St Clement's Church, From Hill Street
Photographer: Frith, Francis (1822-1898)
Medium: Photographic print
“High Street is the shopping town of Hastings-at-Home. If you want leather leggings, or hedging gloves, or basket work, go to High Street. When you have made your purchases, turn up to the right and see St. Clement’s Church, rebuilt about 1380. You will stay for a week or two at Tunbridge Wells, I suppose, on your way home? I shall. Because when you are there you will go to see the ruins of Mayfield Episcopal Palace, where pincer-saint Dunstan held court. Well, ‘the pincers exhibited at Mayfield Palace, as belonging to St. Dunstan, are similar to those carved in bas-relief on the font at St. Clement’s Chruch; and as there exists no trace whence it came, it seems fair to conjecture that the font may originally have belonged to this palace.’”
Descriptive letterpress by Francis Frith from his book 'The Gossiping Photographer at Hastings'
This view of St Clement’s Church at Hastings, East Sussex, by Francis Frith (1822-1898), is one of sixteen photographs of views of Hastings, St Leonards, Winchelsea and Rye illustrating his book ‘The Gossiping Photographer at Hastings’, published in 1864. Frith was a pioneer in the field of travel photography, beginning his career with three trips to Egypt and the Holy Land between 1856 and 1860. In 1859 he founded his own publishing firm in Reigate, Surrey, which issued albums and postcards of views throughout Britain. The firm was very successful and became the largest of its kind in the 19th century, continuing to be run as a family business until 1971. In Frith’s first album, ‘Egypt and Palestine Photographed and Described’, he also wrote the text that accompanied his photographs and this form of dual authorship is continued in ‘The Gossiping Photographer at Hastings’. Its text is notable for the gently satirical tone which Frith adopts in his travelogue of the 19th-century English seaside resort and its sister towns.