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Hastings, St Leonards,
Rye & Lewes




Palmerston, 39 Queen’s Road (now 75)

Formerly the Cottage or Cottage of Content beer house from at least 1867 when the licensee was John Adams.

In 1878 the landlord, John Abraham Maplesden, was summonsed for having within his possession a drum which was the property of the Rifle Corps whose Drill Hall was in nearby Middle Street. The bandmaster left the drum with the landlord in lieu of payment for a room with refreshments and beer hired by the band. Maplesden agreed to give up the drum if it was sent for by an officer but hoped he would get the 6s [30p] owed to him for the room, food and beer.

Maplesden seems to have allowed a lot of credit as the following year in 1879 he  had to claim £1 for accommodation and refreshments owed to him by a trapeze artist from Percy Williams Circus then performing at the Central Cricket Ground.

In 1890 the Palmerston hosted a ‘Smoking Concert’ in its ‘large room’ for Harry Hutchins who ran the 10 miles from the Albert Memorial to the Bell Hotel, Bexhill in 58 minutes.

In 1933 the chief constable described the pub as a small house with entrances at the front and the back. The back entrance was described as unfavourable for police supervision and was the reason given for closure. The licensee was compensated to the sum of £2,250. It is now the Muktha Tandoori Restaurant.

Pelican, 20 East Parade, 1830s–1935

                                                           Rising Sun in 2012 - photo by David Witcombe

Robin Hood, 13 North Street

In 1855 there was a report of a North Street licensee, James Colvin, being fined for allowing dancing after 11pm on a Sunday. His name is not known in connection with any other North Street licensed premises, so he was probably licensee of the Robin Hood.

In 1862 a ‘Mr Windsor, occupier of the Robin Hood beer house in North Street’ applied for a full licence but was refused. The house did not offer accommodation but it had a cellar, two kitchens, a bar, two parlours, a taproom and four bedrooms.

By 1865 landlord William Harden, who had a second occupation as a ‘carman’, was described as ‘recently removed from the pub‘. He summonsed a person whom he had contracted to store some of the pub equipment for him including ‘beer cans, several pewter measures, a beer engine and some lead pipe’. The accused sold some of the equipment to John Woodhurst, landlord of the Old King John, Ore, without permission. We can only assume that this was when the pub closed.

The Street Directories for 1886–1899 list North Cottages, a twitten with two cottages between numbers 12 and 13. In 1890 number 13 was a laundry. In 1897 number 13 is not listed but between numbers 12 and 14 the twitten was renamed as Valentine’s Cottages. Number 13 was probably one or both of the ‘cottages’ in the twitten today known as North Terrace.

Rose and Crown, George Street

The Rose and Crown existed from 1753–1833 when local shipbuilders held ‘Settling’ dinners here where their annual accounts were agreed and celebrated. In the latter year the pub was demolished to make way for a new fish market.

The fish market later became the Assembly Room and was leased by Charles West of the Anchor next door who hosted numerous largely attended dinners of the Anchor branch of the Oddfellows here.

The building was also a major meeting place throughout the 19th century for several organisations. Large meetings of suffragettes, unemployed campaigners and the Temperance movement are recorded. It is now known as the Black Market.

Royal Oak, Oak Passage, High Street

Named after the Boscobel tree, which gave shelter to Charles II after the battle of Worcester in 1651. In 1666 Edward Cooper, the landlord, was sent to gaol for keeping a disorderly house and for being drunk himself.

The premises were rebuilt and became the Hastings Free Dispensary in 1830. The inscription on the face of the building can identify it.

Royal Oak Hotel, Castle Street

The Royal Oak Hotel was first licensed in 1831, if not earlier. The premises were the headquarters of an early Hastings Cycling Club in the mid-19th century.

The Acorn Club, a charity, also had its headquarters here and like the Winkle Club, members were required to carry an acorn at all times, or pay a fine to the charity.

The Royal Oak was bombed in the Second World War and never reopened. Its licence was transferred to the Hollington Oak, a new pub in Wishing Tree Road in 1950. The ruins from this war damage were cleared in 1957.

Warrior’s Arms, Norman Road, 1878 –1905

Not to be confused with the Warrior’s Gate the Warrior’s Arms opened in 1878 as a beer house next door to the Norman Hotel. The police once described it as a bar frequented by ‘undesirable, loose and idle people who generally stand at street corners’.

It was popular with excursionists, ie day-trippers to St Leonards who, during the summer months came for lunch. It was one of five Hastings pubs made redundant in 1905. It is now the coin shop.

