Hidden in the heart of Hastings in East Sussex, this characterful two-bedroom cottage lies directly beneath the town’s eponymous castle. A nautical theme pervades throughout the house – a testament to its past as a fisherman’s house. Open-plan living spaces create a bright yet intimate atmosphere, while a terrace catches the East Sussex sun and provides ample space to admire the sea views. The house’s strong connection to the past is emphasised by a cave dug into the cliff face, which could be used as a naturally insulated cellar.
Setting the Scene
Built in 1784 as a house for the local fishermen, the cottage is just minutes from the beach, meaning the house has a gentle sea breeze that can be best experienced from the roof terrace that looks out over the coast. Access is via a hidden side alley (known locally as a ‘twitten’) that leads from the gravelled lane with unrivalled sea views down towards the house’s white timber façade. For more information, please see the History section below.
The Grand Tour
The sunflower-yellow, latched door opens directly into the open-plan living and dining space. Wood panelled floors are set against strong white stone walls with timber detailing, which blend with the built-in shelving in the room. Two south-facing sash windows allow ample sunlight to flood the room, while an exposed brick fireplace is fitted with a wood-burning stove.
Glass-panelled double doors lead through to the kitchen, where the nautical yet rustic feel pervades. Brickwork and the beamed ceiling have been painted white to accentuate the natural light that bathes the room. Colouristic contrasts in the form of wooden worksurfaces, terracotta tiling and a portion of the cliff face, left exposed, add a grounding element.
A utility room provides additional space, but the defining characteristic is arguably the cave which leads directly from the kitchen. Dug directly into the cliff, it is reinforced with brickwork that contrasts with the pure white of the kitchen; it can also function as a cellar or be developed into an additional dining area.
From the central reception room, an exposed wooden staircase leads to the two bedrooms. In one, the defining feature is the now-decorative brickwork fireplace, which complements the character of the wood-panelled flooring. The other bedroom has a terrace that leads directly from the bedroom, a natural extension of the interior space.
The green and blue tiled bathroom, equipped with a bath and an overhead shower, is situated on the ground floor.
The Great Outdoors
The cottage’s hidden position means it is nestled in incredibly peaceful surroundings, apparent from its wooden terrace. Backed on one side by the cliff and the other by the house’s timber façade, it has ample room for a dining table for eating alfresco in the summer or from where to admire the views. It also has the potential to develop a potted garden.
Out and About
Castle Cliff Road is situated between Hastings and its Old Town. The latter benefits from direct train links to London (journey time to London Bridge is one hour and 20 minutes and to Charing Cross is one hour and 30 minutes).
To the east, the Old Town is home to a thriving cultural, retail and gastronomic scene. Among the finest of the town’s eateries and pubs are The Crown, The Albion and The Rock A Nore Kitchen, all of which specialise in locally sourced and seasonal cuisine, while Maggie’s Fish and Chips is a local stalwart. On the High Street, Judges Bakery (founded 1826) and Penbuckles delicatessen are perfect community food shops, while the family-run Rock-a-Nore Fisheries, on the seafront, smokes local fish on-site.
The Old Town is full of antique markets and independent retailers who tap into the antiquarian visual aesthetic. Some of the most respected are Made in Hastings, Hastings Antiques Warehouse, AG Hendy & Co, Warp and Weft and Ode Interiors. Art galleries are likewise abundant. The most significant is perhaps Hastings Contemporary (formerly the Jerwood Gallery) by HAT Projects, though there are others of note, including The Rebel Gallery, Lucy Bell Fine Art and The Memorial Gallery.
Council Tax Band: A
The origins of Hastings as a settlement can be traced back to the Bronze Age, with its strategic maritime position ensuring its importance to invading armies. The most famous of these was the Norman Conquest of 1066, which saw the construction of Hastings Castle on the elevated sandstone cliff above the port.
Hastings was subsequently recognised as one of the Cinque Ports, but the town and the castle fell into disrepair following devastating floods and raids by the French in the 13th and 14th centuries, respectively.
By the 16th century, Hastings had acquired a new guise as a small fishing settlement with a backstory as a smugglers’ haven. The soft sandstone cliffs underneath the ruins of Hastings Castle were perfect for excavating a system of caves and tunnels for storing goods. The most famous of these is St Clements Caves (the earliest reference about this cave dates to 1784). However, others can be found in private houses like the one here.
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