Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper
Heritage asset: the pier under restoration.

Heritage asset: the pier under restoration.

A chance to cherish Hastings’ heritage

Look around you! Too much of historic Hastings and St Leonards has been demolished or abused, or is under threat, but despite regrets some people really like what’s left in the borough, finds Bernard McGinley. Exceptional places are visitable thanks to the Love Architecture Festival and Heritage Open Days.

As if Coastal Currents weren’t enough, September also sees the Love Architecture Festival, which runs from Thursday 10 to Sunday 13 September. The organiser, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), is orchestrating it in a partnership with Heritage Open Days, which is managed by the National Trust and has been an expanding success since 1994.

Hastings is fortunate in being one of only two towns in the south-east getting concentrated support from RIBA (Gosport in Hampshire is the other). Historians, architects and specialists are involved in celebrating the exceptional qualities of the borough, from the Old Town of Hastings to the Late Regency new town of Burtons’ St Leonards.

Heritage asset: Archery Villas in St Leonards.

Heritage asset: Archery Villas in St Leonards.

The theme is ‘Engaging people with the story of buildings — past, present and future’, and this is the first time that Love Architecture has linked nationally with Heritage Open Days. Participating local venues and currently planned events include the following:

• The Greek Orthodox Church of St Mary Magdalene, just off Warrior Square, which was designed by Frederick Marrable, also the architect of the Garrick Club in London. The church has many fine features.

Greek Byzantine icons will be on display and there will be an information board on the building’s detailed features, including a notable window by Edward Burne-Jones.

Thursday 10 to Saturday 12 September, 10am to 4pm

Sunday 13 September, 12.30 to 3pm, Holy Liturgy Service 9.30am to 12.30pm

No booking required.

The Fish House, 130 Bohemia Road. See the work in progress and talk to the architect, Ken Davis, about his ongoing conversion of a Victorian fish shop into a sustainable, contemporary two-bedroom house.

Not suitable for under-18s. Saturday 12 September, 10am to 6pm

White Rock Baths offers a tour with Roger Saville of Saville Jones Architects, who are converting the historic baths into a BMX and skateboard park — a controversial decision for some.

Saturday 12 September 11am, pre-booking essential.

• The Jerwood Gallery will offer a tour of its [L S] Lowry by the Sea exhibition, led by its director and curator, Victoria Howarth. There is no charge but advanced booking is required as places are limited. There will also be an information board about the Jerwood, a RIBA award-winning building, devised by its architects, HAT Projects.

Thursday 10 September 11.30am, and see the board throughout the weekend.

Hastings Pier Silent Disco

The restoration of Hastings Pier - a new building arises.

The restoration of Hastings Pier – a new building arises.

To celebrate its rich musical history and its reopening in March 2016, Hastings Pier is allowing some special visits. There will be a chance to visit the pier, while it is still a construction site, and experience it through sound, with special earphones.

Pre-booking essential: contact Not suitable for under-16s.

Thursday 10 September, 5 to 6pm (16-24s)

Friday 11 September, 5 to 6pm (over 24s)

• Two of the major churches of Central St Leonards, Christ Church (Grade II* Listed) and the Congregational Church (currently being part-converted), are offering tours during Heritage Open Days. Details of these are available from Stuart Rumsey of RDP Architects: sr@rdparchitects, 01424 714343.

• The Burtons’ St Leonards Society at South Lodge, St Leonards Gardens, has a small exhibition and will maintain an information board on the design and development of Burtons’ St Leonards at South Lodge, St Leonards Gardens. The Heritage Open Days website has more details, and will carry up-to-date details of events in Hastings and St Leonards.

• The Bohemia Walled Garden, Summerfields Wood, Bohemia Road

Sunday 13 September: A great chance to see the Bohemia Walled Garden, with members of its association. Many events planned, from 12 noon on.

Alexandra Park Greenhouse, 1 St Helens Road, Hastings (where the two wings of the park meet).

The Alexandra Park Greenhouse Group are carefully restoring a 1930s greenhouse.

Sunday 13 September, 11am to 6pm

Part of the heritage: St Leonards Warrior Square station.

Part of the heritage: St Leonards Warrior Square station.

• The Bohemia Ice House, near Horntye Sports Centre, Bohemia Road, Hastings

The Ice House is Grade II listed, part of what’s left of old Summerfields.

Sunday 13 September, 10am to 3pm. Pre-book for available slots: please ring 01424 44427.

Christ Church Blacklands, Laton Road, Hastings

Listed Grade II*, the church is richly decorated and well worth visiting. No booking necessary.

Saturday 12 September, 10am to 4pm

Sunday 13 September, 12am to 4pm

• The Hastings Area Archaeological Research Group (HAARG), Hastings History House, 21 Courthouse Street, Hastings Old Town

There will be a display of archaeological artifacts found by HAARG members (not suitable for under-6s.)

Thursday 10 to Sunday 13 September, 11am to 4pm

His Place Community Church, Robertson Street, Hastings

Grade II listed, and with a working Victorian organ that will be played.

Art exhibition.

Friday 11 and Saturday 12 September, 10am-4pm. Film on slavery Friday, 1-3am.

Heritage asset: Former Convent of the Holy Child Jesus - not visitable, fate undecided.

Heritage asset: former Convent of the Holy Child Jesus – not visitable, fate in the air.

Old St Helen’s Church, Ore Place (near Hastings Crematorium)

Saturday 12 September, 10am to 4pm

No booking required. Groups and tower ascents limited to four at any one time. Not suitable for pre-school children.



Room divider at the Beacon

The Beacon, 67-68 St. Mary’s Terrace, Hastings

Some elaborate Victorian technology: a room divider using large counterweights — still fully functioning.

Friday 11 September 1 to 4pm

Tours at 2pm and 3pm

Pre-booking preferred for talk and tour.

Tea-room and gardens open.

The Stade

Guided walk of the fishing quarter and its architecture, starting from the RNLI Lifeboat Station, Old Town.

Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 September, 11am to 12.30pm. No booking required.

* * *

RIBA’s Love Architecture initiative has been involved in finding architects and specialists and encouraging them to organise activities around buildings’ architectural features and significance. The exceptional townscapes and planned details of St Leonards and Hastings are slowly becoming more recognised as high-quality instances of the built environment (for instance, walk along Pevensey Road or Laton Road and look up and around).

“RIBA supported local architects’ revisualisations of sites in Hastings and St Leonards — on display last year as ‘So Create A Difference’,” commented James Robinson, RIBA regional director. “More recently, we organised an election hustings at Hastings Town Hall about the future built environment. We’re very pleased to be able to continue our support for Hastings and St Leonards architects and for the celebration of quality architecture from all ages in the town.”

It is advisable to check arrangements before turning up. Developing information on Love Architecture/Heritage Open Days can be found via Love Architecture@HOD and on the HOD website, or on Heritage Open Days’ Advanced Search page.


All photos by Bernard McGinley.


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Posted 11:20 Wednesday, Aug 26, 2015 In: Home Ground

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