Just Back From… 1066

It seemed fitting for my 100th post on this blog to write about an historical event, one with far more importance though…

It is a date that every English child will know sooner or later. The year 1066, when King Harold was shot in the eye by an arrow and died on the battlefields at Hastings.  The most famous battle  fought on English soil  and the last successful invasion of this country.

A couple of days after Christmas I dragged my OH, my daughter and her partner and three pre-teen grandchildren down to Battle Abbey, with the promise of fish and chips on the beach at Hastings afterwards. I have never been to Battle. I have been to Hastings a few times, but Battle with its Abbey and battlefield always passed me by – or I it. I felt it was time to go and see what had happened there which marked the end of Anglo-Saxon England.

The first thing to do once you have entered the abbey grounds through the courthouse (now the entrance and shop)  is to make your way to the visitors centre and watch the film depicting the famous battle. I thought the children would be bored, but no they were fascinated by the tale, and even more fascinated by the chain-mail and heavy shields which the soldiers of the day had to carry. I learned something new. I hadn’t realised that Harold and his men shortly before this battle  had marched up to York and fought a major battle (at Stamford Bridge) with the Vikings before marching back down to the south-east (another 5 days march) to face Duke William of Normandy and his army. I also hadn’t realised that our army didn’t use horses in battle at that time (although they did use them to get to and from battlefields), which proved to be a major mistake in this confrontation.

(click on a photo to enlarge)

The battle aside, the grounds make for a lovely stroll – we oldies forgo the steep and muddy walk around the battlefield and made our way along the Terrace Walk where King Harold’s English army awaited battle looking across the valley to the south where Duke William’s Norman army attacked from.

King William I marked his victory by building a Benedictine  abbey on the site. This abbey was given to a close friend of King Henry VIII in 1538. The new owner, Sir Anthony Browne, kept the great gatehouse but destroyed the church, chapter house and refectory, though the lodge house remained as a private house. The house is now Battle Abbey School, but the grounds and ruins of the abbey can be enjoyed by all. Oh, and collect an audio guide (included in the entrance price) to make the most of your visit.

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I have lived in the UK for most of my life, but when young I definitely had wanderlust and even ended up living in South Africa for several years which was a wonderful experience. I now look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

25 thoughts on “Just Back From… 1066”

  1. In a documentary on television some years ago I learned about the battle that the Anglo-Saxons fought against the Vikings shortly before the Battle of Hastings. It’s tempting to think that were it not for that first encounter, the Anglo-Saxons might have won the second one.

    1066 is significant to me for two reasons: it was the number of the house I grew up in (which had been 40 until the town switched all the house numbers to four digits); it was the year after which English changed from Anglo-Saxon to the heavily French- and Latin-influenced language it is today.

    1. Quite a significant event. Where I come from the there are still a lot of Germanic and Danish derived words in the regional dialect (Yorkshire).

  2. D’you know, Jude, I have been to Hastings but never made it to Battle Abbey…. another place to visit on the (lengthening) list of UK sites!! 🙂

  3. What did you think of Hastings these days? I found it shabby and run down when I last visited, less than five years ago.
    I haven’t been to Battle Abbey since the 1970’s, so enjoyed visiting again, courtesy of this post. As for the turbulent history of 1066, I don’t know if you ever saw the good C4 series? Here is a link to get the (reasonably priced) DVD from Amazon.
    Regards from (currently dry) Norfolk, as always, Pete. X

    1. Hi Pete, you weren’t in my spam folder, but were awaiting approval – I guess it must have been the link as your comments are normally automatically accepted. We were quite surprised with Hastings. Last visit would have been before we left Surrey so sometime in 2010 or 2011 when the front was looking very shabby. Now though the whole area near the Old Town has been regenerated with a swanky mini-golf course (3 different themes), new shops and arcades in chalet-like buildings, a large café, and the miniature railway has been revamped. The Net Shops were the most surprising with a huge gallery built in black to blend in with the old narrow wooden buildings, and several of them are fish shops selling fresh seafood and fish! Nothing like that on our last visit. Oh and we saw the funicular running on the East Hill. Never seen that before! So a lot of changes in a couple of years.
      (We have your rain 🙂 )

  4. Gorgeous old buildings and I love the arches in the vaulted chamber. How the heck did they get those right back in the day I wonder?

    Congrats on the 100th post girl – may you delight us with many more to come 🙂

    1. Thanks Karen. The arches are lovely aren’t they? But I have to confess that that particular image came from my daughter’s phone camera!

      Not sure that I have another 100 things to write about, so I’d best get some travels booked 🙂

  5. Great photos and what a fab day out! Like you, I’ve been to Hastings (many years ago!) but never to Battle, so yet another place that looks very interesting and well worth a visit 🙂 Congratulations on your 100th post Jude xx

  6. A great place to visit, Jude, and lovely pics. 1066 and all that stuff about Alfred burning the cakes, is about all I remember from my long ago history lessons. 🙂

    1. I loved doing all that stuff with my kids when they were small together with motte and bailey castles, but all I remember of my history lessons is the Industrial Revolution – I was bored rigid by it by the end of my ‘O’ levels!

  7. Oh dear Jude, I went there some 30 years ago. Now you want me to go back and have a “proper” look! Great post!
    Love, Dina x

    1. It is an interesting historical place, but you have a lot of great historical sites in Norfolk to visit. I just felt it was time I saw where Anglo-Saxon England ended 🙂

  8. Some great shots in here, Jude. 🙂 You’re too prolific for me to keep up with most of the time so I’m having a dip around. Thanks for all the advice. I see what you mean about the menus. After the initial setting up they’re obviously self-maintaining.
    I need to focus on Simonseeks for a while as it (just occasionally) makes me a little money and I have a Gremlin which needs sorting. Life! 🙂 Or do I mean technology? I’ll come back to the blog setup. I’ve done some updating and using borders on the pics. The header- I’m still not convinced either way, though I can put one in.

  9. Not only had they marched all that way and back, but did it in speed almost unbelievable for the day !
    Lovely trip, this one: I suppose I hadn’t been fortunate enough to find you at this stage, Jude. Many thanks for the URL ! 🙂

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