White Hart, Norman Road

The White Hart grew from a simple beer shop in 1856 and probably before. A full licence was applied for at least three times and was finally granted in 1868. The application was supported by a petition signed by some ‘influential residents’ including one ‘Mr Smith of the Temperance Society’, who emphasised the adjacent passage leading up from Grand Parade. The first landlord was Charles Foord who stayed for 30 years until 1888.

On a Sunday morning in 1872 a police constable spotted a woman coming out of the side door with a jug of porter under her shawl, which she was carrying home. Harriet Landale of 27 Norman Road was fined 5s plus costs for buying beer out of hours but the landlord Charles Foord was only cautioned.

In the 1870s Klee’s German Band used to play here. One evening an argument broke out over what music to play and two musicians, Joseph Castleani and Joseph Muller, started fighting. They were charged and in court told to make it up. “No my boy, said Muller, I have more marks than you.” German bands were popular in St Leonards and often heard playing on the Marina and Grand Parade.

From 1905 to 1914 the White Hart was run by landlady Mrs Young and in 1915 the licence was transferred from  A Lucina to William Rayner. During these years it had three small bars.

In the 1920s it was tied to Leney’s Brewery of Lamberhurst and was the only Leney’s pub in St Leonards but was a free house for wines and spirits. In 1923 Elvey Thomas, formerly the licensee and manager of the St Leonards Pier for  20 years, took it over. During the First World War he became a special constable and then joined the Navy. He stayed at the White Hart for 30 years.

During his time as landlord the pub tended towards the middle-classes of St Leonards. It was a small, comfortable house where the customers found some peace and comfort. It was a pub with a better class of beer catering for trades’ people, commercial travellers and summer visitors.

When the Marine Court restaurant opened in 1936 and was granted a licence, the White Hart and several other local pubs opposed it.

By the 1950s the White Hart’s trade was in decline. Most of the customers were friends of Elvey Thomas. Under his management there was no singing, dancing or darts just conversation and good beer. It was declared redundant and closed in 1953. It is now a private house owned by the proprietors of Hastings Antiques.

White Hart, All Saints Street

An inn which existed from 1650 until 1765 at least.

White Lion, Dorset Place

The White Lion opened in 1866 to serve the employees of a nearby slaughterhouse. In 1871 Mrs Perigo, the licensee, was cautioned for ‘permitting prostitutes to assemble in her house’. She pleaded with magistrates not to remove her licence but was refused.

The White Lion was situated about 70 yards from the Dripping Well and the Tubman (then the Carpenters). The landlord was summonsed again in 1874 for harbouring prostitutes and yet again in 1892 for ‘raffling’, ie a means of deciding who paid for the beer by tossing a coin from a raffle cup. The police classed the practice as a form of gambling even though it was only for beer.

It had eight landlords in the eight years prior to closing in 1909.

Whitefriars, 127 Priory Road

The Whitefriars was on the ground floor of a large building with apartments above. It opened in 1876. When the licensee died in 1934 his widow was effected by a tenancy clause, which allowed her only 14 days to vacate the premises. On appeal ‘this unfair clause’ was repealed by the magistrates and she was granted longer.

It was used by teachers from the Priory Road Schools in the 1970s and is remembered for its dart teams. One ex-customer described the pub as in the darts super league. It closed in 2008.

Wishing Tree, Wishing Tree Road

See the Pubs of Hastings & St Leonards for full history.

Pelican in 2009

Prince Albert, 33 North Street

In 1855 this premises was a greengrocers. Ten years later it had become a simple beer house on the corner of Union Street and North Street, opposite the British Queen (the recently closed Fox).

In 1899 it was the meeting place of the St Leonards branch of the National Union of Operative Bakers who campaigned for better wages and conditions. They ‘were not satisfied with a shilling and a bag of buns’.

In the same year the first annual dinner of the St Leonards branch of the Equitable Friendly Society was held here, the first local branch to be formed in Hastings.

In 1900 the pub held a ‘Smoker’ or smoking concert, for Percy Workman, a soldier in the Coldstream Guards. A watch made by Mr R Mumford, a jeweller of North Street, was inscribed ‘Presented to Percy Workman by a few of his admirers on his return from the South African war at the Prince Albert, St Leonards, 4th July 1900’. The musical programme that followed, was reported as: ‘far above the average’.

In 1908 the Prince Albert slate club was described as a ‘highly prosperous and successful institution’ and paid out the then very large sum of £1.14s to each of 15 members.

