Battle and District
                 Historical Society





Next Lecture

The next talk is ‘Recording Our Past Together with the Portable Antiquities Scheme in Sussex’ by Jane Clark, at 7.30 pm on Thursday 18 April 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 : ‘Batting for Merrie England’ by Roy Hyde at 7.30 pm on Thursday 16 May, 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.

Battle Museum

The Museum is now open for the Season (Monday-Saturday 10.30am-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 with them 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

Anglo-Saxon Rood: a rare and hidden Anglo-Saxon rood, ‘a significant and important work of art’, has been conserved at St Mary’s Church in Breamore Hants. The life-sized bas relief showing Christ crucified, with Mary and John on either side, was created in the 11th century, at a time when depictions of the suffering of Christ were only starting to appear and would have been new to the worshippers. The rood is on the upper walls of the south porch because the room was used as a chapel in the Middle Ages. Worshippers stood in the small, enclosed space on the same level as the imagery.

Roman helmet: a ‘bling’ Roman helmet, decorated with silver and gold, discovered along with 5000 gold coins, has gone on display in Market Harborough. The helmet has been dated to the mid-1st Century AD, which saw the full-scale invasion by four Roman legions. Made with precious metals and superb craftsmanship, the helmet gives new insights into an era of rapid change: it is extremely high status and would have been worn by a high-ranking officer, showing how well-connected the Leicester area was at the time. The fact that the Romans used roughly equal numbers of non-Roman soldiers as Romans means the helmet could have several stories behind it.

Roman concrete: while modern concrete can break down after 50 years, more than a thousand years after the western Roman Empire fell, its concrete structures are still standing. The Pantheon, for example, would not exist without the concrete as it was in the Roman times. Scientists have finally discovered the reason for its durability. Marcus Vitruvius, a Roman Engineer in 30 BC, listed the constituents: it called for a mixture of volcanic ash, lime and sea water, mixed together with volcanic rocks and spread into wooden moulds that were then immersed in seawater. It appears that the quicklime was not mixed with water before it was added to the other ingredients; the high temperatures produced would have reduced the water content in and around the lime clasts. The resulting clasts could have helped the concrete to ‘self heal’ as water seeping through the cracks in the material would dissolved calcium carbonate as it passed through the lime clasts. This discovery will hopefully be key to improving modern concrete.

Ravenser: the story of a town lost to the sea more than 650 years ago will be told at an exhibition in Hull. The town’s original charter signed by King Edward I on 1 April 1299, is being loaned by the National Archives. Ravenser became a thriving Humber port in medieval times with two MPs, warehouses, a large fishing fleet and was a rival to at least Grimsby and Hull. The town was lost in the 1360s. In 2022, a sonar underwater search revealed sand dunes on the seabed, suggesting structures underneath.

Medieval horses: archaeologists studying a medieval animal cemetery have revealed that horses had the status of modern-day supercars. The remains include those of physically elite equines that were imported for jousting tournaments: analysis showed that they came from Scandinavia, the Alps, Spain and Italy. They were sourced specifically for their height and strength: the cemetery included three of the tallest animals known from late medieval England were found in the cemetery. Although small by modern standards, the horses of 15.3 hands would have been impressive in their day In medieval times, the cemetery would have been located outside the walls of the City of London but was close to the royal palace complex at Westminster.

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 next lecture is ‘Bath: the story of a city’ on 15 April. 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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