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. An event so significant it completely changed the course of English history – and today the Battle of Hastings is probably the one date in history that every adult and child can recall.
When Duke William crossed the Channel from St Valery sur Somme in October 1066, there was no town here, just a quiet stretch of rough grazing. Following the battle, between years 1070 and 1094, William the Conqueror built Battle Abbey – a penance ordered by the Pope for the loss of life incurred in the conflict. The town subsequently grew up beyond the Abbey walls. The Church of St Mary the Virgin, built near to the Abbey gates, celebrated its 900th anniversary in September 2015.
There are many fine buildings in Battle, a large number of which date from Medieval times. Towards the northern end of the High Street, the medieval Almonry and its gardens, originally built in 1090, is now home to the Town Council and the Battle Museum of Local History.
In the 17th century, the town was a major centre for the gunpowder industry. It is likely that the gunpowder, which Guy Fawkes was discovered guarding under the House of Lords at about midnight on 4th November 1605, came from this area. Fawkes and his accomplices had planned to assassinate King James 1 the next day at the State Opening of England’s Parliament, but the authorities had been alerted to the plot. The Battle Bonfire Boyes celebrate the failure of the Gunpowder Plot every year with a parade and spectacular fireworks display on, or near to, 5th November.
1066 Country is recognised throughout the world as a leading destination of historical significance. However, Battle is more than a Conquest. The town attracts visitors from home and abroad to its annual Arts and Music Festival held in October. 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 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.
Flower displays, which are planted and maintained by volunteers from Beautiful Battle with support from the Town Council, delight visitors and residents alike throughout the summer. Battle enters the South and South East in Bloom competition and has regularly achieved Silver Gilt standard. The Almonry Garden has achieved a Gold award in successive years in the Parks and Gardens category.
Battle offers a diverse shopping experience, with many independent shops, set against a uniquely historical backdrop. The picturesque High Street, quaint ‘twittens’ (passageways) and squares offer treasures of every kind.
Within easy distance of Battle you will also find many leisure activities: National Trust and English Heritage properties; gardens; open access woods; vineyards; theatres; cinemas; cycle trails; indoor and outdoor sports – and the seaside isn’t far away!