In 1916 the barman, Joseph Deeprose, attempted suicide, probably because he was required to attend the Hastings Military Tribunal and feared being sent to the war zone. Instead he spent a long period in the local infirmary.

The pub became redundant and closed in 1921. Afterwards it became an antique shop and is now a listed private house.

Prince Alfred, South Street

A beer house from 1834 located at what is now the Crystal Square car park. By 1850 it was known as The Plasterer’s Arms and in the 1860s there were applications for a full licence. This was opposed by the freeholder, who also owned the Old England Tavern on the adjacent corner. He claimed that a fully licensed neighbour would effect the trade of the Old England. “If this licence is granted”, he said, “the Old England will become a gin shop”. A full licence was finally granted in 1864.

In 1866 the licence was held by James Ranger a blacksmith, and in 1872 it passed to his widow Ann Ranger. His debts were handled by Thomas Dearing, a bailee, who persuaded the creditors to accept 12s 6d in the pound. When Anne Ranger handed over £110 for payment, he absconded to America.

A branch of the Odd Fellows Friendly Society operated from the Plasterer’s in the 1870s with 230 members. They met every Tuesday evening and paid in a 1p a week or drew benefits accordingly.

About 1870 the Plasterers Arms changed its name to the Prince Alfred. It was during this time that the custom of ‘tossing for ale’ was common but sometimes got out of hand and led to trouble.

Many years later the son of a previous landlord who lived there in the 1880s, claimed that the Prince Alfred was ‘a five o’clock house, opening at that very early hour in the morning for workmen who liked a drink before they started their day’s labour’. However, this was unlikely as pub hours were restricted after the licensing Act of 1872.

From 1880 until 1923 when it became redundant, it had 19 landlords.

Prince of Wales, Bohemia, 1864–1971

In 1872 this pub was the location of a coroner’s inquest into a ‘shocking suicide’ of a 40-year-old gardener called William Tendall. His wife found him hanging from the bed post by a piece of clothes line. His hands were warm but his face was black. Their 11 year old son ‘a little boy’, was called as a witness. His father had said to him: “Goodbye, I shall be missing when you come home from school, be a good boy to your mother and go to school.” The inquest found he had ‘committed suicide whilst in a state of temporary insanity due to drink’. He is buried in Bohemia cemetery. (Where is it?)

During the Second World War the pub was run by Roland ‘Jack’ Berwick and Maggie May Berwick. Jack worked as a ‘gentleman’s gentleman’ for a millionaire before the war and ran the pub from 1944 until his death in 1946. His widow Maggie May Berwick then ran the Prince of Wales until 1948.

At the end of the war the Prince of Wales had returning prisoners of war among its customers and this is where Jack’s daughter Lena met her future husband Norman. The family now live in Silverhill.

The last landlord of the Prince of Wales was Arthur Tribbeck (1960-1971). When he retired to Brighton in 1971 the pub closed and sometime after became an Antiques Centre.  In April 1994 the building became the headquarters of the local Labour Party which it still is. The opening ceremony was reported in the Hastings & St Leonards Observer and included the erroneous claim that the pub was at one time run by ‘the parents of Gwen Watford the actress’ and also that she lived here in her early years.

This claim is incorrect. Her father was indeed a publican but ran the Bohemia Arms (1931-1955) two doors away from the Prince of Wales. I am indebted to David Silverstone of Markwick Terrace and Vic Charlcraft of Bohemia for querying this point. (See Oral History section).

Prince of Wales, Pelham Street

In the 1870s the landlord was fined £2 for not admitting the police who suspected after hours drinking. In 1878 he was charged for selling spirits without a spirit licence. The main witness who had ‘taken a bed, played cards and drank rum’ there, turned out to be employed by an enquiry agent contracted by the Hastings Licensed Victuallers Association. The case was dismissed. In 1891 the landlord was summonsed for out of hours drinking on Sundays and in 1902 the pub was described as a brothel and the licence was forfeited.

Prince of Wales, 1 Waterloo Passage

See The Pubs of Hastings & St Leonards

Privateer, Wellington Mews, 1840s–1917

See The Pubs of Hastings & St Leonards third edition


Railway, 1 Havelock Road

First licensed in 1857 along with the Old Golden Cross on the adjacent corner, when this end of the road was first developed. Situated at the top of Havelock Road it was known as the Railway Hotel or Green’s Railway Hotel for much of the next century.

