David Clarke has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1998 to be identified as the author of this work. Text, maps and photographs are Copyright © David Clarke 7th October 2016. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted without the prior consent of the author. At the time of writing, all routes follow public rights of way or permitted paths. However, diversions can be made at any time and permissions withdrawn – for which I cannot be held responsible – and care should be taken to abide by any local restrictions after the writing of this walk. About public transport; changes to timetables can be made at any time and it is important to check that the service and schedules before your walk. Similarly, landlords leave, pubs close and reopen and their character can change for better or worse for which I cannot take any responsibility. In Alexandra Park and East Hill, you may need good walking shoes suitable for uneven, possibly muddy paths and sun protection and a hat for hot days and waterproofs for that hint of rain. These walks allow walkers to explore Hastings and St Leonards, and to help preserve the walk for others, remember to: • Keep dogs under control • Protect wildlife, plants and trees • Take litter home or dispose of it appropriately • Take special care when walking by and crossing roads • Do not play music loudly or create excessive noise History Walks or David Clarke do not accept any responsibility for any injuries or losses which may occur on Pub Walk in Hastings and St Leonards. Walkers are advised to ensure that their personal insurance cover is adequate and are advised to carry their own basic first aid kit. Some helpful websites before you start: ▪ Stagecoach www.stagecoachbus.com/plan-a-journey ▪ Traveline www.travelinesoutheast.org.uk ▪ Weather Forecast www.news.bbc.co.uk/weather ▪ WhatPub www.whatpub.com Information about the pubs, beers, contact details and opening hours are shown on the CAMRA WhatPub web site at: www.whatpub.com Cover: The Horse & Groom, St Leonards on Sea
History Walks No.6 Five Pub Walks in Hastings & St Leonards Walk Index Pub Distance Page 6 General Havelock 1¼ miles Page 11 The North Star 4½ miles Page 18 Horse and Groom 2¾ miles Page 24 Plough 1½ miles Page 31 Royal Standard 1¾ miles Page 37 Beer Notes
Hastings and St Leonards - an amazing place to live. Moving here eleven years ago, gave me the opportunity to explore all the footpaths and parks locally before starting to write 1066 Harold’s Way and King Harold II taking over my life. Those first walks have not been forgotten. Alexandra Park was unique, a park that encompassed steep climbs, black lakes sheltered by dark trees, tumbling streams, a landscape that would not be amiss in Derbyshire and even its own waterfall. But most visitors never venture further than the manicured lawns and children’s playground. West Hill and East Hill have so much history and there is more to both than just a ride up the funicular railway. Burton St Leonards and St Leonards Warrior Square where there is history and secrets to add to the walk. And finally, a walk where the walk does take second place to the pint, a Grade II listed pub on CAMRA’s National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors – it would be very remiss of me not to include the General Havelock. Five urban walks that will give you the opportunity to explore and discover another side to Hastings and St Leonards and they will not disappoint and neither will the pub, or in some case pubs, that have been chosen to accompany these five pub walks. Why Five? Those with a real thirst………………for ‘walking’ could do them all in a week with two days off for good behaviour but it is probably better to spread them out. Rest assured that if you continue to walk the walk and visit the pubs they will all be there for you next time! Two of the pubs are part of the same small chain and offer a loyalty card, valid in both to add to their attraction. I am sure that you can imagine all the hard work that went into the research for these walks. Someone had to do it though and whilst I had offers to share the load, I felt that it was my duty to complete the task myself. Tasting notes are at the back. I do hope that you enjoy this selection of Pub Walks, I know I did!
