Hastings has had four town halls, across three different sites.
The original Court Hall stood in the centre of the Old Town near to the Bourne Stream during the early 17thC and the location is carried forward to this day in the naming of Courthouse Street. This building was an upper chamber over two shops, but little more is known other than it had a loft to store gunpowder. This was subsequently replaced by the Old Town Hall in the High Street.
The current Hastings Town Hall was built in 1880 to a design by Henry Ward (1854-1927) on the site of what was a stoneyard . It was made in an Early English style, making clever use of an awkward triangular site facing onto Queens Road and is a Grade II Listed (Historic England listing 1245060). On the east front are a series of sculpted panels by a Mr. Earp depicting the following; Arms of the Cinque Ports, the Building of Hastings Castle, the Battle of Hastings, in which King Harold appears drawing the arrow from his eye; the Cinque Ports Barons Bearing the Canopy at the Coronation, 1264; the Landing and Defeat of the French, 1363; Queen Elizabeth granting the Corporation Charter; the Ships of the Cinque Ports going to meet the Armada ; and the Hastings Fishermen Boarding the French Pirates, 1796.
The original design of the building incorporated a police station on the Station Road side, offices both for police business and council business and two large meeting rooms; one to be utilised as a police court and the other for the council chamber. The council chamber was on the north side of the building and features stained glass windows bearing the arms of Montgomery, Albine, Plantagenet, Fitzalan, Radcliffe, Savile, Leonard, and Yelverton, who were Sussex peers, the arms of the Royal Duke of Sussex, and those of the see of Chichester. The entrance doors onto Queens Road were replaced in 2002
The opening ceremony took place about one o’clock on the 3rd of September 1881 in the Council Chamber. The Mayor of Hastings, Mr. Alderman Gausden, entered the room in his robes, accompanied by Mr. Gregory, M.P., Sir Edward Watkin, Chairman of the South-Eastern Railway, Mr. John Shaw, Mr. Myles Fenton, and Mr. J. P. Knight, Traffic Manager of the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway, and Mr. Alderman Winter, Deputy Mayor. Many of the local clergy, gentry, and tradesmen were present. The Mayor began the proceedings by a speech referring to the past history of the borough. "The old Town-hall in the High Street," he said, "was built in 1825, when the population was only six thousand, while now the population was over forty-two thousand." The party afterwards proceeded to the adjacent recreation ground, where a large marquee had been erected for the accommodation of the. visitors and guests. Here luncheon was provided for about 350 persons with The Mayor presiding.
References & Notes
- Historic Hastings, J. Manwaring Baines pg. 55 ISBN: 0948869003 ISBN: 9780948869006 Amazon
- British Newspaper Archive Hastings & St. Leonards Observer 16 September 1905 Pg. 0002
- British Newspaper Archive Illustrated London News 17 September 1881 Pg. 0019
- Hastings Borough Council Planning application ref HS/LB/01/00768