In 1860 Elizabeth Green was fined for serving out of hours. At this time pubs, particularly railway pubs, were allowed to serve ‘bona fide travellers’ at any time but locals took advantage of this stupidity in the law. Elizabeth Green complained that she was expected to ‘recognise local customers from travellers’. At a later date ‘travellers’ were only served if they had a rail ticket.

The Hastings branch of the National Union of Railwaymen met here in the 1930s and in 1931 Arthur Mitchell, the licensee, was charged with serving ‘afters’ at 11.55pm. Evidence provided by the police was based on what they saw through the saloon’s opaque ‘dull glass windows’. After some dispute about the windows the court adjourned to inspect the windows and to look through them. On their return they agreed they hadn’t been able to see anything through the windows and the charge against the landlord was dropped. But in contradiction, although they agreed that the policeman hadn’t seen a thing, the drinkers were fined anyway.

It closed in 1964 and was demolished in 1965.

Red Lion, 1 Stone Street

The Red Lion, formerly The Lion, was first licensed by Charles William Bollingbrook in 1834. Bollingbrook was an early liberal activist in the town along with a number of other landlords (see the Pilot).

In 1860 the landlord owned a piece of land at Halton which he let to gypsies. In the 1880s the Red Lion was the headquarters of the Borough Bonfire Boys Society formed in 1860. In 1887 the society held a smoking concert at the Red Lion where a ‘handsomely framed illuminated address’ was presented to Henry Link, formerly landlord of the Central Hotel, for his services as treasurer of the society for eight years. There were speakers and toasts and a band played selections of music.

Rising Sun, 18 East Parade

Shipwright’s Arms, Castle Street-Winding Street

The Shipwright’s Arms opened in 1823 in Castle Street next to the shipbuilding yards of Ransome and Rowling and took its name from the employees in the yards. In 1835 landlord John Gallop applied to relocate the pub and the name to Winding street in the Bourne.

In the 1860s there were complaints about musicians arguing in the bar. In 1911 the licence was opposed by the police and referred for compensation. The pub was granted a provisional licence until 1912 when it was closed. The property and the adjacent Phoenix Brewery were sold by auction at the Castle Hotel and the pub then became a private house.

The ‘Conditions of Sale’ described the building as having four bedrooms and a WC on the top floor with another three rooms on the first floor – a front room ‘recently used as a bar’, a bar parlour, a smoking room, plus a WC and a staircase leading to the cellars on the ground floor.

Silverhill Tavern, Silverhill Road

The Silverhill Tavern, 8 Silverhill Terrace opened in 1876. In 1915 the landlord was fined £5 for selling a bottle of stout to a soldier, ‘for his wife’, during restricted hours. This was a big fine and seems preposterous. But under the Defence of the Realm Act anyone ‘giving, selling, serving or treating’ any member of the army or navy could be fined £100 or get six months or both.

In the 1920s there was friction between the temperance and prohibitionist movement and the licensed victuallers. In 1926 the landlord of the Silverhill Tavern attempted to bring both sides together locally. But he noted facetiously that his women customers were becoming more pious. ‘They say grace before blowing the froth off a glass of stout,’ he said.


St Leonards Arms c1905

St Leonards Tap, Marina

Another early watering hole in St Leonards was situated in the basement or ground floor of the St Leonards Hotel (now the Royal Victoria).

Because of the large number of building workers in St Leonards in 1830 and with only one pub – the Horse and Groom – it was felt necessary to open a tap in the locality. The St Leonards Tap was popular with smugglers, their runners known as ‘tubmen’, agricultural workers and artisan builders.

In 1833 the landlord, Charley Vine, organised a race along the promenade from St Leonards Tap to Priory Bridge between a local ‘pugilist’ Mike Woods and an unnamed tubman. Tubmen carried barrels of brandy strapped on their backs for the smugglers and were reputed to be very fast on their feet. ‘It was a pluckily contested race with the tubman taking the lead for the most part and keeping it until Pork Farroll’s beer house (near the end of Robertson Street) where the tubman put on an effective spurt and realised the promise to win.’ Charley Vine collected a lot of winnings.

As the hotel became more fashionable and other pubs opened up in St Leonards, the tap was relinquished and the flight of steps leading down to it became disused.

Star in the East, Rock-a- Nore Road

This pub opened in 1837. At one time Rock-a-Nore Road consisted of 20 houses. Three of them were public houses: the Star, the Dolphin and the Prince Albert with a further 20 pubs and six beer houses in 400 yards!

The Star in the East got most of its custom from the fishing community. When the industry went into decline with the introduction of steam trawlers in the 1890s, a number of pubs around the Stade, including the Star, found it difficult to continue. Closed in 1912.