Pub Walks I am always curious about the plethora of ‘Pub Walk’ books in Waterstones, Smiths or any good book shop. Once bought, these collections of 25 or 40 ‘pub walks’ often lie unopened in the bookcase or perhaps read once at Christmas or Birthdays to get an insight and feel for the tradition of the country pub. Am I being too harsh? Not really for there they sit on my bookshelf only to be opened for reference when planning long distance walks. All the books offer inviting glimpses of some wonderful country pub with open fires, beams and settles and beer spotted tables. The jolly bearded landlord stands behind the bar chatting to the habitué of that special bar stool with that plaque above his head. Often there is a unique game attached to the pub where the rules are only known to a handful of locals. You have driven miles down country lanes to get to this circular walk, described as overlooking some of the best views in the county, and yet, even if you have taken off your muddy boots your entrance is greeted with little enthusiasm. After all, that cheery landlord knows that the most you will ask for is a half and a bag of crisps - “I’m driving” will be the embarrassed comment. What is the point! My Pub Walks I want pub walks that you can get to by bus or train and to leave the car at home. I want to be able to enjoy the pint and sit and remember the walk. I’ve had a good day and am happy as the proverbial ‘pig’ because I know I have my own Stagecoach to chauffeur me home, provided I do not miss that last bus. For me, it is the walk that takes pride of place and that welcome pub is the reward for all the effort, and I have had some fine rewards on all my walks. The opportunity for a pint locally in The Woodcock at Iden Green, The Bull at Benenden, The Old Vine at Cousley Green, The Ostrich at Robertsbridge and The Swan at Sandhurst would not have happened without the services of the Country Bus. They are just a few of the pubs that have gallons of rural charm and enhance the spirit as well as the body. And now for something completely different. In this Pub Walk book, all the pub walks are within easy reach of Hastings Town Centre, the same Hastings rated “third coolest seaside town in Britain” by the Telegraph.
Walk 1: General Havelock, The Pier & The America Ground This short walk reflects on the building of Hastings ‘New Town’ as Hastings began to develop as a seaside resort in the late 18 th century. Once the America Ground was cleared, the developments began that would culminate in the creation of the pier and finally the promenade. Sadly, some key landmarks have been lost but there is hope of restoration especially now that the fire wracked pier of 2010 has been reborn as a st rejuvenated, modernist pier for the 21 century, shorn of tat, enabling uninhibited views of the whole of the sea front, if you walk to the very end. It can be an invigorating walk to the Pier, in a stiff south westerly with the waves crashing over the promenade, but in a lighter breeze and on a sunny day it is a leisurely stroll through the joggers, walkers and mums with pushchairs. There may even be time for an ice cream. The start and finish is at the General Havelock where the outside tables and chairs tempt you for a drink, however weak the sunshine, but really, you must go inside the Havelock to stand in awe at some of the largest tiled murals in any pub in England. I will leave my look inside until the end of the walk. *CAMRA quotes that ‘The General was built in 1857 and named after Sir Henry Havelock, a distinguished campaigner during the Indian Mutiny. The General himself cuts an imposing figure astride his horse in a tiled panel at the entrance. It dates, like the rest of the tiling, from a refit in 1889-90 and an inscription tells us it came from ATS Carter of Brockley in south-east London.’ These spectacular panels line the wall of what was once a corridor with one of the two larger murals showing a scene from the Battle of Hastings and the other large mural shows what is assumed to be the crew of the Conqueror, Hastings fighting a shipload of French pirates. The third tiled painting shows Hastings Castle and on the wall by the back door is the General himself. The pictures date from between 1890 and 1917. *(CAMRA Pub Heritage - Historic Pub Interiors – www.pubheritage.camra.org.uk/pubs/pubguide.asp) Continued at Page 11
