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East Sussex

The site of the Battle of Hastings, where William, Duke of Normandy, defeated Harold Godwinsson, King of England (King Harold II) to become William I in 1066.


Image Above - Battle Abbey Gatehouse

Image Above Geograph © Copyright PAUL FARMER and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence.

Image Left - Abbey Dormitory (runis)

Image left Geograph © Copyright Philip Halling and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence.

Battle is a small town and civil parish in the local government district of Rother in East Sussex, England. It lies 49 miles (79 km) south southeast of London, 28.5 miles (46 km) east of Brighton and 21 miles (34 km) east of the county town of Lewes. Nearby towns include Hastings to the southeast and Bexhill-On-Sea to the south.

Battle is situated in the heart of the Sussex Weald in the designated High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The town of Battle was originally known as La Bataillage and was gradually built around the Abbey. It later developed a reputation for the quality of the gunpowder produced in the area. In the mid 18th century, the town supported five watchmakers in the High Street. Today, Battle is known as a tourist attraction.

The local bonfire society, Battel Bonfire Boyes, is claimed to be the oldest of the Sussex Bonfire Societies. The importance of Bonfire Night in Battle is that it is located in the wooded Weald of Sussex. Most of the area was heavily wooded, which provided oak and other timbers for Navy Shipyards, power for making cannons (shipped to Portsmouth or Chatham), cannon balls and gunpowder.


// Abbey Cloisters

Image Geograph © Copyright Martin Dawes and licensed for reuse under [ Creative Commons Licence.

Battle Abbey

Battle Abbey was founded to commemorate the battle, and dedicated in 1095. It was constructed between 1070-1094 by William the Conqueror as a penance ordered by the pope for the loss of life occurring in the battle, and in earlier raids in the surrounding area designed to draw Harold into conflict. Benedictine monks from the abbey of Marmoutier on the Loire were used in the construction. The high altar of the Abbey church was reputedly on the spot where Harold died.

The Abbey gateway is still the dominant feature of the south end of the main street, although little remains of the rest of the Abbey buildings. The remaining cloisters, part of the west range, were leased to Battle Abbey School shortly after World War I, and the school remains in occupancy to this day.

The abbey at Battle has been known for centuries as Battle Abbey. It and the abbey church were initially dedicated to Saint Martin, sometimes known as "the Apostle of the Gauls", and named in his honour.

According to Mystical world wide web Battle Abbey and the associated Abbot's House is apparently haunted by at least three visible apparitions and at least two unseen walkers. In the huge Common House constructed as a vast dining room for visiting dignitaries as well as the inmates, a Norman knight was seen in 1972 by a young boy , standing in the corner nearest the Chapter House. Two years later an elderly man in a brown leather jerkin and apron, symbols of a farrier, was witnessed by another visitor in the same area. When the tourist asked one of the guides who the man was and was assured that she seemed to be the only person who could see the figure, the lady had to be given treatment for mild shock. More recent reports are that the figure is that of a monk in a brown habit which would seem more likely than that of a farrier. It might also be the same figure as was seen by Joyce Pain of Starrs Green.

// Abbey: Harold memorial

Image above Geograph © Copyright Chris Downer and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence]

This monument to King Harold was given by the people of Normandy in 1903. It is near the spot where Harold supposedly fell in the Battle of Hastings. Battle's parish church can be seen in the background.

St Mary the Virgin Church, Battle

See Battle Parish Church - St Mary

As the town grew, the Abbot in 1115 built the church, for the people of "Battel" a village which had grown up around the Abbey.

// Abbey School

Image Geograph © Copyright PAUL FARMER and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence.

Battle Abbey School

The senior school occupies part of the town's ruined abbey complex. It was originally formed in 1912 as St. Etheldreda's by May Jacoby and her sister Helen Sheehan-Dare. The school moved into the Abbey in 1922, with an enrolment of thirty three girls. Within the year there were one hundred girls and the Board of Education officially recognised the school in 1926. The Abbot's house, built in the thirteenth century, now forms the centrepiece of the senior school, with the preparatory school and nursery situated in the nearby town of 1989 Glengorse and Hydneye were merged into the school

A substantial part of the main school building originates from the 11th Century, the most modern addition from the 16th Century. At the time of the Reformation, many of the Abbey buildings were destroyed but the Abbot’s house passed into private hands.