Star in the West, 18 Undercliffe

Opened in 1852 as the Albert Inn (and Shades). It was then the residence of butcher and Hastings councillor Edward Waghorn. In 1855 the St Leonards Vestry held town meetings here to discuss, among other things, land for burials.

By 1878 it had become The Star and by 1880 the Star in the West, (as opposed to the ‘Star in the East’ in Rock-A-Nore Road).

In 1900 it was advertised as ‘the only house in town where ales are drawn from the wood (untrue), and displayed a flag on the roof. It had 72 coloured lights across the front to celebrate The Relief of Mafeking’ in the Boer War.

In 1910 the Tory member of parliament, Arthur Du Cross, was an honorary subscriber of the Star in the West slate club, which that year paid out the not inconsiderable sum of £109.13s 9d between 75 members.  It was also noted for its bagatelle room.

The pub was bombed in the Second World War and completely destroyed. Its licence, as late as 1959, was still ‘in suspense’ but was finally transferred to the bar of the West St Leonards Bathing Pool in that year. The site of the pub is now the open space behind Marine Court.

Sun Inn, Tackleway

The Sun Inn was formerly a beer house called the Cutter Foam first licensed in the 1860s. It burnt down in 1873. The pub was rebuilt and reopened as the Sun Inn in 1876.

Queen’s Head in 2011

Queen’s Head, Fishmarket, 1 East Beach Street

The Queen’s Head was two doors away from the Jolly Fisherman and four doors away from the London Trader. The circular Fish Market, built in 1870 at the bottom of the High Street, was next door. The Queens Head was first licensed by John Tree in 1830 and throughout the Victorian period was popular with visitors. In 1861 the landlord was summonsed for ‘allowing notoriously bad characters to assemble’ in the pub. A police constable observed ‘three prostitutes coming out with a can of beer, two others at the bar and one in another room plus 18 men’. ‘The men were singing at 1.30am.’ They were Artillery from Brighton being served as Bona Fide travellers.

In 1864, an ‘influential resident of St Leonards’ complained to the magistrates. He said prostitutes lived in the building and took customers there. In 1872 in the taproom, a prostitute was charged with stealing 5s [25p]from a labourer from Halton. She asked him to ‘stand me a pot’ of porter which he did and also gave her three herrings. After she had left he realised he had been robbed, an act for which she was later committed for trial. In the same year the licence was transferred because the landlord had left town ‘and could not be found’.

The Queen’s Head was an early morning pub opening at 5am to serve the fishing community. With a decline in the industry around 1900, the Queen’s Head, like other fishing pubs, struggled on until it finally closed in 1913. It was then tied to Hewetts Brewery. The building is now the Old Fryer.

This beer house did not have a specific name until about 1870 when the licensee, James Coleman, named it the Mariners Home. In 1892 it was renamed again as the Pelican after a well-known Hastings vessel of that name whose name pennant is preserved in the Old Town museum.

The licence was opposed in 1912 because there were 13 other pubs within 300 yards. The Pelican consisted of one long bar with taps at one end and a Jug and Bottle and was an early morning house opening at 5am. Its customers were mainly hawkers, rag and bone men, fishermen and persons who frequented common lodging houses.

Charles Craig  ‘the Hastings ferryman’ was another customer and appeared as a witness when the licence was challenged.

This part of East Parade has been variously known as Commercial Road, West Street, West Beach Street and finally in 1896, East Parade. It closed in 1935.

Silverhill Tavern in 2013



The Silverhill Tavern is currently being demolished. This a picture of a barrel lift which transported barrels from the cellar to the bar. It was in use up until the recent closure. The photograph was taken by the last landlady Nickki Parkin.

St Leonards Arms, Shepherd Street

This pub stood two doors away from the Foresters Arms and was attached to the St Leonards Brewery (formerly the Crown Brewery) situated behind.

The St Leonards Arms, formerly the Crown Tap, allegedly came into existence in 1827 making it the oldest pub in St Leonards. It applied for a full licence in 1850 which was refused, and in 1854 landlord James Nabbs was summonsed for selling spirits. A witness said he bought two glasses of porter at 1½d each, 2d worth of bread and cheese and a glass of gin for 3d ‘from under the counter’.

In 1858 the brewery was auctioned and was described as ‘embracing all modern improvements: a dwelling, stores and stabling in Shepherd Street and six adjoining dwellings in London Road’. The pub was granted a full licence in 1859 and became the St Leonards Arms when the brewery was renamed St Leonards Brewery.

