Battle - PHOTOGRAPHER COMMENT
Virtual tour panorama showing Battle town centre, Battle Abbey, the site of the Battle of Hastings (and main tourist attraction in Battle) and surrounding cafes and restaurants. Picture taken late in the day in May 2011.
Battle - FURTHER INFORMATION
Battle - Battle visitor guide showing a virtual tour of 'Battle' linked to an interactive map with local and travel information. 360° panoramas from East Sussex.
Though always associated with Hastings, 8 miles away on the South Coast, the Battle of Hastings actually took place in the small, East Sussex town of Battle. It was here that William, Duke of Normandy, defeated the armies of King Harold II to become William I in 1066. It was a battle that he in fact nearly lost.
Battle and the Battle of HastingsIt is thought that William's forces landed in Normans Bay on the south coast and then advanced on Battle. His army of nobles, mercenaries, and troops were from Normandy, Flanders, Paris and Île-de-France. They included a very strong cavalry, infantry and archers.
The army of King Harold had already fought and won 2 battles elsewhere in England before the forced march to meet William at Battle. His army was entirely infantry, made of dedicated, professional Housecarls supported by part time fyrdmen from noble households. Harold occupied prime position at the top of Senlac Hill on the battlefield.
Earliest records of the battle are sung about in the Carmen de Hastingae Proelio, which states that the English forces were suprised by the Normans, attained the top of Senlac Hill and vainly attempted to form a shield wall. This was broken through by the Norman light infantry and then cavalry, devastating the English forces.
Battle of Hastings - EmbelishmentsOver time, the account of the Battle of Hastings at Battle became embellished. Though quite probably inaccurate, the final story circulated presented two well formed armies facing each-other, with the English in the dominant position on Senlac Hill.
The story then goes that William first pounded the English with his archers and then, thinking the English softened up sent in his infantry. In fact, most of the archery assault had been absorbed by the effective English shield wall, and the English repelled the infantry assault. William then advanced with his cavalry, but this too was repelled and his army broke into retreat.
At this point the English fyrdmen broke rank and chased the Normans down the hill. William's horse was killed beneath him and the Norman forces thought for a time that he was also dead. Removing his helmet, William managed to rally his forces and launch a devastating counter attack against the fyrdmen, now not protected by the strong shield wall. During this Norman offensive, the brothers of Harold were killed.
Reforming his troops, William then advanced again on the remaining Saxons on the hill-top, this time breaking through the shield wall. After heavy fighting, Harold was killed along with many of his nobles and Housecarls, the rest of the English fleeing the battle, giving William the victory and freedom to advance on and then London.
Battle - Tourist AttractionsToday, Battle remains a small town, drawing tourists because of the association with the Battle of Hastings. The top, and major tourist attraction within Battle is Battle Abbey, built on the site of the Battle of Hastings and shown in this picture. Other tourist attractions within Battle include
- St Mary the Virgin Church - 12th century church next to Battle Abbey.
- Yesterdays World - popular shop selling things from the past.
- Battle Museum of Local History - museum with artefacts from 3000BC to the current day, including a copy of the Bayeux Tapestry and photo library.
- Almonry - model of Battle town housed in an old building near the High Street.
- Great Wood - about 200 acres of coniferous woodland just east of Battle.
- Kingsmead Open Space - site where King Harold rested his troops on the night before the Battle of Hastings, highest point in Battle with stunning views of the surrounding area.
- St Michael's Church - Catholic brick church building built in 1887 and twinned with St Theresa of Lisieux in the village of Horns Cross.
- Cafes - many pleasant cafes surround the main square in front of Battle Abbey
Battle and Bexhill Tourist Information Centre
Battle TN33 0AD
Phone: 01424 773721
TRAVEL DIRECTIONS AND GETTING THERE
Bus: Battle Fire Station (95, 304, 305, 355, 384, 504, B75, B79)
Road: Battle is 8 miles north of Hastings on the A2100. It is 34 miles from Brighton and 60 miles south of central London (A21, A2100)