Hastings has been birthplace or home to a number of famous people over the years. On this page you can find out about all of the famous people who have shaped and been shaped by Hastings and what made them famous.
John Logie Baird 1888-1946
Baird came to Hastings in 1922 to recover from ill health. He took lodgings in Linton Crescent and set up a laboratory over a shop in Queens Arcade where he transmitted the first moving image in 1924, based on the Maltese Cross of a St Johns Ambulance Medal. Baird subsequently moved to London where his invention was taken up by the BBC in 1929. He returned to Sussex in 1941 and lived at Station Road, Bexhill until his death in 1946.
Elizabeth Blackwell 1821-1910
The first woman to qualify as a doctor and have her name on the Medical Register. She lived at Rock House, Exmouth Place, Hastings from the 1870s to her death in 1910. She was the first professor of Gynaecology the London, now Royal Free Hospital and also practised in Hastings.
Sophia Jex Blake 1840-1912
Sophia Jex Blake was born in Hastings at 3 Croft Place and christened at St Clements's Church. Having studied under Elizabeth Blackwell in the USA Sophia Jex Blake was one of the first women to qualify in medicine in this country at Edinburgh University. In 1874 she founded the London School of Medicine for Women, now the Royal Free Hospital.
Barbara Bodichon 1827-1890
Nineteenth century advocate of women's rights, painter and founder of Girton College, Cambridge. Barbara Bodichon was born at Whatlington and was brought up in Hastings and the surrounding area. In 1860 she built Scalands Gate on the road between Robertsbridge and Brightling where she entertained many of the leading figures of the day including Gladstone Rossetti and William Morris.
Decimus Burton 1800-1881
Architect, son of James Burton, founder of St Leonards, who continued his Father's work in developing the new town, including West Marina, The Lawn, the Uplands and his own cottage at Maze Hill. He also built Coghurst Hall and Oaklands, Sedlescombe. Burton was an exponent of the classical style of architecture in his public commissions' such as the great archway at Hyde Park Corner and the Athenaeum in Pall Mall but his domestic buildings are more Gothic in Character.
James Burton 1761-1837
London builder who developed large areas of Bloomsbury and the houses around Regent's Park. In 1827 he founded the new town of St Leonards on Sea and the first house, now known as Crown House was completed in 1828. St Leonards was his last major project and he died nine years later. His grave is marked by a Pyramid in the Churchyard above St Leonards Church.
Thomas Brassey 1836-1918
Nineteenth century statesman and authority on employment and naval affairs. A great yachtsman and traveller he was Governor of Victoria from 1895-1900. He was also the founder of the Naval Annual, now known as Brassey's Year Book. Lord Brassey lived at Normanhurst, near Catsfield and at the Brassey institute which he gave to the people of Hastings in 1887. He was Member of Parliament for the town from 1868-1886.
Teilhard De Chardin 1881-1955
French theologian, writer and philosopher who was based at the Jesuit College at Ore place from 1908 to 1912. Teilhard De Chardin was particularly interested in early man and the evolution of life forms. His work in this area brought him increasingly at odds with Orthodox Jesuit thought. During his stay in Hastings he made an extensive study of local fossils and was involved in the Piltdown controversy.
Harry Furniss 1854-1925
Caricaturist and Punch Cartoonist, famous for his portrayal of 19th century politicians. He was also a well-known book illustrator and an early pioneer of cinematography. Furniss lived at High Wickham in Hastings Old Town from 1904 until his death in 1925. He also had a studio at East Cliff House.
A nurse at the Royal Sussex Hospital in 1941 who was awarded the George Cross for her bravery in saving the life of a patient when a bomb fell on the ward in which she was working. Her medal is now in the Hastings Museum.
Rider Haggard 1865-1936
Author of 'King Solomon's Mines, 'She' and other novels that epitomise the mystery of unexplored Africa in the 19th century. In 1918 Rider Haggard came to live at St Leonards at North Lodge, Maze Hill, the house built across the road at the entrance to old St Leonards. This remained his home until 1923.
Sheila Kaye-Smith 1887-1956
Prolific authoress whose novels are set in the Sussex countryside around Hastings and Rye. She was born in St Leonards, the daughter of a local doctor and lived in Dane Road until her marriage in 1924.
