IMG_2223This is a window in the Fishermen’s Museum in Hastings, a deconsecrated church by the beach.  It’s a tiny museum, but still has an old fishing boat as its centrepiece.

Hastings has been a fishing town for centuries, but what makes it unusual is that it has no natural harbour, so the boats are dragged out of the sea on chains to moor them safely.  When they are returning from fishing, the skippers have to race the boats towards the beach so that the momentum will carry them high enough onto land to catch on the shingles and not be floated back out on the tide.  The boats are so small it’s hard to believe that they can be ocean going, but they are.

Some of the fishing yards have been preserved and the tall black multi-storey fishermen’s huts, like the ones depicted behind the man at the bottom of the window, still stand on the beach.

Inevitably, as in any such community, there are tales of tragic losses, when boats disappeared with their crews, as well as of astounding rescues.  So even though the building is no longer a church, it feels entirely appropriate that it should be decorated with a stained glass window, with all of its associations of memory, memorial, contemplation and celebration.

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