Hastings began as a Saxon settlement. It was called Haesta ingas, which means Haesta's people. By the 10th century Hastings had grown into a little market town. It even had its own mint.
However Hastings was very small with a population of only several hundred. In 1011 the Danes sacked Hastings but it soon recovered. From the 11th century Hastings was one of the Cinque ports, a group of 5 ports who were supposed to provide ships for the king in time of war in time of war in return for certain privileges. However this custom died out in the 15th century and a more modern navy was formed.
HASTINGS IN THE MIDDLE AGES
After the Norman Conquest in 1066 a castle was built at Hastings. At first it was built of wood but it was soon rebuilt in stone. However by the 15th century Hastings castle had fallen into a state of disrepair.
St Clement's Church was built in the late 14th century. All Saints Church was built in the 15th century. From the end of the 12th century Hastings had a priory (a small abbey).
Medieval Hastings flourished as a fishing settlement and a small market town. Fishermen from Hastings fished in the North Sea off East Anglia and they sold much of their catch in Great Yarmouth. However Hastings failed to develop into a major port because the harbour silted up. Hastings also suffered from floods.
In 1339 and 1377 Hastings suffered disaster when it was attacked by the French and burned. That was an easy task as most of the buildings were of wood with thatched roofs. However they could be easily built.
A stone wall was built south of Hastings, probably in the late 14th century to protect the town from attack from the sea. However by the 18th century this wall had fallen into ruins.