Battle and District
                 Historical Society





Next Lecture

The next talk is ‘Writers of Romney Marsh’ by Alan Judd at 7.30 pm on Thursday 18 July in the Wynne Room, Battle Memorial Hall. A video of the lecture will be circulated soon after on the Society’s private YouTube channel.

Date for the Diary : as usual, there will be break in August, but an exciting programme for 2024/5 begins with ‘Gypsum and the Mountfield Mine’ by David Alderton at 7.30 pm on Thursday 19 September, Battle Memorial Hall.

Society Facebook Page

Don’t forget to check out the 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.

Can You Help?

If you have any spare time and would like to help, we are still looking for someone to organise the Society’s attendance at events, primarily the annual Battle of Hastings Re-enactment at Battle Abbey. If you are interested, there will be an opportunity to understudy at this year’s Re-enactment on the weekend of 12-13 October to find out what is involved.

If you would like to help, please email in the first instance.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Battle Museum

Do remember to visit the Museum to see the new exhibition ‘Battle High Street’ (opening hours Monday-Saturday 10.00am-4.30 pm). The title for the 2024 exhibition is ‘Battle High Street’. The exhibition focuses on some of the businesses that were once a feature of the High Street – some for centuries – but are now no longer trading , although in some cases the names are remembered in various ways. Featured businesses include The Old Pharmacy/K Emeleus and Son, R H Allworks, Newbery Preserves, Thorpes, Tills, Blacksmith’s Restaurant and Burstow & Hewitt (which of course is still going strong but is no longer at its original site of 13 High Street).

If you are interested in volunteering for next season, please contact the Museum via its website or by phone during opening hours (see above) on 01424 775955.

History in the News

Hever Castle: the new ‘Boleyn Apartment’ opened on Wednesday 26 June. This
suite of rooms is the only known set that the Boleyn family lived in to have survived
unmodified and are presented in a way that would have been familiar to Anne, with
rush matting on the floor, walls adorned with friezes or tapestries and rooms filled
with 16th century furniture. Anne’s changing status is also explained, as she
progressed from landowner’s daughter to future queen. The apartment reflects her
experience of the courses in the Netherlands and France, her interest in the French
language, literature and philosophy, and particularly music. Her personal
prayerbooks, including a recently discovered Book of Hours, are displayed in a
separate room on the same floor.

Athelstan Route: the Athelstan Pilgrim Way, a 100-mile new walking and cycling
route, has opened which will link 36 churches across North Wiltshire. The route
takes in some of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the historic
churches range from Bremilham, the smallest church in England, to Malmesbury
Abbey. It is named after Athelstan, the first king of a united England, who chose
Malmesbury as his capital and is buried in its Abbey after his death in 939AD.
Initially, the Way will link 13 walks taking in 13 churches, with more being linked next

Attingham Park: a survey 0f 1,000 hectares at Attingham Park in Shropshire has
revealed more of the history of the site, from Iron Age farms, to Anglo-Saxon forts to
a World War II airfield. Most notable perhaps was the discovery of two Roman villas
in the grounds, thought to be on a road which lead out of Wroxeter Roman city.
While it appears that they were working farms, these homes would have been very
valuable properties: assuming they are like other Roman villas of a similar size in
Britain, they would have had underfloor heating, a bath house, mosaic floors and
painted plaster. There are currently no plans to excavate the site.

Cave art: a painting of three human-like figures interacting with a wild pig have been
discovered on a cave wall in Sulawesi, Indonesia. The painting is at least 51,200
years old, pre-dating by more than 30,000 years the famous Stone Age depictions of
horses and bison found in the Lascaux caves in southern France. The scientists
who have dated the frieze are convinced that it was painted to convey a narrative:
they believe it could be a hunting scene or ‘an artist’s impression of a bunch of
hunter-gatherers sitting around a fire in Sulawesi 51,000 years ago telling some
fantastical story about the relationship between humans and animals.

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)

Lectures in the programme include Hollywood in the 1930s, From Negative to Positive: Photography’s long road to recognition as art, Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de St Georges: the African Mozart, 1850’s London, Elizabeth Vigee le Brun: trail blazer, and A piece of the Auction: Behind the scenes at an international auction house.

For further details, please check the ASRV website or contact Pat Arrowsmith, Membership Secretary, on 07838 214675.


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 (Vice-President of BDHS). Picture Peter Greene

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