Although I’ve lived in Hastings for all of my life, I didn’t know that this place existed. Old St Helen’s Church may have been built originally by King Offa in around 771. As with all ancient buildings it has been rebuilt and repaired over the centuries.
It was abandoned in 1868 because “It is in a most unsatisfactory state of repair, the roof being in a bad condition, requiring immediate and thorough reparation, both as regards the main timbers and the retiling, amounting to entire reproofing. That the main walls are in places, so falling over, that if the roof were removed it would be necessary to rebuild it in partsâ€.Â Having taking some of the stone work to incorporate into the new church, they left the place deliberately to look like a picturesque ruin.
The graves in the site Â date most commonly from the 17th Century, although older grave markers are still present within the church walls still. The oldest known is that of William De Ore, Lord of the Manor buried in 1333.
A notable burial in the grounds is that of General James Murray, who fought in the French Indian wars in Canada. He became Governor of Quebec, and seemed to have a very interesting life.
The site was subject to a comprehensive archaeological dig and renovation in 2012. It is now a scheduled ancient monument with grade II listing.Â The site has been left nice and neat, with three information boards present. The work done during was thorough and needed to ensure the building lasts for many more years. I think Old St Helens Church deserves a higher level of recognition than it gets.