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Baker Mamonova Gallery - recently moved into a large new space at the old cinema

A Rummage round St Leonard’s with the Battleaxe

St Leonard’s is a browser’s mecca – everything from very upmarket arty galleries to basic junk. Hastings Battleaxe reviews antiques vintage shops and galleries from her walk around St Leonard’s.

Arthur Green's - originally a gentleman's outfitting store

We often take the route described below – it takes about half a day to do it thoroughly.  There are many other interesting shops along the way, and many charity shops, which I have not covered individually.  This post only covers St Leonard’s – I will do another on the Old Town shortly. Opening times for some of these places are erratic, but you are usually safe on a Saturday. The walk actually starts in Hastings, because I didn’t want to leave out the places on the seafront – and it is nice to have a walk by the sea on a sunny day. Start at the end of Robertson Street, and walk along the front past the British Heart Foundation furniture shop. You sometimes see nice bits of mid-century G plan type stuff in here.

First, the Arthur Green’s Antique Centre.

Arthur Green's - the antique interior decor

Fans of Victorian shop architecture should visit this place just to look at it – it is a beautiful, original gentleman’s outfitting store with all the original fittings. They have a varied stock, mostly small bits, lots of china and glass, some vintage clothes. Prices are average. The shop is in the same old hotel block that served as the set for the 2012 film Byzantium. See previous Battleaxe blog post.

Stuff

Next, there is the similar, but smaller and plainer White Rock Antiques Centre. That’s it for a bit. The desperate can stop off at the White Rock Hotel for a coffee or pint break – the front terrace  is very popular, or alternatively cross the road and walk along the sea front, viewing progress on the pier renovation works (if any), until you get past Warrior Square. There is a seafront cafe by the loos – warm weather only – or cross the road back again. We tend to stop for coffee at Smiths – they do excellent food too, but the cafe does get hot and crowded. It is almost next door to our next shop – Stuff by the Sea. The name is currently just chalked on a clothes bin outside this large, inexpensive vintage clothes shop – ideal for a rummage.

London Road antiques centre - well worth a browse

Round the corner into London Road, and up the hill. Opposite is the large London Road Antiques Centre, with a London Underground theme. This is well worth a browse – a fair bit of reproduction stuff, but many gems as well, and prices are very reasonable. It is right next door to the  Love Cafe – popular with many, but every time Philosopher and I have been, the service has been too slow.

Carry on up London Road, cross over

Kings Road Bazaar - many little gems found

Norman Road, and turn right into Kings Road, heading for Warrior Square Station. This attractive road is full of funny little shops, many of which, unfortunately, do not stay very long. At the moment there is a new posh wine shop, a couple of galleries, a biker’s shop, a high-class dress exchange, a goth/fetish shop, a nice art supplies shop and many random charity and second-hand shops.We tend to walk up the right side of the road, investigating everything of interest, and back down the other.

Norman Road Street art, with a bit from Scrabbleman - it says 'I'm mad as hell'

Firstly, on the right, the enormous Kings Road Bazaar has been around for a long while. This is mostly full of junk, but we have found many little gems over the years, and it is always worth a poke about. Almost opposite is its higher class cousin – Kings Road Antiques. This has a varied stock and usually some interesting things – not cheap though.

Back down London Road, and right up Norman Road. Interestingly, the bottom stretch of Norman Road going down to Warrior Square has become very Middle Eastern, with many Turkish shops and cafes. The upper stretch is becoming very arty, with its own shopping website. First, Xanadu vintage, next to the Little Larder Cafe, is excellent, if a bit cramped. (the same can be said of the cafe!). Opposite is Shop – this used to have nice retro stuff, but is now mostly gifts and high-end retro style homeware, with the delicious Michala’s Cute Cakes Cafe taking up more and more room.

Gensing and Wayward

We particularly like the Baker Mamonova Gallery, which has recently moved into a large new space in what was an old cinema. It specialises in twentieth-century Russian art, and many of the paintings are stunning. There is now also a Gallery Cafe on the premises. However, the prices are eye-watering – we’d need to win the Lottery to afford anything out of here. Next door, our friend Patrick Robbins has moved in, vacating his old premises at the top of the road. His new place, now called the Fleet Gallery, is bigger, lighter and very attractive. Several paintings in our house came from Patrick, but now he has moved a bit upmarket.

As with Kings Road, shops tend to come and go, and move around a bit. We like one very high-end mid-century shop – I think it is ‘Antiques on Sea’ but at the moment it has no name outside, and Gensing Antiques, which is a chaotic mass of stacked up paintings, kept by a very talkative old guy. We can’t go in there too often because we never come out empty handed. There is also the Hastings Antiques Centre, which deals in older stuff, the Wayward vintage haberdashery shop, and several more, including a strange junky place at the top of the road.

Gensing Antiques - all those pictures! and a very talkative old guy

We turn left at the top of Norman Road, and go down East Ascent at the back of Marine Court. If it’s hot it is nice to have a picnic in St Leonard’s Gardens. Then down onto the front, and left along the colonnade. Much of this has got a bit run-down looking.  Poffley’s Cafe is opposite the Azur – somehow we have never got over the loss of the wonderful Post Office Tea Room, and don’t go to Poffley’s, although I hear it is fine. Once past Poffley’s, you reach the Arts Forum Gallery, and then a variety of little places underneath Marine Court, including the classy Burton Gallery.  Probably our most expensive piece of glass, a large vintage Mdina bottle vase, came from here. By this time we have usually had enough – we walk down to Warrior Square and get the bus home!

Republished with kind permission from Stephanie Gaunt, aka Battleaxe. Stephanie moved from Birmingham to Hastings in November 2011 with her husband, the Philosopher. They now live overlooking the sea in the Clive Vale area of the town. Formerly a consultant working in social housing, she is now a part-time writer.

Posted 10:44 Monday, Jan 27, 2014 In: Shops & Things

2 Comments

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  1. Cecily Harends

    Despite your comment about slow service we’ve only experienced this a couple of times – we go there for the food and the lovely laid back atmosphere and not when we are in rush. We are so short of interesting cafes/restaurants which open in the evening so are thrilled that LOVE opens some Friday nights. Rosie’s Prawn Thai Curry is to die for and you won’t get better spaghetti with meat balls! Another plus is that you can take your own wine with very reasonable corkage charged.

    Comment by Cecily Harends — Wednesday, Feb 5, 2014 @ 17:59

  2. Sam Martin

    You missed a treat not going to Poffleys, it’s much better than the Post Office Tea Rooms was….go and check it out!

    Comment by Sam Martin — Monday, Jan 27, 2014 @ 15:11

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