The Househunter: Hillside House in Hastings

It’s more of a cliffside house really but I fell down an alliterative rabbit hole…. anyway look at this. A Grade II listed property with views over the rooftops below to the sea beyond and after the year we’ve had this seems like the perfect place to be living right now. Come to think of it I quite fancy it myself…


It has five bedrooms, three bathrooms, one of which is in a vaulted cave that used to be a pottery, and three reception rooms. It’s on with The Unique Property Company for £1.5m and viewings start tomorrow… what better excuse for a day by the sea? Oh and there’s a 90ft orangery too. In case you thought it was poky or anything. Inside you will find a fish pond, grapevines and banana trees and other exotic plants which, it is said, were brought back by Captain Cook from his travels and stored here before being taken to Kew Gardens. And to be honest, that’s kind of sold it to me already.

This week’s film is clearly an historical one – who’s playing Captain Cook bringing his plants back to be cared for by the beautiful young widow who yearns to be a botanist …. scrap that – should Captain Cook be a woman bringing back the plants to a studious young man… no scrap that – here’s the thing – this week your homework is to read this gorgeous book which I read last summer and so enjoyed: Miss Benson’s Beetle. I was really quite sad when it ended, but perhaps Miss Benson might have ended up here perfectly happy to house the Captain’s plants but quite capable of setting off to find her own exotic species.

Now we’ve sorted that out, back to this house. It was originally built as two separate homes and could be divided back up again to create two living areas with two front doors. It’s located a short walk from the Old Town, which I remember from my days in neighbouring St Leonard’s as a journalism student, is very pretty indeed. Below you can see the orangery along the side of the house.

Inside there are wonderful sea views from lots of rooms. We can imagine Miss Benson sitting here classifying her beetles and looking up to see if Captain Cook’s ship is appearing on the horizon… which is about as historically accurate as Hollywood sometimes is. I think I would paint the bricks white if I bought it – I feel like they’re distracting from the view beyond.

Now the floor plan has this as a bit of a rabbit warren with two spiral staircases and a third “secret” one leading up to the third floor which has two bedrooms and space for a kitchen or dressing room depending on what you needed.

But this is a lovely unfitted kitchen with that brick floor – the floor of my fantasies although I’m not sure it’s right for a north London Victorian terrace. So maybe I will have to move to Hastings after all. If you like your interiors full of character and quirk and aren’t too bothered about sleek modern fittings then this is the one for you.

I love these Haberdasher style cabinets in the alcoves on either side of the fireplace too. So who’s in this week? I think it could be the most wonderful home if you were prepared to embrace it and not try too hard to wrestle it into submission. I have the feeling if you tried to do that that the house would win.

Let me know what you think and do put forward your suggestions for who should play Captain Cook… and while you think I’ll leave you with another view of the orangery for inspiration. I will be back on Tuesday – new for 2021 I have started taking the bank holidays which I never used to do and I’m very excited at the thought of a three day weekend. I hope you enjoy yours.


Tags : Hastings propertyhistoric propertythe househunterThe Unique Property Company
Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. Well, I’m feeling a bit smug because I bought a Euromillions ticket last night, so once I’ve checked it, this house is mine, ha ha! I love it – wouldn’t want to change a thing but the cat statue would have to be wiped from my memory!

  2. An absolute yes from me! You had me at orangery. However, in the winter I dont think I would be wafting around in a silk kimono and bare feet. More like a fleece and slippers – or buy lots of rugs – those floors dont look very warm.

  3. I love this house! Would move in tomorrow. Sadly my bank account would just laugh. Note to self, must buy Euromillions ticket tonight.
    Thank you for the book recommendation, an author I love.
    Have a great weekend

  4. Absolutely, it’s got to be Poldark for Captain Cook. Swooning also over the orangery, Miss Benson would have loved it. Such a great read. Enjoy your long weekend.

  5. It’s to die for – I love everything about it. I’ll even take the cat.

    Gregory Peck circa 1950 as Captain Cook please.

  6. Agree with Tina, I was totally sold until I saw the ghost cat, then everything suddenly took on a Miss Faversham kind of air… creepy!!

  7. Oh my! My mind is blown at this one! I would happily take the house and every single item in it. Why can’t I meet any potential suitors who own a house like this, and not the usual grey walled bland box (sigh).

  8. The house is so full of character – I would love it. You could really play around with the function of the rooms. I didn’t realise that Hastings was so pretty.

    Tom Hiddleston to play Captain Cook please!! He would play the part well and the sea is in his blood; he is a great-grandson of Vice Admiral Reginald Servaes and his great-uncle was a shipyard plater (whatever that is!). And I think he’s clever enough not to get flustered with all those Latin names of plant families and, I bet, curious enough to embrace travel.

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