During the Second World War, Hastings, along with other coastal communities, suffered economically. Not only did the Town share the hardships of the rest of the country but it was partially isolated by the military, as part of the strategically important coastal strip.
In the aftermath of the War Hastings had the task, common with all towns in the regeneration programme, of planning for the future of both its infrastructure and the continuing welfare of its population. From 1952 a group of local business men had the custom of gathering daily for morning coffee at the then “Creamery Restaurant” in Robertson Street where they both voiced their criticism of the local Council decisions and let their discontent be known. Originally suggested as a “stirrers” club, the group emerged in 1954 as the Hastings Muffin Club so termed because of the service performed by one of its members to Lord Asquith. Asquith was a Law Lord, the son of the former Liberal prime minister, whose home, when not working in London was in Sussex.
In 1980 the Battle Muffin Club was formed alongside the Hastings Muffin Club with the inaugural meeting held at the Gateway Restaurant, Battle on the 3rd January 1980. Members decided they would meet regularly for dinner on the second Thursday of each month with an after-dinner speaker on a subject of common interest. The objects of the club would be to support and further the work of our elected representatives and to give financial aid to needy and charitable causes within the locality of Battle and district.
Lord Asquith greatly missed his breakfast muffins which were no longer available on sale in London streets*. One of the members of the Robertson Street Club set about supplying Lord Asquith with his Muffins and this spirit of enterprise was celebrated by naming the group the “Muffin Club”. Lord Asquith became the original Patron of the Club. The Muffin man, commemorated in song, gave away his unsold muffins at the end of the day to the street children – they would have been stale and un-saleable the following morning – so this association of ideas was appropriate to the charitable purposes of the Club.
The Club has since enjoyed a position of respect as a local charitable agency giving support to local needs with, £6-7,000.00 in donations each year plus manpower and help in kind at local events.
Members meet on the second Thursday evening of each month, usually at Crowhurst Park, where the occasion lends itself to an excellent social evening around a meal and guest speaker. Club funds are raised by a collection in the Charity Muffin Bell circulated during the monthly meal, and by other social events and fund raising activities
In 2009 we were pleased to be able to form within Battle Muffin Club, the Battle Muffin Leisure Club, whose aim is to organise days out and short residential holidays to places of interest for the over 60’s residents of Battle.
* During both World Wars the sale of Muffins was prohibited – as luxury goods. Muffin Men had to find other sources of livelihood and most did not return to their earlier trade after the war. A recent book touching on this (in the First World War) is reviewed in this article in The Times 26 April 2014: