Battle and District
                 Historical Society







LIVE Lecture

Professor Jackie Eales will be talking on ‘Turkish Pirates in Kent in the Seventeenth Century’ at 7.30pm on Thursday 21 July in the Main Hall, Memorial Hall. PLEASE NOTE it is going to be live only – there will be no live 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: the Society takes a break in August. Oliver Everett will be talking on ‘Buckingham Palace’ at 7.30pm on Thursday 15 September.

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.

Sedlescombe Exhibition

An exhibition of images and information from Sedlescombe’s Archives will be held at Chapel Hill Church, Chapel Hill, Sedlescombe, TN33 0QX at the following times:

2pm – 4.30pm Friday 15 July

10am – 4.30pm Saturday 16 July

A wide range of interesting historical facts about the Village, supported by images, will be displayed as well as Sedlescombe Annual Fete Photographs taken between 1975 and 2000

Battle Museum is open!

The Museum opened at 10am on Tuesday 14 June for the season: it will now be open from 10am – 4.30pm on Tuesdays – Thursdays inclusive, until the end of October.

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

HMS Gloucester: the wreck of the ship, which sank in 1682 with the future James II on board, has been found by amateur divers in what experts have described as the most significant discovery since the Mary Rose. It was found in 2007 about 27 miles off the coast of Great Yarmouth but it was not until 2012 that the ship’s bell was used to identify the vessel. Since then, extensive work has been carried out to protect the ‘at risk’ site in international waters. Historians believe that the behaviour of James, then Duke of York helped sow the seeds of rebellion among both a close adviser, and the Controller of the Navy, who would later assist efforts to depose him. On 6 May, the ship ran aground following a dispute involving the Duke, a former Lord High Admiral, who insisted the pilot followed his course. The Duke delayed abandoning ship, needlessly costing the lives of 250 people who, because of protocol, could not leave before royalty: he accepted no responsibility, instead blaming the pilot, James Ayres, who was court martialled and imprisoned for life – he was mysteriously released after a year, disappearing from history. Did Charles II know that he was not to blame? There will be an exhibition of finds from the wreck in Norwich between February and July next year.

Prehistoric mystery: 8,000 frog bones have been discovered near the site of an Iron Age home near Cambridge. They were all recovered from a 14-metre-long ditch next to the roundhouse site at Bar Hill, where there was a settlement between 400BC-43AD. It is not unusual for frog bones to be found at ancient sites but the sheer quantity in this case is baffling archaeologists!

Golden Road: a newly discovered ancient Roman route in Pembrokeshire could have been used to import gold from Ireland. Dr Merrony, Oxford University, believes that the 40-50km route stretches just north of Carmarthen to St Davids, near to Whitesands Bay, the closest crossing to Ireland south of Anglesey. The route could also have been used to move Pembrokeshire’s bluestones to Stonehenge, although there is no way to prove this idea. The route also suggests that Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire were fully integrated into Roman Britain, as it could only have been constructed by an army.

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)

Future lecture topics include: Dale Chihuly – the world’s foremost glass artist; Tantrums and Tiaras – Covent Garden; Cash for Coronets – an architectural legacy; and Gregorio Vasari – artist, architect and historian. 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

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