Hastings & St. Leonards Society Open Meeting
Thursday 19 April 2018, 6.30 p.m. start
Room 402, Priory Square Building, University Campus
Meeting chaired by Dr. Deborah Madden (Chair, H & St. L Society)
Attended by: Hastings & St. L Society committee; representatives from Hastings Urban Design Group, Burtons’ St. Leonards Society, Hastings Local History Group, Save Our Heritage Group, West St. Leonards partnership, Green Party; additional H & St. L Society members and members of the public. Total present: 28
Item 1: Steven (secretary) provided a progress report on arranging some events for Heritage Open Days. Thanks given to those who have made suggestions and provided contact details for venues. Amongst those events confirmed is a guided tour of Hastings Town Hall on Sunday 9 September at 10.30 am. The events will be registered on the HODs website.
Item 2: Former West Marina bathing pool site, residents group report:
As an outcome of the last Open Meeting, when the future of former bathing pool site was discussed, a residents group (West Marina partnership) has been formed to work towards a Neighbourhood Plan. Mailshots were issued door-to-door and meeting held at the local community centre. About 30 persons attended and the group is working on defining the boundary for the N Plan. The residents favour recreational use for the land.
Item 3: Presentation by Ian Jarman on the Harold and Edith Statue.
Ian gave a detailed overview of the history of the statue. Some points of interest:
In 1875, Thomas Brassey donated the statue to the Corporation of Hastings for display in the proposed town hall. It never reached there. It was found a home inside the Brassey Institute (now Hastings Library). In 1953 it was erected in West Marina Gardens after briefly being in the grounds at John’s Place where the Museum and Art Gallery is located. By then some detail had been lost, including the inscription (‘edith finding the body of harold on the battle-field of hastings’). ‘Factual’ history has it that Harold’s body was cut upon the battlefield and Edith (his common-law wife) was called upon to identify the body. Ian gave Edith’s history, emphasizing her personal status and wealth further to being the wife of King Harold II.
Ian’s aim is to provide some protection for the statue to slow down the deterioration, and to provide an interpretation panel. He is running a petition to show there is support for his aims. If approved, independent funding will need to be found, as the Local Authority is unable to support such a project.
Comments from around the table: The statue needs to be relocated indoors somewhere. A cover will not stop the salt-laden winds causing further decay. However, there was further support for Ian’s petition. (There is a link to the e-petition on this website)
Item 4: Presentation by Julia Hilton of the Green Party (assisted by Chris Saunders) on the proposal for Hastings and St. Leonards to make an application for UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
The proposal is a response to HBC’s marina proposal for the Stade area. UNESCO World Heritage selection criteria was shown, of which one from ten has to be met. All demand the site to be of universal outstanding value. So what has Hastings got?
Julia listed, townscapes, cliffs, fishing industry, castle and quirkiness (e.g. Jack-in-the-green festival). There is an abundance of history, geology, archaeology, culture and landscape interest in the area, which is thought to justify an application for World Heritage Site status. However, this would require a multi-specialist group to be set-up to research and campaign. Julia said it is a realistic but complicated proposition. Estimated cost for preparing a bid is £500,000, to include professional input for planning and surveys. But the benefits if successful would be massive, including lottery grants for work on the site. Julia feels there is benefit in taking the proposal forward anyway, adding that although the Green Party is presenting the idea it doesn’t have the resources or knowledge to take the project on. Ideally, a steering group should be formed made up of people with local knowledge and experience.
Discussion suggested that there is support for the proposal and the H & St. L Society was called upon to facilitate further meetings and discussions. This was agreed, and it is intended to invite somebody with experience of working on a UNESCO application to come and speak at an Open Meeting.
Date of the next Open Meeting will be circulated when set.
Note that Hastings & St. Leonards Society has a policy not to lobby as a body on civic matters. However, it is our policy to bring matters of concern to the attention of our members and associate groups and societies, and to make enquiries when deemed appropriate.