Notable alumni

Telham Hill

Located about one mile (1.6 km) south-east of Senlac Hill, in East Sussex, England. It was from Telham Hill that William the Conqueror's army first caught sight of the English army forming up on Senlac Hill, for the battle of Hastings, 14 October 1066. There are three Sites of Special Scientific Interest within the parish.

Blackhorse Quarry

A site of palaeontological interest which has produced many fossil bones and teeth including Iguanodon and crocodiles.

Hemingfold Meadow

A site of biological interest consisting of two meadows with nationally rare grassland species.

Darwell Wood

... partially within the parish is another site of biological importance as an example of hornbeam coppice with oak standards.

Gunpowder works

The first gunpowder mill in Battle was built in 1676 when John Hammond was granted permission to build a mill on land owned by the Abbey. A gunpowder works was located in Powdermill Lane - the remains of which have been converted into a hotel. In 1722 Daniel Defoe described the town as being "remarkable for little now, but for making the finest gun-powder, and the best perhaps in Europe". The Duke of Cleveland refused to renew the licence in 1847 after many mishaps, including one occasion in 1798 on which more than 15 tonnes of gunpowder were left in the oven for too long and exploded.

People Connected to Battle

  • Sir Harold Brakspear (1870-1934) who restored Battle Abbey after the fire of 1931
  • Sir Anthony Browne (1500-1568) Henry VIII gave Battle Abbey and many of its lands to Sir Anthony Brownes who was his close friend and master of the horse. Sir Anthony retained the great gatehouse as the formal entrance, but demolished the church, chapter house, refectory and cloister walk. He took over the abbot's lodgings as his residence. He was buried in Battle Church where his effigy lies alongside that of his first wife on a magnificent tomb chest.

// of Sir Anthony Browne & 1st wife Alice Gage, Battle church

Image above Geograph © Copyright Julian P Guffogg and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence]

Nearby Villages

(within 6 miles)

  • Whatlington (King Harold's Manor) 1.6 miles
  • Catsfield 1.9 miles
  • Netherfield 2.6 miles
  • Sedlescombe 2.6 miles
  • Crowhurst 2.9 miles
  • Mountfield 2.9 miles
  • Ninfield 3.0 miles
  • Penhurst 3.0 miles
  • Cripps Corner 3.5 miles
  • Ashburnham (Last Iron Furnace in Sussex) 3.6 miles
  • Westfield 4.0 miles
  • Staplecross 4.3 miles
  • Brightling (Famous for Mad Jack Fuller) 4.4 miles
  • St Leonards on Sea 4.6 miles
  • Robertsbridge 4.9 miles
  • Salehurst 4.9 miles
  • Hastings Bulverhythe 5.3 miles
  • Brede 5.4 miles
  • Hooe 5.4 miles
  • Boreham Street 5.5 miles
  • Broad Oak 5.6 miles
  • Broad Oak Brede 5.6 miles
  • Dallington 5.6 miles
  • Ewhurst Green 5.7 miles
  • Hastings Town Center 5.7 miles

Abbots of Battle


  • Robert Blancard, appointed 1076, drowned same year
  • Gausbert, appointed 1076, died 1095
  • Henry, elected 1096, died 1102
  • Ralph, elected 1107, died 1124
  • Warner, elected 1125, resigned 1138
  • Walter de Lucy, 5th Abbott of Battle, elected 1139, died 1171
  • Odo, elected 1175, died 1200
  • John de Dubra, elected 1200
  • Richard, elected 1215, died 1235
  • Ralph de Covintre, elected 1235
  • Reginald, elected 1261, resigned 1281
  • Henry de Aylesford, elected 1281, died 1297
  • John de Taneto, elected 1298, resigned 1308
  • John de Whatlington, elected 1308, died 1311
  • John de Nortburne, elected 1311, resigned 1318
  • John de Pevense, elected 1318, died 1324
  • Alan de Retlyng, elected 1324, died 1350.
  • Robert de Bello, elected 1351, died 1364
  • Hamo de Offynton, elected 1364, died 1383
  • John Crane, elected 1383
  • John Lydbury, elected 1398, died 1404
  • William Merssh, elected 1405, died 1417
  • Thomas de Ludlow, elected 1417, resigned 1435
  • William Waller, elected 1435, died 1437
  • Richard Dertmouth, elected 1437, occurs 1462
  • John Newton, elected 1463, died 1490
  • Richard Tovy, elected 1490, died 1503
  • William Westfield, elected 1503, died 1508
  • Lawrence Champion, elected 1508, died 1529
  • John Hamond, elected 1529, last abbot

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