Hannah Clarke lived in the Stag public house in the old Town of Hastings in the sixteenth century. She used to sleep on a ledge above the hearth with her cats where it was warm. When the government introduced the hearth tax she was rightly aggrieved and rid the town of bailiffs. She also used to keep watch at night for marauding Frenchmen intent on sacking the town and would warn the locals of any suspicious craft sailing towards the shore. Her vigilance kept the town safe.
Later in the century her broomstick was stolen and she left the town in order to find it. She never returned but her cats stayed at home on watch. They can be seen in The Stag, mummified by the dry warmth from the hearth.
She was giantised in 1994 and has an annual outing in the Jack-in-the Green procession; a traditional celebration of the release of the Spirit of Summer. On Mayday a procession of the Jack supported by bogies, giants, drummers and hundreds of morris dancers wends its way through the streets of The old Town en route to the ruined Norman Castle where there is celebration and dancing, culminating in The Jack's foliage being distributed to the crowd in order to allow summer to blossom forth. The autumn is celebrated in the Sussex tradition of Bonfire. Well known in Lewes and Battle but thriving in most old Sussex towns including Hastings. We have a giant Guy Fawkes who is the figurehead of a long torchlight procession peopled by many colourful characters and drummers culminating in a vast bonfire on the beach and a fireworks display with topical effigies.
Derek Binns - Hastings
Site designed by Derek Moody.
Last updated 31st March 2000