Swan Hotel

From Historical Hastings Wiki

The Swan Hotel was a large inn/hotel situated on the High Street. It had over 300 feet of frontage, extending from Oak Hill, almost up to St Clements Church, occupying the block almost up to Hill Street and could provide stabling facilities for fifty horses[1]

Early Days[edit]

The earliest reference to the Swan is in 1523 when a John Levet of occupied a property known as 'Le Swanne', in this portion of the High Street. There was a devastating fire recorded in the High Street during the 16th century, which this building survived.[2]


An early reference to the Swan is by the name of the licensed premises that formed part of the complex, the Swan Shades in 1722, being in the possession of two men, Richardson and Carlton and described as being a brewery, coach house and stable yard.[3] On the 5th of April 1771, the Swan Hotel was taken over by Thomas Hovenden (ex. The George at Rye)[4], who expanded the hotel by the addition of an assembly room and ballroom[5].

It was taken over in 1827 by a widow, Mercy Grove, who with her second husband, Richard Halsted in 1829 became listed as the licensee. Mercy's daughter then sold the premises to John Collier upon her parent's demise.[3]

By the time of the 1911 Census, George Vening is listed as the proprietor[6]

1889 Rebuild[edit]

The original late medieval building was demolished and rebuilt in 1889. The rebuild involved moving the Swan Inn to a much smaller plot on the corner and building housing (including Swan Avenue) on part of the site.

WW2 destruction[edit]

The pub was destroyed by enemy action on May 23rd 1943, with the following being recorded as losing their lives;

  • Violet Cox
  • Hilda Gummerson
  • Grace Rosina Gummerson
  • Trevor Ernest John Gummerson
  • William Walter Hart
  • Margaret Hayward
  • Henry Hayward
  • William Roland Hilder
  • Harry Pearch
  • Charlotte Perks
  • Joseph Pepper
  • James Phillips
  • William Arthur Reed
  • William Henry Roffe
  • John Sommerville
  • Ann Christine Tester
  • Thomas Winborn
  • George James White

Post WW2[edit]

A memorial service was held at St Clements Church on the 26th of May 1946 for those that lost their lives in the raid. Later, to commemorate the large loss of life on this site during WW2, the bombed site was cleared in late 1952 and converted into a memorial garden featuring a sundial with the names of those who had lost their lives on the pedestal[7]



  1. Hastings & St Leonards Observer 03 March 1888 pg. 3
  2. Swan and Swan Shades: Swan and Swan Shades, accessdate: 7 December 2019
  3. a b Hastings & St Leonards Observer 23 Mar 1889 pg. 3
  4. Kentish Gazette Tuesday 30 April 1771
  5. British Newspaper Archive Hastings & St. Leonards Observer 27 November 1954 Pg. 0006
  6. 1911 Census Return
  7. Hastings & St Leonards Observer 08 November 1952 pg. 1