Walk 2: The North Star and Alexandra Park Alexandra Park is some park. It stands shoulder to shoulder with some of the best parks in England. This is no mild boast but you must walk it to find all the hidden gems. Enter the gates at the junction with St Helen’s Road and Queen’s Road, just a short walk or bus ride from the town centre and it presents a picture of all the usual ingredients of a Victorian Park. There is a boating lake but no boats, and across the other side of the park, a war memorial, children’s playground and the park’s café, resplendent with decking and tables and chairs for outdoor conversation whenever it isn’t raining. But venture beyond the wide-open spaces of children running and playing and mums and dads trying to keep up, across the road into the rest of the park to the beginnings of winding paths across streams and in between the trees. The miniature railway has occasional outings and the green houses are being repaired. Gentle climbs lead you beyond a largish fishing lake into the beginnings of a steep valley with unmade paths that follow the stream to Old Roar Ghyll. Here you can imagine exploring a remote hidden valley somewhere in Wales. There are ferns and overhanging trees, the sound of the water rushing through gullies and a feel of mystery, emphasised by a darkness even in high summer. The return is the same way back to the other side of the fishing lake and a track carpeted with leaves that leads to those black pools surrounded by dark trees. The path climbs but leaves the steepest hill until last to ensure your thirst, for The North Star is just around the corner. The return leads you downhill through the trees to that more manicured park, past the café and children’s playground to the gates and full circle’ The North Star is a treat too. A proper pub with little of the 21 century. It was most st likely named after the famous railway locomotive built by George Stephenson for the Great Western Railway. At one point, the locomotive was shipped to New Orleans,
intended for the New Orleans Railway but the money could not be found to pay for it and it was duly returned. But why The North Star when it was so far from the station? Maybe the link is Joseph Wisden, a former guard on the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway, who built the pub in the late 1860s with steam still running through his veins. The Walk Distance 4½ miles Time 2 hours, excluding stops Profile Undulating – highest point Old Roar Ghyll – 72 metres Note that the narrow paths to Old Roar Ghyll are rough and uneven and even in summer can be wet and slippy. Shoes with a good grip are recommended, rather than smooth soles, and perhaps boots in winter or when there are more difficult conditions underfoot. The walk starts at the main entrance to the park at the corner of Bethune Way, St Helen’s Road and Queen’s Road close to the traffic island. From the city centre walk along Queen’s Road and under the grand railway bridge or catch the bus from Hastings Station or Priory Meadow (to check services visit: www.stagecoachbus.com/plan-a-journey) and ask to alight at Morrison’s for the short walk up to the Park entrance. The first section is up to Old Roar Ghyll and you should allow say 60 minutes. The second section to The North Star will take roughly 30 minutes as does the final walk back to the gates. Continued at Page 18
Walk 3 Horse and Groom and Burton St Leonards Posh St Leonards, still full of Victorian and Edwardian grandeur. Those dreams that occupied the rich and famous have been largely replaced by a more pragmatic approach to urban living. The big houses still command Burton St Leonards but many have been converted to flats. The little terraced cottages, that housed the tradesmen and the washerwomen, now possess a chic that is more appealing and far more affordable. Burton St Leonards was the first new seaside resort for the wealthy and became instantly popular with royalty and aristocracy. There were service areas for the new town; Mercatoria for shopping, and Lavatoria for laundry, It was said ‘We should look in vain on any other coast in England for such a range of buildings as those he (James Burton) has raised below St Leonards Cliff; of a superior order, though not so ornamented as some of his previous structures. None but the unrivalled crescents of Bath and Bristol is superior to the Marina of St Leonards’. (Spas of England and Principal Sea-Bathing Places A.B. Granville, 1841).’ ‘The Horse and Groom was St Leonards’ first pub. It was built and licensed in 1829 for the benefit of the workforce busy constructing the new town of St Leonards. It is on record that they were so thirsty that the pub opened before the windows were installed. Workers also came to the Horse and Groom on Saturday nights to be paid their wages and were called in from the street one by one. They came again on Sundays to quench another thirst, this time to listen to the newspapers being read aloud. Edward Thebay was ‘Sunday reader’ at the Horse and Groom for many years. (Hastings Pub History). Thirsty workers/walkers still visit The Horse and Groom. Warm and friendly, the two rooms are separated by a horseshoe bar and a back room for larger groups. The beers, Harvey’s Best and one or two guests, are always good and you get the feeling of a proper pub with no taped music, no food (just cobs on the bar, if you are lucky) and eclectic decoration. A quiet, atmospheric, dog friendly pub where you can enjoy good conversation and when I visited, the guests were Young’s Winterwarmer, Longman Long Blade and a fine Green King Abbot that slipped down a treat. Continued at Page 24
