Today Hastings has a population of something over 80,000 and depends heavily on tourism to earn its living. There is still a fishing fleet based at The Stade in the Old Town, though severely hampered now by restrictions imposed from Europe. There is a remarkable amount of creative talent in the town: artists, writers and musicians seem to be particularly attracted here. Current Hastings residents include the jazz saxophone legend Trevor Watts, folk fiddlers Peter Knight (of "Steeleye Span") and Barry Dransfield; the award-winning science fiction writer Christopher Priest, and American-born novelist Leigh Kennedy. If rare musical instruments are your thing, have a look at the small 18th century John Snetzler organ, rebuilt in 1837, which found its way from Derby via Banbury and Lewes to Hastings, and is now sitting unobtrusively in the Unitarian Chapel in South Terrace (just a few doors along from the Quaker Meeting House).
Hastings never quite achieved the prosperity of resorts like Bournemouth or Brighton, but it has a comfortable, "lived in" feel and a lot to recommend it which is not perhaps obvious to the casual visitor. The ruins of the Norman castle on the West Hill are a major attraction as are St. Clement's caves nearby, while below on the seafront is Pelham Crescent and its centrepiece St. Mary-in-the-Castle, magnificently restored with its Georgian columns and soaring dome. For those who enjoy walking in the countryside, the unspoiled Country Park stretches from the East Hill up and down the glens and over the "fire hills" to Fairlight - and further if you can manage it!
The Old Town, nestling between the East and West Hills, is well worth exploring: as well as the picturesque houses and shops, the streets are riddled with a surprising network of little alleyways (or "twittens" as we call them in Hastings!) The beach is home to the largest shore-based fishing fleet in England, and to the eye-catching tall wooden huts where the fishermen dry their nets.