Battle and District
                 Historical Society







LIVE Lecture

Professor Clive Bloom will be talking on ‘Thatcher’s Secret War: Subversion, Coercion, Secrecy and Government’ at 7.30 pm on Thursday 19 May in the Main Hall, Memorial Hall. PLEASE NOTE it is going to be live only – there will be no ZOOM transmission and no YouTube video.

It would be much appreciated if you would wear a mask on entering the Memorial Hall until you have been to the Membership desk. Masks are not required in the Main Hall. Many thanks for your help in this matter.

We do hope that you will be able to join us!

Date for the diary: ‘Magic in the Middle Ages’ by Dr Sophie Page on Thursday 16 June.

Society Facebook Page

If you have not already done so, do not forget to check out the new BDHS Facebook page. For those who are Facebook users, please find it at or by searching for Battle and District Historical Society when logged into your Facebook account. Remember to like and follow the page to get notification of our posts.

Guided Walks

The Darwell Area Conservation Society have announced their programme of walks for 2022.

Through Trees & Time – Friday 13, Sunday 22 and Sunday 29 May: Peter Miles has continued to research and refine this walk over the last eight years. In that time more features have come to light, most notably a Romano-British bloomery site; the research on some features such as the 13thC moated manor house site has advanced; and the overall history of settlement in the East Sussex Weald has been revised (as yet unpublished).

This walk uncovers clues as to why our local landscape looks as it does. The very short route (less than a mile) is astonishingly rich in historical features covering 20 centuries, particularly Romano-British, Anglo-Saxon, medieval, Tudor and 19thC. The talk is illustrated throughout with hand-round pictures and handleable archæological finds.

Hornbeams, Hairstreaks & Hawkbits – Wed 22 and Sun 26 June: This new walk takes us round one of Mountfield’s most ancient farmsteads. In addition to the historical features, James Fraser will show us his restoration work in the the woods and fields, with astonishing results in the diversity of butterflies, other insect life, birds, water fowl, and wild flowers and grasses and more.

For full details of both walks, either contact Peter Miles on or visit

Battle Museum needs you!

The Museum is currently undergoing refurbishment to improve its ventilation system but will re-open in June. There are openings for volunteers to welcome visitors and guide them round the exhibits. If you have any spare time and are interested in Battle’s history, please “Contact Us” using the link on the left.

History in the News

What did the Anglo-Saxon elite eat?: a traditional image is a banquet table overflowing with meat and ale. However, recent research by from the University of Cambridge and University of Edinburgh suggest that the reality was somewhat different. A study of ancient bones suggest that the early English elite ate very similar diets to their subjects, with meals consider of ‘pottages of leeks and whole grains with a little meat thrown in’ or bread leavened with ‘small quantities of meat and cheese’. The mistaken impression came from surviving food lists: academics examined 10 in total, using the number of bread rolls listed to assess the numbers at the feast and found that the foods listed were about enough to provide 300 guests with a 4.140 calorie meal, including large amounts of beef, mutton and fish as well as cheese, honey and ale. This strongly suggests that these were menus for feasts not everyday meals. Instead, when remains of 2,023 individuals from the 5th to 11th century were examined, it was found there were not links between higher classes and higher protein intake. Their research also concluded that the large banquets were not the preserve of elite: feasts for 300 means a lot of farmers must have been there – they suggest that rather than being forced to pay a food tax for their masters’ enjoyment, the elite would have been wooing their subjects.

Greasley Castle: the magnificent ‘lost’ 14th century castle, which once rivalled one of the finest in Britain, has been identified amid a series of grassy mounds and old farm buildings. It was built for the soldier and politician Nicholas de Cantelupe and at its height, hosted the Archbishop of York but after a later owner fought for Richard III at Bosworth, it was confiscated and was a roofless ruin by 1596. A new study shows that it was a large courtyard castle, which surpassed nearby Haddon Hall for size and opulence. Clues in the remaining buildings reveal it had corner turrets and a great hall accessed via an impressive doorway and illuminated by tracery windows. Fragments of stonework revealed ornate decoration including carved head sculptures, moulded copings, and the crown of a vault.

Pewsey Hoard: the hoard of 161 Roman coins was found by three detectorists in September 2020. The hoard includes silver Siliqua and Miliarense coins, dating from AD340-402. It is thought that they were buried during the last years of the Roman Empire by people looking to protect their valuables from Saxon raids. Virtually all the coins are in mint condition. The detectorists are keeping some of the coins and the British Museum is adding two to their collection; the remaining coins are now going to auction.

Other history articles in the press: If any member spots an interesting history article, just email a scan of it to and we’ll feature an edited version of it in the next Newsletter.

The Arts Society Rother Valley (ASRV)

The ASRV has talks on cultural topics throughout the year. Please first check the ASRV website or talk with Jenny Fairfax on 01424 421344.


Sarah Hall


Online Archive Update – September 2021

Exciting news! We now have a great new resource available online. The original Battle Town Index, identified by advisers from the National Archives as potentially the most important item in our archive, was recorded on a series of Index cards. Members of our Society started the Index with the aim of recording information on the use and occupants of all the buildings in the town centre. Information, gleaned mainly from trade and other directories, was recorded up to the early 1990s. The online version of the Index has been edited so that beyond 1940 only information on businesses and a few private individuals reasonably assumed now dead have been included in the online version. This complies with the recommendations of the National Archives on publication of material which is covered by the Data Protection Act. It still, however, provides a wealth of information and is found in our online archive as a series of searchable .pdf files. Go to our archive page The Battle & District Historical Society Archives and search for Battle Town Index to see the available .pdf files. When you have downloaded the file you can find the search function by clicking on the magnifying glass symbol and entering your search term.

Website news

The British Library is going to archive our website in the UK Web Archive and to make it publicly available via that route. The UK Web Archive was established in 2004 to capture and archive websites from the UK domain and across the web, responding to the challenge of a digital black hole in the nations memory. It contains specially selected websites that represent different aspects of UK heritage on the web, as well as important global events. We work closely with leading international institutions to collect and permanently preserve the web, and the open UK Web Archive can be seen at
Also an on-line version of the BDHS Journal for 2019 has been added – see Previous BDHS Journals

Meet our new President

Our new President, Professor David Bates, gave his inaugural lecture entitled ‘Writing a Biography of William the Conqueror’ at a very well attended meeting on 16 January. His presentation was well received and afterwards David had the opportunity to meet many members of the Society and be photographed with all members of the BDHS Committee. He also gave another lecture – by Zoom on 15th October. This was about ‘New thoughts on the Bayeux Tapestry’.

Meeting with the new Dean of Battle

The new Dean of Battle, the Very Reverend Lee Duckett, together with his wife Ange, has been 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 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:

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

Cookies and Privacy | Charity Number: 292593