Marine court 'ocean liner' style 1930s flats with blue uplighting at sunset, with beach at low tide Marine Court and St Leonards seafront

St Leonards-on-Sea

COVID-19 Update (May 26th 2021): With lockdown easing, Larkspur is again open for guests from 12th April.  From May 16th, pubs, cafes and restaurants are open again, along with all local shops that had already reopened. The shops and cafes listed here are all ones that have re-opened and can be enjoyed by visitors.

About St Leonards

St Leonards on Sea is part of the Borough of Hastings, in East Sussex, UK.  It was built in the mid-nineteenth century as a ‘new town’, designed by Decimus Burton, who also designed buildings in and around Regent’s Park, as well as the Wellington Arch, Hyde Park Screen and the Palm and Temperate Houses at Kew.  St Leonards on Sea was aimed at well-to-do visitors and residents, with large houses in a variety of styles, from mock Tudor to Flemish to Scottish Baronial.  The houses around Central St Leonards (where Larkspur is) were part of an area known as Mercatoria, built for the workers and merchants who serviced the big houses in Burton’s St Leonards.


With the post-war decline in British seaside resorts in the mid-twentieth century, St Leonards became less attractive to the rich and fashionable. Many of the big houses were divided up into bedsits and small flats, and it gained a reputation as being a poor, deprived area, with high levels of unemployment and poverty. In recent years however, St Leonards has undergone significant regeneration.  Many of the larger houses have been converted back into single dwellings, and the small ‘workers’ houses’ around the town centre have become very fashionable.  The town centre itself reflects this, with an array of antique shops, cafes, restaurants, galleries, and specialist boutiques. The Marina beach at St Leonards has a 'Blue Flag' award for water quality and visitor facilities (shingle with sand at low tide).


Nevertheless, St Leonards on Sea could never be described as ‘twee’.  It’s a working town, and some of the larger houses remain unimproved.  But this adds to its character – it’s a town in transition, where new people are moving in, where multiculturalism is growing, and where new ideas are emerging all the time.  It also has a growing arts and cultural movement, with many working artists and other cultural specialists.


It has its own railway station, which is five minutes’ walk from Larkspur, with regular trains to Brighton, Ashford, and London.  It’s also a good centre from which to explore Hastings and its historic Old Town (two miles away – Hastings and St Leonards are part of the same borough) and of course, Hastings Pier, winner of the Sterling Prize for architecture for 2017, just a mile away.


Further afield, there are all the attractions of 1066 Country and the rest of Sussex, from the battleground at Battle Abbey, to the Bloomsbury Set at Charleston Farmhouse, and much more.



Hastings and further afield:

Parks, Gardens and Nature Reserves:

Hastings Country Park, Alexandra Park, Filsham Reedbeds, St Helen's Woods, Marline Valley,  Summerfields Woods.


Hastings Attractions:

The Source, Blue Reef Aquarium, White Rock Theatre, St Mary in the Castle, Hastings Castle, Smugglers Caves, Hastings Contemporary, Hastings Old Town, The Shipwreck Museum, Hastings Museum and Art Gallery, East Hill Cliff Railway, West Hill Cliff Railway, The Fishermen’s Museum, Hastings Adventure Golf, True Crime Museum, The Stade and Hastings Fishery.


Attractions nearby:

DeLaWarr Pavilion, Romney, Hythe, and Dymchurch Railway, Great Dixter, Scotney Castle, Camber Castle, Sissinghurst, Pevensey Castle, Rye, Camber Sands, Charleston Farmhouse, Kent & East Sussex Railway, Battle Abbey, Bodiam Castle.


In 'normal' years, there’s also a wide range of special events in Hastings, from fish fairs to arts festivals, throughout the year, although whether they'll all return post-pandemic remains to be seen. They include:

  • International Chess Congress (January);
  • Fat Tuesday Music Festival (February)
  • Hastings International Piano (February-March)
  • Hastings International Musical Festival (March)
  • Jack-in-the-Green (Mayday Bank Holiday)
  • Hastings Folk Festival (May)
  • St Leonards Festival (June)
  • Hastings Comedy Festival  (June)
  • Hastings Fringe Festival (June)
  • Mid-Summer Fish Festival (June)
  • World Crazy Golf Championship (June)
  • Hastings Theatre Festival  (July)
  • Pirate Day (July)
  • Hastings Beer and Music Festival (July)
  • Hastings Carnival (August)
  • Hastings Pride (August)
  • Seafood and Wine Festival (September)
  • Coastal Currents Visual Arts Festival (September)
  • Battle of Hastings International BMX Festival (September)
  • Hastings Week and Bonfire (October)
  • Herring Fair (November)
  • Hastings Storytelling Festival (November)
  • Hastings Illustration Festival (December)


For local events and attractions listings, see the Visit 1066 Country website.



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