Swan Hotel, Hastings Old Town


At 1pm on Sunday the 23rd May 1943, German fighter bombers, probably Focke Wulf 190s, swept across Hastings and St Leonards in a ‘tip and run’ raid. They dropped 25 high explosive bombs and sprayed machine gun fire indiscriminately. The raid was the second worst for the town in terms of casualties, with 25 people killed in total and 85 injured, 30 seriously. Among the buildings suffering direct hits from the bombs was the Swan Hotel, Swan Terrace and Reeve’s Antiques, all on the High Street in Hastings Old Town.

The hotel had been a fixture in the Old Town since around 1523. Its function as a business in the area changed over the centuries to keep up with changes to society. Originally a public house, it became a place for gentry, a stagecoach stop, post office, community space and a hotel. The Swan was completely rebuilt in 1890, as shown in the image below. During WW2, many public houses in Hastings had closed but the Swan had remained open throughout.

The excellent Hastings Pubs History website has further information and more photographs here.

The Swan Hotel was full of people when it was hit and seventeen people died there with many others injured. The names of the deceased who died there are listed below.


Violet Cox
Grace Gummerson
Hilda Gummerson
Trevor Gummerson
William Hart
Henry Hayward
Margaret Hayward
William Hilder
Joseph Pepper
Charlotte Perks
James Phillips
William Reed
William Roffe
John Somerville
Ann Tester
George White
Thomas Winborn

The people listed above are all buried at Hastings Cemetery.

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