishing community's church, and the Shipwreck Heritage Centre depict the town's fishing and maritime history. The St Clement's Caves, a labyrinth of sandstone caves below the West Hill and East Hill cliff railways, include a museum which illustrates the importance of smuggling to the economy of the town in the 18th century. The West Hill line runs up to the castle. White Rock Pavilion houses the Hastings Embroidery, made by the Royal School of Needlework for the 900th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings. The western part of the town, which developed as a resort in the early 19th century, adjoins St Leonard's to the west, and includes a promenade and a pier. Battle Abbey, built on the site of William the Conqueror's victory, lies 10 km/6 mi to the northwest. The wreck of the Dutch East Indiaman Amsterdam (1748) lies buried in mud on the beach near Hastings.

History The settlement became prominent after the Saxon period and by the 12th century Hastings was the leading member of the Cinque Ports confederation, with William I's castle dominating the town. With the silting-up of the harbour and use of larger ships, the importance of the town declined, and it was known in the early 18th century as a smugglers' haunt. It became a fashionable resort in the early 19th century, but its popularity declined in the late 19th century, and it suffered extensive bomb damage during World War II.

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