HISTORY NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 2024
The next lecture is ‘Battle Abbey and the Vellomaniacs : the vicissitudes of the monastic archive’ by Christopher Whittick at 7.30 pm on Thursday 15 February in the Wynne Room, Battle Memorial Hall. We do hope you will be able to join us. A video of the lecture will be circulated soon after on the Society’s private YouTube channel.
Date for the Diary : ‘Life on a Whatlington Farm in late Victorian Times’ by Charlotte Moore at 7.30 pm on Thursday 21 March, 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 https://facebook.com/BattleHistorySociety 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.
New Addition to the Archives
In 1913, Thomas Eldridge owned ‘Eldridge and Son Grocery and Drapery Store’ on the corner of Cottage Lane and New Cut Westfield. He also took photos for the people of Westfield and a box of 84 glass negative prints have survived. Digital images made from the original glass plates can be viewed by kind permission of their owner, Kay Cornes. More details (and a link) are available on the home page.
The Museum is now closed for the winter. If you are interested in volunteering with them for next season, please leave your details on 01424 775955 (voicemail).
History in the News
17th Century Trading Token: a rare trading token issued by a 17th century businesswoman has been found by a detectorist. Rebecca Murril took over her husband’s bakery business after his early death and issued tokens in her own name between 1653 and 1655: such tokens were essential to the running of a business in the mid 17th century due to a shortage of officially issued coins. She was the only woman to issue tokens in her own name out of 43 businesses in Great Yarmouth. In 1655, she remarried a fellow baker who issued a token with both their initials. The token will be on display at Norwich Castle Museum.
Roman ‘slave-fighter’ chic: an incredibly rare piece of a Roman soldier’s armour, inspired by gladiators, has been reconstructed from more than 100 ancient fragments. The 1800 year old shattered brass arm guard is the third – and most complete – to be found in the entire Roman empire. The fragments were found at the Trimontium fort site near Melrose, in 1906. The arm guard will be on display at the British Museum in their forthcoming exhibition. Similar guards were used as arm protection by gladiators but it was unusual for such items to be worn by the Roman military. It was both for protection as well as a status symbol – brass was expensive and it would have gleamed like gold on his sword arm.
Pagan Cemetery: : a 1000 year old cemetery has been discovered near Kyiv, with skeletons buried with rings round their necks and buckets on their feet. They were also found with axes, swords, spears, jewellery and chicken bones in what is thought to be a pagan mass grave. Archaeologists also found a stone altar, as well as bracelets, beads and remains of food offerings like eggshells. At the time the cemetery was in use, people in Ukraine were in the process of converting to Christianity.
Roman ‘flat-packed’ funeral furniture: an excavation near Holborn Viaduct has unearthed a 2000-year-old burial site, containing some of the earliest Roman artefacts in Britain. Archaeologists have uncovered the first complete funerary bed in the UK, likened to flat-packed furniture, which would have been used to carry the deceased to the grave. The oak bed, or ‘bier’, was found remarkably well preserved by mud of the now subterranean River Fleet, six metres below street level. Five rare timber coffins were also found at the site. Skeletal remains and grave goods, such as beads, a glass vial and an ornate glass lamp dating from the earliest period of Roman occupation were also found. Traces of later London which grew on top of this Roman cemetery have also been discovered, including medieval timber-lined wells and a 16th century pumping device.
Other history articles in the press: If any member spots an interesting history article, just email a scan of it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll feature an edited version of it in the next Newsletter.
The Arts Society Rother Valley (ASRV)
This season’s topics include: 2B or not 2B? An illustrated history of drawing; Benevenuto Cellini; what have the Huguenots ever done for us; Joseph Wright of Derby; the Valois Dukes of Burgundy; the music of Dimitry Shostakovich; and the story of the city of Bath. For further details, please check the ASRV website https://www.theartssocietyrothervalley.org.uk or contact Pat Arrowsmith, Membership Secretary, on 07838 214675.
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 http://bdhsarchives.com 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.
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 http://www.webarchive.org.uk/.
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 https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2019/dec/18/a-bit-of-manger-st-nicholass-bone-the-dark-ages-greatest-christmas-relics.Michael 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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDe8uyKXL9Y
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