Foyle’s War: Exploring the Historic Locations in Hastings

Image: Foyle's War shooting locations in Hastings Did watching Foyle's War inspire a desire to visit Hastings? The captivating scenes filmed in Hastings Old Town surely played a part in that yearning. As a resident...

Foyle's War Image: Foyle's War shooting locations in Hastings

Did watching Foyle's War inspire a desire to visit Hastings? The captivating scenes filmed in Hastings Old Town surely played a part in that yearning. As a resident since 2011, I can vouch for the authenticity of the series in showcasing the essence of Hastings. The historic Old Town, nestled between two hills, is prominently featured in the show, and the aura of the town as depicted in Foyle's War truly captures the independent spirit that has always characterized Hastings.

Hastings is not only a town with a rich historical background but also a vibrant and diverse community. It is home to artists, designers, musicians, and craftspeople who contribute to its picturesque charm. The constant presence of the sea and the cries of herring gulls, drawn by the fishing industry, create a unique atmosphere that makes living here a joy. Interestingly, to maintain authenticity during studio filming, the soundtracks had to be enhanced with gull noises.

Now let's dive into the top five Foyle locations in Hastings, showcasing their present-day charm while hinting at their wartime significance.

Foyle's House

Foyle's House Image: Foyle's House at 31 Croft Road

Situated at 31 Croft Road, Foyle's House (or Steep Street, as it was known in the series) stands at the heart of the medieval Old Town. The house has remained unchanged, and one can easily envision Foyle emerging from its front door to meet Sam waiting outside in the car. With its elegant Georgian architecture, Foyle's residence has become one of the most desirable properties in the vicinity. It's hard to believe that a modern police inspector could afford such style and luxury.

The Streets and 'Twitterns' of Hastings Old Town

Swan Terrace Image: Swan Terrace

A 'twittern' is the local term for the charming alleys that meander between houses, connecting larger streets. Foyle frequently finds himself in chase scenes in these atmospheric passageways. Many street locations featured in the series, particularly in the vicinity of Foyle's house and the historic St Clement's Church. Notably, Swan Terrace, a narrow street known for Hastings' worst wartime disaster, was carefully filmed to avoid showcasing the memorial garden dedicated to the victims.

While capturing photographs for this piece, I encountered the challenges of a bustling summer tourist season—cars, vans, scaffolding, roadworks, and even hungry seagulls picking through black rubbish bags on collection day. Some streets and alleys, like the colorful Sinnock Square, were deemed unsuitable for filming due to their vibrant modern finishes, as wartime Hastings was characterized by a drab, colorless existence.

The Stade and the Net Huts

The Stade Image: The Stade

The Stade, Hastings' fishing beach, has witnessed centuries of traditions. Today, the fishermen rely on powered winches and tractors to move their boats along the shingle. However, during Foyle's time, human power and horses were the primary means of transportation. The beach has transformed significantly since the 1940s, with wooden boats replaced by metal or fiberglass ones, and vibrant plastic fishing paraphernalia adorning the shores.

The tall, black tarred net huts, a distinctive feature of Hastings, provided the perfect backdrop for many scenes in the show. The filmmakers took advantage of the atmospheric shots captured between the huts, adding to the intrigue and suspense.

The Pier and the Harbour Arm

The Harbour Arm Image: The Harbour Arm

Despite Hastings lacking a natural harbor, attempts have been made throughout history to build one, all thwarted by the powerful tidal surge of the English Channel. The harbour arm, a structure not present during the wartime era, appears as a slight anachronism in Foyle's War. Another example of artistic license is the depiction of Hastings Pier, which had a section of its ironwork demolished during World War II to sever it from land. The pier was subsequently restored in 1946.

Tragically, in 2010, the beloved Hastings Pier fell victim to an arson attack. However, thanks to the determination of the community, the pier is currently undergoing restoration, funded by both the Heritage Lottery Fund and a remarkable community share issue. The 'People's Pier' is on track to reopen in summer 2015.

The Royal Victoria Hotel, St. Leonard's

The Royal Victoria Hotel Image: The Royal Victoria Hotel

Further along the seafront lies St. Leonard's, a distinct area with Victorian and Georgian architecture. The Royal Victoria Hotel, the flagship building of James and Decimus Burton's visionary design for Britain's first planned seaside town, stands as a testament to the town's grandeur. The hotel, featured in an early episode of Foyle's War titled 'Eagle's Day,' now exudes faded grandeur, evoking a sense of nostalgia and providing a glimpse into the past.

These are just a few of the notable locations associated with Foyle's War in Hastings. Exploring the town allows you to immerse yourself in the wartime settings while discovering the vibrant present-day life that characterizes this charming coastal community.

About the Author - Stephanie Gaunt

Stephanie Gaunt Image: Stephanie Gaunt

Stephanie Gaunt, a Birmingham native, relocated to Hastings three years ago, captivated by the allure of the seaside. Residing with her husband and their food-obsessed rescue cat, Stephanie now overlooks the sea on a hill behind the Old Town. She shares her experiences of starting a new life by the coast through her blog, Hastings Battleaxe. Stephanie's passion for writing, both prose and poetry, led her to become an active member of the Hastings Writers' Group. Her professional journey spans various fields, including relationship counseling, human resources, training and consultancy, and social housing management consulting.