Visit Battle and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:
Battle, Sussex. A town built on the site of one of the most momentous events in British history, the Battle of Hastings, when William the Norman defeated Harold II and thus became the Conqueror and King of England. The thriving town is dominated by the massive gatehouse of the Abbey which stands on a rise at the head of the High Street. Battle contains many old buildings, some dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries, but the main interest centres around the Abbey and the historic events of 1066.
The origins of the Abbey date back to the day of the battle when William vowed that he would build a church on the site if God gave him victory. This he did, having the high altar set up on the spot where Harold fell. Subsequently Benedictine monks built an abbey close by. With the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII, Battle Abbey was granted to his Master of Horse, Sir Anthony Browne, who pulled down much of the existing buildings and converted the abbot's lodgings into a private house.
Of the church built by William nothing remains above ground, but some traces have been excavated and the plan of its foundations is quite clear. On the site of the high altar stands Harold's Stone, erected by members of the Souvenir Normande who visited Battle in 1903. The refectory built by the Benedictines still stands, roofless, but otherwise well preserved. The impressive gateway has survived largely in its original state.
Those interested in the battle itself can easily form an idea of how the opposing armies were disposed. The details are well known: William marched from Hastings and took up a position on a hill about 400 yards south of the English army, drawn up on a higher hill. After unsuccessful uphill charges on the English shield-wall, the Normans retreated. The English pursued them, abandoning their good defensive position. Seeing this, William rallied his men, who turned and destroyed the English forces. Harold, already wounded, was despatched by Norman knights.
The terrace of the abbey is, perhaps, the best vantage point; this was the Senlac Hill on which the English took up their positions, their lines running for about 800 yards east to west. The terrace overlooks a deep gully, between the two positions, and about 400 yards south is the lower hillock on which the Norman forces were drawn up. It can be seen from the terrain why the early charges of the Norman knights in their heavy armour were unsuccessful. Beyond the site of the Norman line is a higher hill, Telham Hill, where William established an advance post, and from where his scouts first reported the approach of Harold and his English army.
From the top of the abbey wall near the Harold Stone there is a good view over the town and a deep gully beyond, the scene of the English retreat after the Normans had broken through their positions. Along the Hastings Road, which skirts the abbey wall, there is a railway bridge which marks the approximate position from where William commanded his forces. From about 100 yards west of this is a good view over the intervening ground and the English positions, now partly obscured by trees and buildings.
The parish church, St Mary's, dates in part from the 14th and 15th centuries. It was tastefully restored in 1869.
Nearby towns: Bexhill-on-Sea, Hastings, Robertsbridge, Rye, Winchelsea
Nearby villages: Ashburnham, Brede, Brightling, Catsfield, Crowhurst, Hooe, Mountfield, Ninfield, Penhurst, Sedlescombe, Sidley, Staple Cross, Whatlington,
Have you decided to visit Battle or the surrounding villages? Please look above for somewhere to stay in:
- a Battle bed and breakfast (a Battle B&B or Battle b and b)
- a Battle guesthouse
- a Battle hotel (or motel)
- a Battle self-catering establishment, or
- other Battle accommodation