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The Restoration Project house in All Saints Street, Hastings Old Town

History on the doorstep

It is easy to forget that Old Town Week isn’t just a 9-day boozy celebration with party games like the Pram Race for entertainment. It’s worth a careful look at the programme to see what other delights are on offer. Erica Smith set off to explore.

Interior of the History House in All Saints StreetThe Living History restoration project at the top of All Saints Street is one example. At 5′ 3″, I didn’t think I’d need to heed the warning about low ceilings, but the cheerful man at the door reminded me that I was a ‘Tudor Giant”. Inside, the rooms were lit by candle-light and scented with wood smoke from fires in the minimalist fire places. This house was built before Christopher Columbus set off to find the New World, so it is no surprise that the floors are now far from horizontal. It felt a little like being on board an old boat.

Over the last eight years, the house has slowly been pared back to its original minimalist state. More of a deconstruction project than reconstruction. There are few concessions to comfort: some simple ticking mattresses and pillows, and woven-backed Shetland fisherman’s chairs.

Interior detail of the History House in All Saints StreetThe few items of domestic necessity, crocks and wooden tables, are strangely beautiful. They are all carefully chosen and placed. The building reminded me of an extreme version of Hendy’s Home Store in the High Street, with its minimalist austerity chic. No surprises then, when it turned out that the owner of the house in All Saints Street is the same Alastair Hendy!

The house in All Saints Street is a private residence, but has been open to the public in Old Town Week for the last four years. Keep an eye out for the date of the next open day. The entrance fee donations are passed on to Old Hastings Preservation Society.

Posted 10:47 Thursday, Aug 9, 2012 In: 1067 & All That

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