Battle and District
                 Historical Society







LIVE Lecture

Dr Sophie Page will be talking on ‘Magic in the Middle Ages’ at 7.30 pm on Thursday 16 June 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: ‘Turkish Pirates in Kent in the Seventeenth Century’ by Professor Jackie Eales on Thursday 21 July.

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.

Guided Walks

The Darwell Area Conservation Society have announced their programme of walks for 2022.

Hornbeams, Hairstreaks & Hawkbits – Wed 22 and Sun 26 June: This new walk takes us round one of Mountfield’s most ancient farmsteads. In addition to the historical features, James Fraser will show us his restoration work in the the woods and fields, with astonishing results in the diversity of butterflies, other insect life, birds, water fowl, and wild flowers and grasses and more.

For full details of both walks, either contact Peter Miles on or visit

Battle Museum is reopening!

The Museum will open at 10am on Tuesday 14 June for the season: from then it will 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

Rare book predicting alien life: a copy of ‘the Celestial World Discover’d: Or Conjectures Concerning the Inhabitants, Plants and Production of the Worlds in the Planets’ by Christiaan Huygens, published in 1698, has been found at an antique valuation event in Moreton-in-Marsh. The author explores his fascination with the potential existence of extra-terrestrial being and questions why God would have created other planets ‘just to be looked’ upon from Earth. He concludes that aliens must have hands and feet because of their ‘convenience’ and also believed that aliens enjoyed astronomy and observation, sailed boats and listened to music but also suffered misfortunes, wars, afflictions and poverty ‘because that’s what leads us to invention and progress’. He ruled out the possibility of much larger animals than those currently existing on Earth because it was written before humans knew about dinosaurs. While the book’s content seemed ‘almost comical’, it was informed by the scientific reasoning of the time. The book is due to go to auction in July with a guide price of £2-3000.

Sutton Hoo: two of the greatest finds of Anglo-Saxon treasure have been reunited in an exhibition at Sutton Hoo. Precious artefacts uncovered in the 1939 excavation of Sutton Hoo will go on display alongside the Staffordshire Hoard. Research has shown striking similarities between the two treasures in terms of quality, animal art and materials. It is thought likely that the objects found in the Staffordshire Hoard were made in East Anglia in the early royal kingdom in the Anglo-Saxon period: they are among the finest artefacts from the medieval period from anywhere in Europe. The exhibition runs from 19 May to 30 October 2022 at Sutton Hoo.

DNA from Pompeii: researchers believe that, for the first time, they have successfully sequenced the human genome of a man who died after the eruption of Mt Vesuvius. Remains of a man aged between 35 and 40 was found in the House of the Craftsman. A comparison of his DNA with 1,030 other ancient and 471 modern western Eurasian people, suggested that his DNA shared the most similarities with modern central Italians and other people who lived in Italy during the Roman Imperial age. Further analysis identified groups of genes commonly found in people from Sardinia but not among other people who lived in Italy at the time. They also found sequences commonly found in Mycobacterium, which suggests that he might have been suffering from tuberculosis before he died.

Blenheim Palace: archaeologists have discovered what they believe to be the remains of a 14th century mill complex in the Queen Pool, prior to dredging work. The mill is believed to be associated with Woodstock Palace, a royal hunting lodge that played host to 16 British monarchs over its 700-year history, was the birthplace of the Black Prince and a temporary prison for the future Elizabeth I after the Wyatt uprising (it was demolished in 1720 to make way for the Palace). The mill was recorded as being demolished in 1334: the remains found this year comprise part of the stone-lined mill race, directing water from the mil and are surprising well-preserved and substantial. According to records, a small pond, known as the Queen Pond or Pool has existed on the present site since the Middle Ages: it is said to have been named after Queen Philippa, mother of the Black Prince. The name was retained by ‘Capability’ Brown for one of the lakes created when he flooded the valley to make his great waterworks.

Athenian Yearbook: a marble slab stored in the National Museums of Scotland collection for more than a century, has been discovered to be a ‘graduate school yearbook’ dating from the middle of the first century AD. It lists 31 friends who completed the Athenian ephebate – a year of military and civic training that was undertaken about the age of eighteen and intended to prepare them for life as adults. Professor Liddel from Manchester University explains ‘it gives us new names, names we’d never come across before in ancient Greek. It also gives us among the earliest evidence for non-citizens taking part in the ephebate in this period’.

Bronze Age Hoard: the hoard, comprising of axes, spear and bracelet fragments dating back to ca 1200BC have been declared national treasure. It was discovered Llanddeusant, Carmarthenshire, by a metal detectorist in a specially-dug pit, far from a local settlement: the large, bronze spear head which was snapped in half before its burial and placed on top of the hoard. It is thought possible that the breaking of the spearhead and the burial was carried out during a ceremony held by a local Bronze Age community, intended as a sacrifice to the gods.

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 ASRV has talks on cultural topics throughout the year. 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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