A view of the Cyril and Lilian Bishop Lifeboat and All Saint’s Church in Hastings Old Town.
All Saint’s Church dates back at least to the Norman Conquest. The original church may have been sited somewhere else, but it was rebuilt in the 15th century. Despite reworks and maintenance through the centuries, both the exterior and interior are pretty much the same as they were when first built. It is a grade II list building, a full history of which can be read here.
The Cyril and Lilian Bishop Lifeboat, also now known as ‘The Ghost of Dunkirk’ has a much shorter history, but is an icon for the town in its own way. It was RNLI lifeboat for Hastings between 1931 and 1950. During that time it saved at least 34 lives during its service in Hastings and possibly hundreds more when it took part in the Dunkirk Evacuation.
Like many important ships and boats of that period, there seemed to be no sentimentality when it came to replacing them. It was sold as a motor boat to a new owner in Scotland, and would likely have been lost forever had it not been for the work of the Dunkirk Little Ships Restoration Trust’s work. Their work eventually resulted in the lifeboat ending back up in Hastings and being restored here. The full and interesting history of the boat can be read here.
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