In the 1890s it advertised ‘good accommodation for cyclists’ and in 1907 both brewery and pub were purchased by Breeds Brewery of Hastings.

In 1920 two men, one a demobbed Canadian soldier, stole two vases from a boarding house in Warrior Square. They attempted to sell the vases to the barman John Moule, who lived in Market Passage. He reported the incident and they were fined 40s [£2]. “This public house is not a pawn shop for stolen property”, said the magistrate. It closed in 1921.

Smugglers, White Rock

See the Pubs of Hastings & St Leonards for full history.

Victoria Tavern, 82 High Street

The Victoria Tavern beer house was located opposite the Roebuck (now the Roebuck Surgery) and granted a licence in 1860 when it had been a beer house for six months. It had twelve good size rooms and ‘would be more respectable as an inn than as a beer house’ said the landlord.

But renewal of the licence was refused in 1869 because of ‘notoriously bad behaviour’. Thomas Piddlesden applied again in 1871 but was also refused.


On Tuesday at the quarter sessions, before the Earl of Chichester (chairman) and a full bench, the case of “Boulter v Justices of the Borough of Hastings” was heard. Mr. Besley and Mr. Day, instructed by Mr. Norris, appeared for the appellant, and Mr. Merrifield and Mr. Hall, instructed by Mr. Langham, clerk to the magistrates, for the respondents. Mr. Besley opened the case, stating that the appellant lived at 32, High-Street, Hastings, which had been licensed as a beerhouse for a long period as the Victoria Tavern. Mr. Charles Boulter, the appellant, said he had been a chimney sweeper, was now a general dealer, and applied for a beerhouse license for his house, which the magistrates refused on a technical objection. The question was afterwards re-opened and the case re-heard, but the bench still refused to grant the license.

In cross-examination, witness said the house had always been a quiet and good one, there had been no disturbance between him and his wife, and she was never turned out of doors by him. He thought the High-street had more traffic than formerly; he had kept a beerhouse before and nothing had been said against his character.

Mr. John Bishop said he was a valuer in the employ of Mr. Hewitt, the owner of the house. The Victoria Tavern, he said, was first licensed in 1859. In September, 1869, he applied for a beerhouse license under the new act of parliament, and was refused on the ground that he was not the actual occupier of the house. The present tenant, Boulter, was then placed in possession, and on the 28th October applied for a license. The application was refused and the house shut up. Another application had been made during the present year with the same result. Witness was well acquainted with the beer trade of Hastings, and a good business could be done at the Victoria Tavern. The justices had granted beer licenses after they refused one to Boulter.

Mr. John Campbell said he knew Mr. Boulter and his house; the former had a very good character and the latter was well built and commodious. There were fewer workmen in Hastings than formerly and some the beerhouses could be dispensed with. Cross-examined: The Victoria Tavern was not needed as a beerhouse.

Mr. Merrifield then addressed the bench on behalf of the magistrates of the borough. He condemned very strongly some observations which Mr. Besley had made in his opening statement as to the magistrates having been biased by political considerations in refusing the license. Conduct more discreditable to a bench of magistrates could not be imputed, and he was surprised from the sweeping character of the charges made by the counsel for the appellants that not one title of evidence had been called to prove them. Mr. Besley had spoken of “political shuffling,” and called the refusal of the magistrates to license the house a “high minded act of oppression.” He challenged his learned friend to prove one single statement of this sort, and he should be able to show that the Victoria Tavern in Hastings was not needed as there were already about 95 alehouses and 84 beerhouses in the borough.

He called Mr. F. A. Langham,. Clerk to the Magistrates, who produced the minutes of the meetings of the bench. Mr. Langham said the magistrates were not unanimous in refusing the license to Boulter, and Mr. Besley subjected him to a severe cross-examination on his interpretation of the law and the nature of the advice he had given the magistrates with reference to this case. Mr. Langham said he had never consulted council’s opinion as to the validity of the grounds on which the magistrates refused the license; he simply acted on his own opinion in advising them, and he re­tained that opinion still. He might, however, be wrong.

Supt. Wm. Glenister, of Hastings, said he knew the house in question, and its character was very bad. He did not think the public required the Victoria Tavern, nor a great many more of the houses that were licensed. There were 90 public houses and 70 beer­houses in Hastings and St. Leonards.

