Shopping Cart Tab
Home Tab
Latest Newsletter
Latest Titles
All Titles Tab
About Us Tab
How to Join
Writers & Publishers Tab
Authors Bios Tab
Self Publishing Tab
Contact Us Tab
Country Books Banner Country Books Link

Visit to Battle, East Sussex on Saturday, 5th September, 2015

by John Haywood

This visit was organised by Dick Richardson of the Sussex Book Club, as the annual outing to a place of interest in Sussex. This year it was to the attractive town of Battle.

Battle Pictures

The town gets it name from the Battle of Hastings, which was fought between Harold the Saxon king and William the Conqueror in 1066. The battle was so significant it changed the course of English history. The town grew up around the Abbey of St Martin which was built by William the Conqueror after the battle. It is said that William vowed that should he win the battle he would build such an abbey. The abbey was built between 1070 and 1094, and the high altar is believed to have been placed on the spot where Harold fell. Today the Abbey ruins and the battlefield are cared for by English Heritage and are well worth a visit. The imposing Abbey gatehouse built circa 1338 can be seen as you look down the length of the High Street.

Battle Pictures

Battle has some notable Georgian buildings along its High Street. The cottages and houses near the Abbey date from around 1700. The parish church of St Mary was built in Norman times and for the most part is 12th century in construction. It offers the visitor rare 14th century wall paintings and a Norman font amongst other things. At the Northern end of the High Street can be found the Almonry which was built in 1090 and now houses the Town Council and the Battle Museum of Local History.

A group of about a dozen members and friends assembled outside latter building at 11.00. We then given an introduction to the museum by a former long serving curator of the museum, and who is also a member of the book club, before we were given a guided tour of the museum followed by a very interesting discussion about the Battle of Hastings, which was fought on 14th October 1066.

Battle Pictures

We learnt that William the Conqueror had red hair inherited from his Viking origins as, in 911, a group of Vikings under their leader Rollo were allowed to settle in Normandy. Their settlement proved successful, and they quickly adapted to the indigenous culture, renouncing paganism, converting to Christianity, and intermarrying with the local population.

William’s invasion must have been a logistical nightmare with 776 ships (although this may be an inflated figure) carrying possibly 7,000–8,000 men and 1,000–2,000 horses for the cavalry. His army consisting of cavalry, infantry, and archers or crossbowmen. Pope Alexander II is alleged to have given a papal banner as a token of is support, although that has not been confirmed. We were also informed that, although the famous Bayeux Tapestry has been ascribed to Matilda, wife of William the Conqueror, there are now suggestions that it was made in England, possibly in Canterbury, because of the international reputation of English needlework at the time.

Battle Pictures

The group broke for lunch and the nearby Cafe Ten was suggested as a good place to go to. This recommendation was certainly confirmed by the excellent lunch at very reasonable prices and is highly recommended.

Afterwards, we reassembled at 13.15 for a most interesting guided tour of the town. Only the pressure to get back to the car before the parking ticket ran out, forced several of to curtail the tour by a few minutes at the end. Our thanks to our two excellent guides for a most informative tour.

Despite the very dull weather, it was certainly a very a very enjoyable and interesting day out and, at least, the rain held off.

Our thanks to Dick Richardson for organising this event and we look forward to the next Sussex Book Club outing in 2016.

JKH 07.09.2015

Top of Page