Hastings: The Rise of a Romantic Resort

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This research demonstrates that the rise of Hastings as a resort in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century can be linked to the rise of Romanticism. Seaside resorts emerged as distinct sites of leisure for primarily medicinal benefit from the 1730s however during the Romantic period it is possible to map out a shift in motivation for travel in tune with Romantic sensibilities. Romantic aesthetic standards such as the sublime and the picturesque are examined and then traced in the promotion of Hastings as a seaside resort through guidebooks, periodicals and newspapers from 1789-1837, before turning to Hastings Castle as a case study. Hastings Castle functioned as a site of artistic and poetic inspiration during the Romantic period due to its aesthetic qualities, but also due its connection with the Battle of Hastings, providing a unique focal point for the development of English national identity. In the early 1820s parts of Hastings Castle and the surrounding cliff were paired back in order to build Pelham Crescent, and in the process various items of antiquarian interest were unearthed prompting the landowner Thomas Pelham, Second Earl of Chichester to commission an archaeological excavation of the castle site. The significance of the 1824 archaeological excavation is considered to explore the seemingly paradoxical destruction of parts of the castle and cliff to make way for residential and commercial development, while simultaneously charging admission to the castle making it a de facto early heritage attraction. This is considered alongside the development of national identities in the eighteenth and nineteenth century arguing that Hastings Castle functions as a site of special interest for national identity development amongst tourists.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEdith (The Chronicles)
EditorsAndrew Kötting
Place of PublicationHastings
PublisherBadblood and Sybil
ISBN (Print)9780956873347
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Published as part of a commission for the ‘Root 1066’ festival, commemorating the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings.


  • Heritage
  • Heritage Tourism
  • romanticism
  • Hastings Castle
  • Battle of Hastings
  • National identity
  • aesthetics


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