Cross-examined: Mr. Hewitt, the owner of, the Victoria Tavern, has always done what he could to keep it in good order, and had evicted tenants of bad character. He had no reason to suppose that Boulter would not conduct the house respectably, and he thought that if the licenses of some of the smaller beerhouses were taken away, which would be beneficial to the town, that such a house as the Victoria Tavern should be licensed. The magistrates unanimously refused to grant the license, and confirmed the decision of the Hastings Bench. Mr. Besley applied that no order should be made as to costs, but the magistrates decided that the costs should follow their decision.

Sussex Weekly Advertiser 22/10/1870

Tivoli Tavern, 131-133 Battle Road, St Leonards

Built in 1860 as the Tivoli Hotel it took its name from the old Tivoli tea rooms and gardens at the junction of Battle Road and ‘Jessie Hack’s’ hill. (See the history of the first Tivoli Tavern in The Pubs of Hastings & St Leonards 3rd edition.

In 1870 a group of youths were out on a spree. One of them, to the amusement of the others, kept his money in a small cloth bag. During the evening’s pranks the corner of the bag was cut and two sixpences removed which upset the owner who next day reported it to the police. After three court appearances and two adjournments the case was dismissed. The accused said “I took your money for a lark, I don’t want it you old Irish …”. The lawyer said: “Actus non facit reum nisi meus sit rea”. (Action means little unless the mind is eager for the truth.)

In 1876 the landlord was still being criticised for his customer’s behaviour. “I’m doin’ my best. I have a rough lot to deal with”, he said.

In 1915 this pub had at least one bar with the licensee’s sitting room adjoining and a billiard room. It seems that a popular drink in winter was ‘three of hot rum’.

In 1937 the annual dinner of the Tivoli Winkle Club was held here. Unlike the Hastings Winkle Club this one admitted women. They were entertained by Mackie brothers with humorous Irish renderings, Mr J Mould (baritone), Mr J Crump jnr, (piano accordion), Mrs Lipscome (comedienne), Mr J Marchant (base), Mr Donaldson (comedian), Mr Howard (instrumentalist) and Mr Barton jnr and Young Taffy (duets).

The Tivoli Winkle Club operated here in the 1930s. The Dicky Bow Club existed more recently in the 1970s.

Closed in 2013.


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Tiger Inn, 19 Stonefield Road

The Tiger first opened in 1848 and had two small bars with separate entrances. A second small pub nearby was called the Lion. In 1851 a female customer who took money from the till was tackled by the landlady and locked in the coalhole until the police arrived.

Robert Howlett was landlord from 1908–1929. On his death in 1929 his wife Sarah took over until 1932 when the Tiger closed. It then became a sweet shop and private house.

Tony Howlett, Robert’s grandson, still has a telescopic spirit measure, which belonged to his grandfather. ‘It is made of brass and when collapsed fitted into a case. He wore it rather like a pocket watch,’ he said.

Robert & Sarah Howlett with son Stanley, 1920s
photo courtesy of Tony Howlett

Sussex Tap, Marina, St Leonards

This was the taproom of the Sussex Hotel on the corner of the Marina and Sussex Street. It opened in the early 1830s and had a dance hall with excellent acoustics, popular with middle-class customers. The St Leonards Quadrille Band played here regularly until about 1840, when the tap and dance hall were integrated into the hotel.

The Sussex Tap was one of the pubs involved in the ‘treating scandal’ of 1837. During the 1837 general election the Conservative candidate Joseph Planta was accused of spending thousands of pounds to bribe voters. In a subsequent court case in 1840 Jemima French, the landlady, was called as a witness and described large gatherings of ‘pink voters’ at the Sussex Tap drinking free punch with funds provided by the Conservative candidate. ‘Pink voters’ were conservative voters who believed in reform and the extension of the franchise.

The hotel was probably re-licensed in the 1860s.

The premises were sold in 1874 and sold again in 1895 to the Star Brewery of Eastbourne. In 1898 the pub was the headquarters of a local Druids branch and had a 5am licence for the Fish Market, which it lost during the First World War.

In 1933 alterations were carried out because the small bar could only accommodate 25 drinkers causing an overspill onto the street. The landlord built a new clubroom upstairs and had a new bar counter fitted.

A local character called Little Bessie appeared in court in 1940 charged with throwing a whisky glass at the landlord, who was present in court wearing dark glasses. Three soldiers had entered the pub and when Bessie’s dog approached them she said: “Come away from those … thieves; all soldiers are thieves!” When told by the licensee not to talk like that she resorted to more obscene language and threw the glass at him. She was fined £5.

In 1943 a room in the pub was designated as the Civil Defence Recreation Training Club room and was the location of a darts competition in ‘Wings For Victory Week’.