Captain Sir John Kincaid 1787 -1862
Captain Sir John Kincaid was born in Dalbeath, Scotland, in 1787. He fought throughout the Peninsular Wars with Wellington (also a famous resident). At the Battle of Waterloo, Kincaid was Adjutant of the famous 95th (Rifles) a regiment now immortalised by 'Sharpe's Rifles' TV and books series. He lived the last years of his life at 7, Cambridge Road, Hastings (which is still standing) and is buried in Hastings Cemetery. He famously wrote his experiences in 'Adventures in the Rifle Brigade' first published in 1830 and still on sale today. Knighted in 1852 he also held the honorary appointment of senior Exon Yeoman of the Guard.
George Macdonald 1824-1905
Scottish born author and poet, best known for children's stories such as 'At The Back of The Wind' and 'The princess and The Goblin'. Macdonald lived in Hastings first in the 1850s at Providence Cottage which he renamed Huntly House, just off Tackleway and later in the early 1870s at Halloway House at the bottom of Old London Road.
George Monger VC 1840-1887
The only local man to have been awarded the Victoria Cross. George Monger joined the 23th Regiment, later the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, as a drummer boy and was sent out to India where he won his VC during the Siege of Lucknow in 1857. At the age of seventeen he was one of the youngest recipients of this award. After leaving the Army, he came to Hastings with his wife and family and lived in Tower Road, St Leonards where he died in 1887.
General James Murray died 1794
Murray fought under General James Wolfe in the successful attack on French Quebec in 1759 and following Wolfe's death in battle on the plains of Abraham became Governor of Quebec and ultimately, when the French troops surrendered, Governor of British Canada. He had a long association with Hastings, through his marriage in 1748 to Cordelia Sayer, daughter of Hastings Mayor and lawyer, John Collier. He was elected a freeman and Jurat of the Borough in 1757 and was an owner of property in Hastings that included the Old Swan Inn and Bohemia Farm. In the 1780s Murry built Beauport park near Battle, named after the Quarter of Quebec in which he had been stationed. He died at Beauport in 1794.
Marianne North 1830-1890
Victorian traveller and artist whose paintings of flowers hang in the North Gallery at Kew Gardens. Marianne North was the daughter of Frederick North, Member of Parliament for Hastings in the 1830s and 1869s. She was born at Hastings Lodge, today Sacred Heart School in Old London Road which remained her home until her fathers death in 1869.
Grey Owl 1888-1938
Grey Owl, the Canadian conservationist, writer and lecturer was born Archibald Belaney in St James Road, Hastings in 1888 and attended Hastings Grammar School. At the age of 17 he emigrated to Canada and worked for some years as a trapper. He became immersed in the Indian way of life and assumed the name Grey Owl. In the 1920's he turned away from trapping towards conservation and helped set up the Canadian National Parks. He returned to Hastings on two lecture tours in 1935 and 1937.
Coventry Patmore 1823-1896
Roman Catholic poet and associate of the Pre-Raphaelites who lived at Olds Hastings House from 1875 to 1891. In 1883 he commissioned the building of St Mary Star of the Sea Church as a memorial to his second wife, Marianne.
Robert Tressell 1870-1910
Author of 'The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists' written during the time he lived in Hastings between 1902 and 1910. Robert Tressell was the pseudonym of Robert Noonan who was born in Dublin and spent some time in South Africa before coming to Hastings to work as a signwriter, painter and decorator. He painted murals in St Andrews and St Johns Churches, also at Val Muscal off Gillsmans Hill and the Cadena Café at White Rock. His book is based on his own experience of the poverty and hardship suffered by workers in the building trade in Hastings in the early years of the century.
Sir Arthur Wellesley 1769-1852
Commander of the British troops against Napoleon in the Peninsular War and hero of Waterloo, Wellesley was created Duke of Wellington in 1814. Earlier in 1806 he was stationed with his brigade in Hastings and lived in High Street until his marriage to Lady Catherine Packenham when he moved to Hastings House (since demolished to make way for Old Humphrey Avenue). He was elected Member of Parliament for Rye in the same year.