The Rossetti Heritage
Dante Gabriel Rossetti and his sister Christina Rossetti were regular visitors to Hastings, a popular place for poets and artists in the nineteenth century and has remained so ever since. DG Rossetti and Elizabeth Siddal were married at St Clement’s Church on 23rd May 1860 by the Rector, the Reverend Thomas Nightingale. Alas, Lizzie was ill and died only two years later, aged only thirty.
The Rossetti sanctuary lamp is still in use today and the church also has a copy of his painting of the Annunciation, presented to the parish in 1928 on the centenary of DG Rossetti’s birth, in which Christina was used as the model for the Virgin Mary. Christina, a devout Anglican, would have worshipped at St. Clement’s during her stays in the Old Town High Street.
Christina Rossetti never married but was in love with Charles Cayley, a former pupil of her father and whose family home was Pevensey Road in St. Leonards-on-Sea. Cayley proposed marriage in 1866 but Christina refused because of his agnosticism. He died in 1883 and was buried in Hastings Cemetery.
A small permanent exhibition entitled Rossettis in Love is being prepared for display in St Clement’s.