Hastings, 2 July 2009
After having spent much of the week in Hastings, we finally decided to visit the castle. The castle ruins are at the top of a cliff overlooking the city. The city, cliff, and castle are not what they were when William the Conqueror had it built - severe storms in the late 13th century reshaped much of England's southeast coastline. these storms eroded the cliff, causing cliff and part of the castle to collapse. so for once, I can't blame Cromwell for its disrepair - Mother Nature beat him to the punch. There was a church buildings still functional until the 16th century, but we have Henry VIII to thank/blame for its disrepair.
What was left was nice to see. We watched a short video about the history of the castle, and the view from the cliff is quite impressive. There was also a dungeon (or perhaps a storage area). It was a little damp, and very cold. Almost perfect for a wine cellar, but would have been a miserable place to be imprisoned.
After a late lunch, we drove to Pevensey Castle. Like Hastings, Pevensey was once on the coast, but changing geography has put it about a mile or so inland. There was intiially a Roman fortification at the castle site, then a Norman keep built up around that. There were even modern renovations - pillboxes and other changes made during WWII to support and defend troops stationed there. The outer Roman wall around the castle grounds in still standing, and much of it still in somewhat decent shape.
Inside the castle itself, we took the audio guided tour, which I found to actually be pretty interesting. I'd never done one of those before.
The dungeon area was dark, damp, and chilly, despite the hot temperatures. One of the other towers we technically couldn't go into the basement because it had flooded. Quite a shame - we took a peek, and the room seemed very well preserved. Except for the water, anyway. There were pigeons on nests there, and they didn't mind the water so much.
After Pevensey, we headed back to the hotel. Along the way we passed two Norman-era churches in the Pevensey area - St. Nicolas, and St. Mary the Virgin. If there had been parking around, we would have visited St. Mary's - it looked quite lovely from the outside.
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