Walk 4 The Plough, Hastings Castle, George Street and The Albion With Hastings Castle still dominating the town, any book of Hastings walks should include a trip to visit a castle that is so steeped in the history of England. It was the Norman Conquest in 1066 that thrust West Hill into the limelight and there is still enough left, after the ravages of nature, to fuel the imagination helped by the excellent story boards and the audio-visual programme that covers the Conquest and the history of the castle through the centuries. There is a short climb up steps but to add to the fun, the West Hill Lift, with its original wooden Victorian coaches, will whisk you up to the top where, on a clear day, you may be able see the coast of France. Closer are the old narrow streets and rooftops of Old Town, the fishing beach and views of the whole of Hastings and St Leonards and in the distance, are the South Downs, Eastbourne and Beachy Head. The grassy West Hill is a delight and the short walk to The Plough for a beer, before tackling the easier downhill part of the walk to the finish at The Royal Albion. Timeless Old Town, a walk of narrow streets, alleyways, steps this way and that, of Smuggler’s Caves and Foyles War – it is such a mix of back streets, cottages and tiny gardens of pots and troughs that it is almost a surprise that George Street appears below. There are pubs and bars galore along George Street and most warrant a pint or a note in that beer stained note book to return another day. The Plough is a curious Dutch styled pub that first opened as a beer house in 1835 before West Hill was developed in the 1870s. It stood in Mill Field with four windmills close by and even one in the Plough’s back garden, which may account for the barn style design. The last of the windmills was demolished in1874. The Plough is an intimate, cosy, warm and welcoming one roomed community pub. Continued at Page 38
Pub Notes Information about the pubs, beers, contact details and opening hours are shown on the CAMRA WhatPub web site at: www.whatpub.com Beer Notes (as at December 2016) Ashdown Ales’ Blue Sky 4% Best Bitter Bedlam Benchmark A very good 4% amber coloured bitter from a great brewery. Courage Best The name brings back old memories of London, now a 4% bitter with a little depth that sets it above the Young’s Best for me. Dark Star Hop Head At 3.8%, Hophead is full-bodied and full-flavoured brewed in Sussex. A good session beer. Dark Star Sunburst 4.8% A hint of initial sweetness adds to the fruitiness and grapefruit tang of this summer ale without detracting from its clean flavour and rich hop aroma. Franciscan Well Chieftain You need to be a little discerning to drink this very palatable Irish IPA with a fresh and slightly bitter taste. At 5.5%, it slips down a treat – good job there is the bus home. Franklins Brewery St Leonard 3.8% bitter with real depth of flavour. A superb beer brewed locally in Bexhill on Sea. Franklins Brewery Greedy Guvnor 4.5% smooth ruby with some life to lift the taste from the ordinary. Fuller’s ESB A smooth 5% bitter that slips down too easily – good job it is a walk! Green King Abbot As per Fuller’s ESB Harvey’s 1872 Hastings Pier For something a little different, forgo the Harvey’s Best for a bottle of Pier Beer, specially brewed for Hastings Pier by Harvey’s but with different notes. This Blonde Beer is, at 3.7%, a light, refreshing citrussy beer that develops a depth of taste further down the glass – an ideal pier beer. Harvey’s Best This is a full bodied brown bitter with plenty of hops that reminds me of the beers I drank in my youth in Nottingham. It has a good aftertaste
although at 4% it is a little stronger than those session beers beloved post rugby. Harvey’s Old Ale A “Winter Warmer” and at 4.3% is more palatable than some. Won World’s Best Mild at the World Beer Awards in 2015 Hogsback T.E.A. A traditional copper coloured best bitter 4.2% Isfield Brewing Company’s Ethel Red A 4.4% Ruby Ale from Isfield East Sussex; smooth, hoppy, malty Jennings Cumberland A full flavoured 4%, supposedly pale ale, which to me tasted a little dark, heavy and bitter. Longman Best A traditional Sussex bitter 4% Longman Long Blonde A crisp, light coloured golden ale 3.8% Sharp’s Doom Bar A multi award winning Amber Ale, enjoyed by the majority but for me it has now lost that taste of Cornwall. Three Legs Dark A 4.5%stout style beer Timothy Taylor’s Landlord It was an epiphany for me, drinking that first pint of Tims in The Eagle in Boston some 30 years ago. Smitten then and smitten now. It is a 4.3% classic pale ale Wychwood Brewery’s Gold Hobgoblin A 4.2% golden beer Wychwood Brewery’s Hobgoblin Strong full bodied dark (ruby) beer 5.2% Wickwar Wessex Brewing Company’s Falling Star. Another golden beer, described by the company as ‘a golden artisan ale’. At 4.2%, I did find it slightly sharp and refreshing. Weston’s Old Rosie Cloudy Cider. 7.3% - need I say more!! Young’s Bitter Easy drinking session beer, 3.7% Young’s Special Award winning (2002 & 2004) bitter, 4.5%. A former London classic that, 40 years ago, I felt was rather ‘special’ for the couple of years I lived in London. Young’s Winterwarmer It’s all in the name but not as strong as some at 5.2%. a darker bitter.
