An original seaside Regency New Town, beautiful St Leonards-on-Sea just west of Hastings has a wonderfully vintage feel about it today with its Designers and Makers Fairs, and its mile long promenade affording magnificent coastal views. The town was a purpose built resort, one of the first, built by the famous Regency architect and planner James Burton who worked alongside the great John Nash on projects such as Regents Park. Burton’s son Decimus took over where James left off after his death. A magical mix of Regency buildings and gardens, St Leonards is a pretty, peaceful coastal town from which you can dip into nearby attractions in Hastings and Battle at your leisure.
James & Decimus Burton’s Regency Architecture
The names of the architects James Burton (1761-1837) and Decimus Burton (1800-81), father and son, are synonymous with St Leonards-on-Sea. James Burton had already worked on projects such as Regent’s Park alongside John Nash in London when he decided in later life to develop the Regency New Town project at St Leonards on the western edge of Hastings. After his death his son Decimus expanded the project. Lodges, Baths, the Clock House and Villas all designed by James Burton feature in St Leonards.
Burton’s influence for many of the structures was John Nash and you can see the resemblance in the design of St Leonards Gardens with Regent’s Park. Like Regent’s Park, the villas here sit in and around the park. Burton had set to work on St Leonards from 1828. The Ionic terraces situated along the seafront are his work as well as the striking St Leonards Hotel which later became the Royal Victoria. The Greek Doric Assembly rooms now the Masonic Hall and the splendid St Leonards Gardens are also Burton’s work. Hastings Museum in the Old Town Hall is well worth a visit to view over 300 architectural drawings and memorabilia linked to James and Decimus Burton.
Super stylish St Leonards-on-Sea has developed a reputation as a top boutique independent shopping experience on the South East Coast. Craft and design studios mingle with chic cafes, world cuisine restaurants and superb fashion emporiums selling both designer and vintage clothing and accessories. Hair and beauty outlets are also plentiful alongside local bakers and world cuisine food shops, and a recent addition to the events calendar includes designer markets.
St Leonards benefits from its own station, St Leonards Warrior Square, on the Southern Railway network making it easy to leave the car behind and head off to this beautiful boutique seaside resort for a holiday or short break. Public transport links are excellent in the area, with Stagecoach bus services running regularly between St Leonards, Hastings and Battle for the 1066 Battlefield site.
Where to Stay
Classic Victorian and Regency guest houses feature in St Leonards, including 5 Star award-winners, eco-friendly B&Bs and some character themed B&Bs. Stunning contemporary self-catering apartments, boutique hotels and family friendly holiday parks are also widely available, with all the bustling seaside attractions and famous castle in Hastings right on your doorstep. Browse our selection of St Leonards on Sea accommodation below and book online or direct with iknow.