Battle – where the Battle of Hastings was fought in 1066!
Battle is home to the very spot where King Harold fell during the Battle of Hastings so, unsurprisingly, first port of call for most visitors is English Heritage’s Battle Abbey and the Battlefield. Built by the Conqueror as a penance following the battle, the Abbey dominates the southern end of the town which subsequently grew up. Towards the northern end is the medieval Almonry and its gardens, now home to the Town Council and the Battle Museum of Local History (www.battlelocalhistory.com). In-between the Abbey and the Almonry are many fine buildings, ranged along the High Street, the Abbey Green and Upper Lake, including the Church of St Mary the Virgin, which celebrated its 900th anniversary in September 2015.
You can wander at will and discover the town for yourself, listen to the Geotourist phone app to guide you around the town or follow one of the Battle Trails, for which leaflets are available at the Almonry. The Town Trail leaflet explains the brown ceramic plaques that are attached to many of the buildings, The Heritage Trail map takes you around markers celebrating aspects of the town’s heritage, and the Keane Trail takes fans of their music to places which prompted some of their songs. For children there is an Activity Book and a Treasure Trail and for those who want to get out into the magnificent countryside there is easy access from the town the 1066 Walk and Battle Great Wood.
Battle is recognised as a leading destination of historical significance. However, Battle is more than the Conquest. The town offers a diverse shopping experience, with many independent shops, cafes and restaurants set against a uniquely historical backdrop. It attracts visitors from home and abroad to its annual Arts and Music Festival. Other traditions include: the annual Marbles Match and Easter Bonnet Parade on Good Friday; a Medieval Fayre during the late May Bank Holiday; a Scarecrow Festival in July; and Battle of Hastings re-enactments in October. The Battle Bonfire Boyes celebrate every year with a parade and spectacular fireworks display on, or near to, 5th November. The town’s Christmas lights are switched on at the end of November and there is a late-night shopping event in the middle of December. For more information about events, shops and eateries go to battleeastsussex.co.uk