Battle and District
                 Historical Society


History in Battle: New Year 2020 update

The next BDHS talk is on Thursday 16 January 2020:  ‘Writing a Biography of William the Conqueror’ by Professor David Bates. David Bates, the new President of the Society, is a renowned historian of Britain and France from the 10th to the 13th century.  He has written many articles and books, the most recent being a radical revision of William the Conqueror. He is currently working on further innovative approaches to the history of northern Europe during the period.  Non members/ guests are welcome, price £5.

Ian Cawley of Rother Books will be at the talk selling Professor Bates’ biography of William:

Mon. 20 January 2020 -  Treasures of the Livery Company Halls  At the Hastings Centre, The Ridge, Hastings TN34 2SA, 2.00 p.m..  The City of London is home to no fewer than 40 Livery Company Halls, almost as many as existed immediately prior to the Great Fire of London.  Many succumbed to the fire, others to the Blitz, but all contain a wealth of treasures in art, sculpture, stained glass, silverware and furniture. Lecture by Paul Jagger, run by The Arts Society Rother Valley.  Visitors welcome (suggested donation £7). Enquiries:  Jenny 01424 421344

Treasurer of the BDHS : Hugh Willing has generously agreed to succeed David Sawyer, who is stepping down as Hon Treasurer of the Society at the November 2020 AGM. Hugh will work with David for the next year to ensure a smooth handover.

For New Year reading or a gift, try a couple of histories from BDHS member Ian Cawley at Rother Books. Keith Foord’s “Conquest to Dissolution” (£15), published by the BDHS, is a fascinating explanation of what happened in Battle after 1066. Battle’s best-selling book of 2019, “Battle at War 1939-45”, published by Battle Museum and with very surprising true stories, is still available at £8.50. Another fascinating book from Rother Books is by Henry Hemming, “Our Man in New York”: how Britain used dark arts to change public opinion in America and influence President Roosvelt’s decision to bring the USA into the Second World War.


The Battle Tapestry: published by Tina Greene, this book is at  Rother Books price £15. Tina describes the Tapestry project in detail, covering the relevant historical background and design of each scene, selection of materials, stitching techniques and many other facets of this fascinating work of art. Her book is fully illustrated with over 100 colour photographs, detailed diagrams and includes a list of all the stitchers!


Hastings Museum The “Wunderkammer : Hastings Curiosities Exhibition”,  started on Saturday 7 December and runs until 19 April 2020.  Hastings Museum is open from 10 am to 4 pm Tuesday to Saturday, and Sunday 12 noon to 4 pm.  Both the Hastings Museum and exhibition are free entry, and the exhibition itself will include a display of how objects are cleaned, documented and packed for return to the Museum stores. 

Battle Abbey relics Did you spot the article in the 18 December Guardian and Times about new research by English Heritage historian Michael Carter? He’s analysed a medieval manuscript listing 175 of the Abbey’s relics. A link to the Guardian article can be found below in 'News'

Renewing your membership of the BDHS: even if you only renew this month , you still get 8 talks for £14 single, £20 double. The process (a cheque or correct cash please) is quick and relatively painless, with Adrian and Sarah at the information desk. Jeremy Field will take over as Membership Secretary in January.  

If you’d like to volunteer to work in the Museum, you’ll find a friendly crowd, dedicated to promoting the town and its heritage. Usually the work involves being on duty half a day a week, 10-1 pm or 1pm to 4.30. There’s a wide range of jobs to be done including community and educational work but being comfortable interacting with the public is essential. Full training is given: Training Day is 10-1pm on Wednesday 11 March 2020 . If you have social media skills we also want to hear from you. Just ring Margaret Emeleus for a chat on 01424 772058 or email or pop in for a talk at Late Night Opening on 12 December.

Adrian and Sarah Hall January 2020


Meeting with the new Dean of Battle

The new Dean of Battle, the Very Reverend Lee Duckett, together with his wife Ange, were recently presented with some books from BDHS members Keith Foord and Tina Greene, which are concerned with the Church and the Battle Tapestry, currently on display there. BDHS hopes to develop some mutually beneficial projects based on the church's archives and the use of the church environmental space for exhibitions etc..

The Dark Ages' greatest Christmas relics were at Battle Abbey

The Guardian and other media have reported that a newly recognised medieval manuscript listing Battle Abbey's relics has been analysed and transcribed for the first time by English Heritage historian Michael Carter. It reveals that the relics were the most prestigious given to any abbey, more significant even than those at Westminster Abbey.

A report on this can be found at Carter's paper can also be found in full using this reference: Carter, M: The Relics of Battle Abbey: A Fifteenth-Century Inventory at The Huntington Library, San Marino The Journal of Medieval Monastic Studies 8 (2019)

Video: The Battle of Hastings. No - the Battle of Battle!!

BDHS Members Michael Hodge, Alan Judd and Peter Greene, working in close cooperation with Natasha Williams of English Heritage, have produced a video explaining where the Battle of Hastings actually took place and why we have a town called Battle. The video has been released by Mirador Television and can be found via Youtube link:

Archive update

Led by our Archivist Georgina Doherty a small group of members, assisted by James Clephane-Cameron,  is now creating a new searchable digital archive of items in the BDHS Archives. Archived items can be accessed via and by following the link on the banner to the left.

Volunteers from the membership to assist with copying records selected to be digitized would be very welcome. No computing knowledge is required. Please contact Georgina to discuss this valuable work either at Society meetings or via the Contacts page.

Battle Heritage Trails

The Per Bellum Patria orb in the Almonry gardens

Heritage trails around Battle have been given a new boost with a Sculpture trail with an associated Children's trail and booklet. The Town trail has also been given a facelift. To these add the Keene Trail, the GeoTourist History Trail and the Malfosse Walk and the visitor to Battle has many guides to choose from. Members of BDHS have contributed in many ways to ensure that the history is as correct as possible!

The Sculpture trail includes an orb in the Almonry garden hand carved by Elliot Brotherton which depicts local flora and fauna, and around its equator bears the motto PER BELLVM PATRIA, the motto of the Historical Society which has been adopted as the town motto. Other sculptures on the trail are at Cherry Gardens, Park Lane, Lake Field and Marley Gardens.

Information about all the trails can be obtained from the Almonry, Battle Museum of Local History and other local outlets and from The GeoTourist App can be downloaded to your smart phones.

Amazing find by BDHS

In the process of changing over BDHS archivists Gina Doherty and David Sawyer unexpectedly turned up an old small parchment that appeared to originate from Abbot Richard Tovey of Battle Abbey in 1493. Christopher Whittick of ESRO confirmed its authenticity This is a 'pass' entitling the carrier to travel freely in England and quoting the old charter rights of the abbey. Gina has produced an excellent summary of this find which can be read in Section A3.4 of Collectanea.  BDHS has also given a facsimile copy to Battle Abbey for future display.


L-R: Neil Clephane-Cameron, Keith Foord, George Kiloh, Gina Doherty, Natasha Williams (English Heritage) handing the parchment to Christopher Whittick (Vide-President of BDHS). Picture Peter Greene

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