Victoria Inn, Battle Road

Jessie Hack was the first landlord when the pub was rebuilt in 1840(?) It closed c2013 and is now a Co-op.

Early deeds in 1855 refer to the ‘Rising Sun and Cumberland House’. The first licence was granted in 1854 or earlier and in 1859 a man who was charged with being drunk explained that he had won his brandy and water playing dice. At that time the pub employed a boy with a pony and chaise to take the customers home at closing time.

In 1862 the pub displayed the fossilised remains of an extinct animal in the bar. The remains included a tooth weighing 7lbs and a huge circular horn tusk that had been dragged up in a trawl net by a Hastings lugger.


1920s or 1930s

Royal Sussex Arms, Old London Road

The late Ron Fellows recalls: “I was a member of the Royal Sussex Regiment whose badge was shown on the sign of the Royal Sussex Arms. The badge was made up of all the others into the Queens Regiment. The Royal Sussex Regiment Head Quarters (RHQ) was at Roussillon Barracks Chichester, West Sussex. The Barracks are now in the hands of The Royal Military Police. The Regimental Associations are still going strong. Hastings & District Branch used to meet in the Royal Sussex Arms, having moved around quite a bit.”

“It was the Hastings Branch who reported to the Royal Sussex RHQ on the condition of the badge on the inn sign outside the public house and the badge on the outside of the old Drill Hall in Bexhill. These two badges were refurbished and the bar of the Royal Sussex Arms was decorated in the Regimental Colours. All this was paid for by Royal Sussex, R H Q.”

The inn sign of the Royal Sussex Arms is now in the Redoubt Museum Eastbourne.


Drawing by Dick Barnes 1967

The landlord reportedly had some trouble with the ’Mods’ during the riots of the 1960s but they eventually moved elsewhere.

Tackleway is a narrow street and delivery lorries found access difficult. Also it was proposed to redevelop the area under the Holford Plan in the 1960s. For these two reasons it closed in 1970.

Sun Inn, showing the bar built on to the front of the house  - photo by Terry Huggins 2010

In 1878 Breed’s Brewery, to whom the pub was tied, would not transfer the licence to a landlord who had been in situ for 12 months, ‘because he had not conducted business in a proper manner’. The landlord in his defence said: “The house was a brothel before I took over.”

In 1939 licensee J M Walker acted as unpaid Air Raid Warden for the area but he had gone by 1944 when a London bus driver applied for the licence. He left his job, a National Service Employment, without permission and in court said that after his wife died running a household was too much to cope with. He moved to Hastings, and finding the Sun Inn needed a landlord, he applied. His story was reported as ‘Busman gets a place in the Sun’.

John Cornelius licensee 1967-1970 photo courtesy of Roger Povey

Hastings & St Leonards Observer 28/06/1873

Shah (The), 144 Mount Pleasant Road

Landlord was charged with overcharging in 1919. At one time the landlord was a Queen’s servant.

In 1936 the Shah asked if it could provide a piano in the bar for customers use without a licence. The reply was “Anyone can have a piano for customers to play without a licence provided they are not paid entertainers.”

Closed in 2016


Ship Inn - drawing by Tony Minter 2010

Ship, Post Office Passage/Bourne Street 1824–1908

In 1855 a policeman heard the sound of a ‘raffling cup’ (a means of deciding who would pay for the beer), coming from the Ship and found a man and a prostitute in the backyard ‘in a very indecent position’. He later returned to find ‘the same pair engaged in the same act in the same place’.  He said the pub was a very rough lodging house ‘worse than a brothel’. The landlord was fined 10s [50p] with 19s 6d [97½p] costs.

By 1879 things hadn’t changed much. The landlord, William Bowra, was charged with ‘allowing prostitutes to remain on the premises longer than necessary to obtain refreshments’ (which is one way of describing it!). However, a police constable had observed that female customers were ‘fully dressed and wore hats and dresses’. Consequently the case was dismissed but the magistrate said: “The evidence did not give the bench a very high opinion of the character of the Ship.”

In December 1883 a customer was charged with attempting to obtain 6d by fraud. He bought a pint of beer with a shilling (12d) and got 10d change. He then said: “I have got some change. Would you take a sixpence and sixpenny of coppers and give me the shilling back?”

According to the police in 1905, the Ship was frequented by a low class of customer usually with a criminal record. It closed in 1908 and the premises were sold by Tamplins the Brighton brewers in 1910.

Sussex Express 14.01.1865