Hastings Castle, the Collegiate Church of St Mary and the Ladies' Parlour


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017539

Date first listed: 08-Feb-1915

Date of most recent amendment: 27-Sep-1991


Ordnance survey map of Hastings Castle, the Collegiate Church of St Mary and the Ladies' Parlour
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: East Sussex

District: Hastings (District Authority)

National Grid Reference: TQ 82109 09507


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Motte castles are medieval fortifications introduced into Britain by the Normans. They comprised a large conical mound of earth or rubble, the motte, surmounted by a palisade and a stone or timber tower. In a majority of examples an embanked enclosure containing additional buildings, the bailey, adjoined the motte. Motte castles and motte-and-bailey castles acted as garrison forts during offensive military operations, as strongholds, and, in many cases, as aristocratic residences and the centre of local or royal administration. Built in towns, villages and open countryside, motte castles generally occupied strategic positions dominating their immediate locality and, as a result, are the most visually impressive monuments of the early post-Conquest period surviving in the modern landscape. Over 600 motte castles or motte-and-bailey castles are recorded nationally, with examples known from most regions. As such, and as one of a restricted range of recognised early post-Conquest monuments, they are particularly important for the study of Norman Britain and the development of the feudal system. Although many were occupied for only a short period of time, motte castles continued to be built and occupied from the 11th to the 13th centuries, after which they were superseded by other types of castle.

Hastings Castle was the first such castle to be built after the Norman invasion of 1066 and features in the Bayeux Tapestry. Its subsequent history is well documented both historically and archaeologically. Promontory forts were defensive enclosures, some being occupied continuously while others were used as places of refuge. They were constructed during the Iron Age (700BC-AD43), most being abandoned during the 1st century BC. Such monuments are rare nationally, and are especially rare outside Cornwall. The Ladies' Parlour survives well despite in places having been damaged and partially buried by the earthworks of the later Norman castle and disturbed by recent partial excavation. Colleges were groups of ecclesiastical buildings used by small communities of priests living under a less strict rule than in monasteries. Their purpose was to offer prayers on behalf of a patron or founder. Most were established between the 11th-15th centuries. Early examples, such as at Hastings, are rare survivors. Together, the association of the promontory fort, the castle and the collegiate church, each important in its own right, greatly increases the significance of the monument as a whole.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes the castle of Norman origin together with its rock- cut ditch, the remains of a Collegiate church and the earthworks and interior area of an enclosure known as the Ladies' Parlour which has been identified as an Iron Age promontory fort. The Ladies' Parlour is part of a defensive enclosure which occupied the whole promontory although one half of its original area was subsequently taken over by the Norman castle. The crescent-shaped earthwork bank stands as high as 4m in places, but diminishes in height to both south and west. The ditch runs NW-SE between Castle Hill Road and the cliff edge above Burdett Place increasing in size to the south-east to a maximum of 2.4m deep and 20m wide. Within this defended area, William Duke of Normandy (later the Conqueror) built a motte and bailey castle immediately after landing with his army in 1066. The original motte, however, lies buried within a later enlargement on which stood a stone keep after 1172. The rock-cut tunnels to the north-west of the mound are storage chambers of Norman date. Much of the castle curtain wall dates from the later 12th century using sandstone cut from the 6m deep ditch east of the mound. Coastal erosion later undermined the south side of the bailey and the castle had been abandoned by the 15th century. Within the bailey area a college of priests had been established by 1094. The ruins of their church survive against the north wall of the castle and feature an upstanding square tower. The college was dissolved in 1546. The West Hill Lift and tunnel are excluded from the scheduling. The castle ticket office, fence, toilets and service trenches and the building adjoining the Lift are excluded from the scheduling but the land beneath is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 5 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 12869

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Barker, P, Baxter, N, 'Archaeological Journal' in Archaeological Journal, (1968)
Barker, P, Baxter, N, 'Archaeological Journal' in Archaeological Journal, (1968), 303-5
Ryder, P, Monument Class Description - Colleges, (1989)
TQ80 NW2,

End of official listing