HISTORY NEWSLETTER MAY 2023
The next talk is ‘The Resurrection of Tutankhamun’ by Professor Aidan Dodson at 7.30 pm on Thursday 18 May in the Wynne Room, Memorial Hall.
It would be much appreciated if you would wear a mask on entering the Memorial Hall until you have been to the Membership Desk. Many thanks for your help in this matter.
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 channel.
Date for the diary:‘The House of Dudley’ by Dr Joanne Paul at 7.30 pm on Thursday 15 June 2023.
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 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 on Collectanea – how Battle has celebrated coronations
Gina Doherty’s paper on ‘Coronations 1838-1953’, in which she looks at past ceremonies (particularly where they went wrong!) and how Battle has celebrated in the past is now available on the Society’s website. The reference number is P1.1 or click here.
Do pop in and visit the special exhibition this year is on ‘Royalty and Battle’ including images of the Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to the town in 1966 – the 900th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings. Correspondence included in the display records the Queen recalling the visit with pleasure. There is also a selection of items relating to previous coronations, jubilees and commemorations and items relating to Battle Abbey, surely the town’s earliest connection to royalty (opening hours are 10-4.30, Monday to Friday inclusive). Don’t forget that there is a Coronation Trail for children, which is proving very popular. The Museum is open for the Bank Holiday on Monday 8 May.
Find out too about Isaac Ingall, who was a Battle resident well-used to coronations. No living Battle resident can have lived in more than five reigns – George V, Edward VIII, George VI, Elizabeth II, and Charles III- and not even the oldest will be able to remember more than two previous Coronations, because Edward VIII was never crowned. But Isaac Ingall lived during the reigns of eight monarchs, if his tombstone near the east wall of St Mary’s church is to be believed. Born (probably/possibly!) in 1677, in the time of the Merry Monarch Charles II, he saw out the overthrow of James II, the double reign of Mary II and her Dutch husband William III, poor Queen Anne who died childless despite having given birth 17 times, and the Hanoverians George I and George II. He died in 1798 during the long reign of George III, “the mad king”. Isaac was a servant for the Webster family who owned Battle Abbey, employed by them for 90 years, a length of service comparable to that of our late Queen. He lived in one of the Gatehouse towers and became a tourist attraction, visited in his final year by the future William IV. Battle Museum commemorates the town’s oldest-ever resident with his portrait and his chair. His descendants still live in the area – it’s said you can spot a family resemblance! Isaac Ingall is buried in the cemetery in the grounds of St Mary’s Church, Battle.
History in the News
’Spectacular Find’: archaeologists have used satellite images to find three Roman military camps in the Arabian desert. The discovery may be evidence of potential surprise attacks during a previously undiscovered Roman military campaign linked to the Roman takeover of the Nabataean Kingdom in 106AD, a civilisation centred on the city of Petra. It is almost certain that the camps were built by the Roman army, given the typical playing card shape of the enclosures with opposing entrances on each side. Such temporary camps show how territory was acquired in the first place. The level of preservation is remarkable, considering that they may have only been used for a matter of days or weeks. They were built along a peripheral caravan route suggesting a strategy to bypass the more used route down to Wadi Sirhan, adding an element of surprise to the attack. According to researchers, the findings suggest Rome had to force its takeover, whereas the surviving Roman history argues the transfer of power was a peaceful event at the end of the reign of the last Nabataean king.
Lager: a new scientific study contends that lager was the outcome of two accidents: Baron von Degenberg could not have a son; Duke Maximilian I of Bavaria did not keep his brewery clean. Lager yeast comes from a hybridisation of two different yeasts – but how did they come together? Genetics tells us that this must have happened in about the 17th century – it would have to be a very rare event as back then brewing was local. In 16th century Bavaria, top-fermentation was banned to protect the regions bottom-brewing heritage. The problem was that top-fermented produce, namely wheat beer, was extremely popular. To undermine the imported market, in 1548 the Von Degenberg family was given a wheat-brewing licence. For half a century, Duke Maximilian I watched, jealous as the popularity of its wheat-beer rose. Then, when the baron died without an heir, he requisitioned the property, the licence and the beer. For the first time, under one roof, he brewed two beers, with two different yeasts, alternating batches. Somewhere along the way, the yeasts hybridised and lager was born.
Caligula’s pleasure boats: Caligula’s pleasure boats, including ample baths, galleries, saloons and a great variety of vines and fruit trees’ were renowned. Two of the boats, which had mosaics and piston pumps for hot water, were raised from Lake Nemi on the orders of Mussolini in the 1930s but were destroyed in 1944. A report at the time stated that they had been torched by Nazi troops. However, researchers have now found that this report was a cover up for the true culprit – an American army unit. The US 36th infantry division shelled the area and a caretaker for the Museum said the saw American shells hit the building on 31 May and a fire broke out two hours afterwards, seemingly unconnected with the shelling. Describing lights moving around the Museum after the attack, he accused vengeful Germans of pouring petrol on the boats and starting the blaze which reduced them to ashes. Now, researchers have concluded that four US shells had punctured the Museum roof, probably sending red-hot shrapnel directly onto the boats which were impregnated with highly flammable tar. Other bombed wooden structures took a similar time to burn. The Allies were keen to avoid taking the blame – they were already being called barbarians by the Germans and it would have been very embarrassing to admit hitting the boats. It is also argued that Salvatore Aurigemma, the Italian Heritage official who led the inquiry was keen to blame the Germans and win the Allies’ favour in an effort to gloss over his past ties to fascism.
Gardening History: the Royal Horticultural Society is launching a digital library of more than 10,000 items which allows the public to access the collection for free. Items include: the account book of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, which details his famous aristocratic and royal clients; Humphrey Repton’s ‘Red Book of Waresley Park’, a Georgian ‘lift the flap’ book of before and after garden designs; a letter from Charles Darwin to the influential gardener William Robinson, in which he instructed him to try cross-fertilising the Euryale ferox; the earliest known list of plants for sale, dating back to 1612; and the Royal Signatures section, which shows artworks commissioned by the RHS which have then be signed by their royal patron. The archive can be accessed via the RHS website.
Anglo-Saxon hoard: the recovery of 44 Anglo-Saxon coins, dating from around 870, that were hawked on the international black market has helped reshape historians’ understanding of English history. Alfred the Great, King of Wessex, was leading resistance to the Viking invaders in the struggle that would eventually lead to the creating of a unified Kingdom of England. The lesser known, Ceolwulf II, King of Mercia had been thought of as a Viking ‘puppet’ ruler. However, among the coins recovered, were two extremely rare examples of two-headed coins bearing images of both Alfred and Ceolwulf. Historians now believer that the two kings were much more closely aligned than previously believed and had a prolonged political and economic alliance. The ground-breaking coins are now in the British Museum.
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