Brassey Institute

From Historical Hastings

Brassey Institute
General information
Address13 Claremont
Postal CodeTN34 1HE
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Named forBrassey
Admin. Information
Electoral/Planning WardCASTLE Pre May 2018
Prop. Ref. No.100062570460
Listed Building
H.E. Ref. No.1043388

The Brassey Institute at 13, Claremont is built on the site of an old stone masons yard that stood at the foot of St. Michael's Rock (as the White Rock headland used to be known).[1] The institute was founded by the Brassey family between 1878-1881 and provided for the study of arts and the sciences with the Hastings Museum being based here at the latters foundation, operating under the full name of 'The Brassey School of Science and Art', with a chemistry laboratory operating out of George Street by 1900[2] The town library now operates out of the ​building​.


In style, the ​building​ is a classic example of decorative Venetian Gothic architecture. The design was carried out by Walter Liberty Vernon for Thomas Brassey during his period as MP for Hastings and built in 1878.[3]

Building usage

Originally the reference library was on the ground floor with an assembly room on the first floor and space for a school of art and science provided on the upper floors. The Hastings Rowing Club was located in the basement and the ​building​ also incorporated a suite of rooms for the proprietor.[3]


The ​building​ formally opened in 1881 when Lord Brassey opened a free public library and museum within the ​building​ on the 15th of January, donating ownership of the whole ​building​ together with the School of Art to Hastings Council in 1887.[3]By 1933, the Institute stocked 11,000 volumes in addition to a museum devoted to natural history, archaeology and local art.[4]

1990 Refurbishment

The library was closed for a fortnight from the 29th of October 1990 for a £571,000 refurbishment.

1992 Refurbishment

During 1992, the library underwent a £700,000 refurbishment, re-opening in March.

2016 Refurbishment

Due to a lack of adequate maintenance over the previous 100 years or so, it became apparent that the ​building​ required a major refurbishment costing over £9.5 million around 2016. Due to the ​building​s listed status, any repairs had to be carried out in an age-appropriate style of finish and materials. As the paint was stripped back from the facade, it was discovered that the underlying stonework was more severely damaged than initially thought. Much of the front of the ​building​ needed extensive repair and rework to restore its integrity. The works lasted for two years and the refurbished ​building​ re-opened to the public in 2018.[5][6]

2020 Coronavirus Closure

In common with many public ​building​s, the library closed on the 17th March 2020 due to the Coronavirus Outbreak


Grade II Listed (Historic England listing 1043388)

References & Notes

  1. Hastings of Bygone Days and the Present (Henry Cousins - 1911) pg.341 ISBN: 9789332862449 ESCC Library Google Books " Amazon
  2. Hastings & St Leonards Observer 22 September 1900 pg. 7
  3. a b c History of The Brassey Institute & Hastings Library in Hastings, East Sussex, UK: History of The Brassey Institute & Hastings Library in Hastings, East Sussex, UK, accessdate: 24 November 2019
  4. The Libraries, Museums and Art Galleries Year Book. J. Clarke. 1933.
  5. Hastings Independent Press: Welcome back to the Brassey Institute, accessdate: 24 November 2019
  6. Revamped Hastings library to open doors to the public in March | Hastings and St. Leonards Observer, accessdate: 16 February 2020