A hill on the outskirts of Hastings was the site of a pivotal battle in medieval England and it will come as no surprise that a tourists flock from all over to see the site.
The hill where the battle between Harold Godwinson’s Anglo Saxon Army and William of Normandy’s troops is an attraction in itself, with a monastery having been built there by the Conqueror to honor the vanquished and give thanks to God.
The Normans were more technologically advanced than the Saxons and that was reflected in their stone masonry skills. William proceeded to cement his legacy by bringing those skills to England and his crowning achievement – pardon the pun – was the construction of Hastings Castle. The Saxons must have thought they were swapping one ruler for another, because the castle was built in wood stake and earth Motte and Bailey fortification style.
But it was a temporary structure and in 1070, William ordered for it to be rebuilt in stone.
For the natives, the huge stone edifice must have looked spectacular and completely different to anything they had ever seen before. William also ordered a castle to be built in Dover and another in nearby Pevensey.
When the Hundred Years War was in full swing, King John of England destroyed the castle to prevent the French from taking it, but it was rebuilt by King Henry III in 1220. The beginning of the end came in 1287 when a savage storm ravaged the South Coast of England.
The weather was so violent that large sections of the structure were washed out to sea. When King Henry VIII split with the Catholic Church in the mid-1500s, he ordered monasteries to be destroyed and of course, Hastings was a casualty.
The castle was also a target for German bombers in World War II, but in 1951, it was bought by the Hastings Corporation and turned into a tourist attraction. It is open to the public between the months of March and October.