HASTINGS is a large borough, market town, bathing-place, and railway station on the seacoast, near the eastern extremity of Sussex, and is the chief town of the rape which takes its name: it is in the diocese of Chichester, archdeaconry of Lewes, and deanery of Hastings, situated in 50° 34' N. lat., and 0° 37' E. long; distant from London about 63 miles by road and 74 by railway, through Lewes or Tunbridge Wells; but by a railway now in progress, connecting London with Tunbridge in a direct line through Sevenoaks, it will he only 62 miles from London. It has a separate court of quarter sessions, is the chief of the Cinque ports, and constitutes, with the following 13 parishes, the Hastings Poor Law Union, viz.:- All Saints, Fairlight, Guestling, Holy Trinity (or Priory), Ore, Pett, St. Andrew, St. Clement, St. Leonard, St. Mary Bulverhithe, St. Mary-in-the-Castle, St. Mary Magdalen, and St. Michael-on-the-Rock. The union House is in the adjoining parish of Ore, and will contain about 200 inmates.
Hastings returns two members to Parliament, and is a polling place for East Sussex: it consists of the towns of Hastings and St. Leonard's-on-Sea, and comprises a frontage towards the sea of 2 miles, exclusive of the liberty of Bexhill, and about a mile and a half in depth at the widest part, and an area of about 2,650 acres.
The old town of Hastings is situated in a valley between two high hills, and the new part runs along the sea-shore, at the base of a range of steep hills, which protect it in a considerable degree from the north and north-east winds: during the winter as well as in the summer, it is a place of great resort for invalids, and is much frequented by visitors for sea bathing and the beauty of its scenery. The fishery is large and increasing; it occupies 150 boats, averaging about 12 tons each, but varying from 5 to 30 tons each. The town is governed by a mayor, six aldermen, and eighteen councillors. Petty and special sessions for the Hastings district of the county are held here, and a county court. The old town of Hastings, which lies in the valley, has a population of about 8,000 persons, and contains the houses of many of the principal resident families: it was the chief seat of trade, which is now, however, more dispersed over the town. Towards the westward the houses are principally built for visitors, with more regularity; and still further westward, leading to St. Leonard's, large and handsome rows of houses have been built. Another large series of improvements has been carried out on the Crown lands facing the sea, in the Holy Trinity parish, where a great number of elegant houses have been built, and an hotel, with 200 rooms, has been built and called 'The Queen's Hotel.'
Fuller description [Kelly's Post Office Directory of Essex, Herts, Middlesex, Kent, Surrey and Sussex, 1867.]