About the Author David lives in St Leonards on Sea, East Sussex, and walks, talks and writes about walking, local history and all things 1066. He is a member of the Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild and considers that his membership of CAMRA, The Inn Sign Society, The Ramblers and the Long Distance Walkers Association to be a perfect match for walking. He is the author and creator of 1066 Harold’s Way, a 100mile long distance walk inspired by King Harold’s epic march to the Battle of Hastings, 1066. History Walks around 1066 Country 1. A Green St Leonards on Sea Walk 2. Battle Circular Walks 3. 1066 Bodiam Castle to Battle Abbey 4. Hastings to Rye 5. Secret St Leonards Walking Trail 6. Pub Walks in Hastings and St Leonards 7. 1066 William’s Way, Hastings to Battle 8. Rock a Nore to De La Warr 9. Pub Walks in 1066 Country 10. A Walk around Rye 11. A Walk around Winchelsea 12. More Walks around Rye Long Distance Walks 1. 1066 Harold’s Way 2. Three Castles and an Ironmaster’s House Books 1. The Saxon Times
History Walks No.6 2. Pub Walks in Hastings and St Leonards I want to tempt you with some short but exhilarating walks, a wealth of fascinating local history, good pubs and of course, good beer. But to discover Hastings and St Leonards’ best beers you will need to strike out beyond the prom - and take a brave step that often defeats many visitors, and even many residents, by visiting places that are not on the usual tourist trails. Here is a selection of five Pub walks that encourage you to explore another side to Hastings and St Leonards and in the process, discover some tremendous urban trails. I am not claiming they are the best pubs but they are ones that I enjoy, chosen for their location, beer and conviviality and the opportunity to walk, to explore and discover this exceptional town. In these Five Pub Walks, it is the walk that takes pride of place and that welcome pint in that friendly pub is the reward for all your effort. ‘Pub Walks in Hastings & St Leonards’ is published by History Walks, Enjoy the experience. Marine Court, St Leonards on Sea www.1066haroldsway.co.uk and printed by Instant Print www.instantprint.co.uk Take your time and embrace the history. October 2016, Feb 2018 £3.99
For more information about this book and other walks in the series of ‘Short Walks in 1066 Country’, visit History Walks Books and Talks: www.1066haroldsway.co.uk History Walks books are available by mail order from History Walks and from the following stockists: Hastings • Hastings Tourist Information, Muriel Matters House • Old Hastings Preservation Society, History House, Courthouse Street • Hastings Fishermen's Museum, Rock-a-Nore, St Leonards on Sea • The Bookkeeper, 1A Kings Road • Studio 4 Frames, Marine Court Rye • Rye Heritage Centre • Adams of Rye, 8 High Street Battle • British Design British Made, High Street • AHA Stationers, Mount Street Bexhill • De La Warr Pavillion • Bexhill Museum
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