Battle and District
                 Historical Society





Next Lecture

The next talk is ‘The History of the Kent and Sussex Railway: Then and Now’ by David Nibloe at 7.30 pm on Thursday 16 February 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 Piltdown Man Hoax’ by Dr Miles Russell at 7.30 pm on Thursday 16 March 2023.

Membership Renewal

If you have not already done so, please remember to renew your membership for the year. Renewal information was sent out via email so if you have not received the material, please do check to see if the message has gone to your Spam folder. Any enquiries should be addressed to Jeremy Field at

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.

St Barnabas Church, Bexhill

Are you interested in doing some research? St Barnabas Church is looking for enthusiastic, committed people to research the history and collect stories and memories from the Bexhill community relating to the church. This is an opportunity to become part of a unique team and St Barnabas’ ongoing history. For more details, please email Judith Meredith, the Victorian Heyday Lead, at the following email address:

History in the News

HMS Erebus: the wreck was found on the Arctic seabed in 2014. It was thought to have been crushed by the ice after departing England in 1845, together with HMS Terror, both ships being under the command of John Franklin (both ships disappeared along with 129 men). Archaeologists have now recovered a hoard of 275 rare artefacts, including a folio that could contain handwriting from a crew member – it even has the feather quill pen still tucked inside the cover. Other items include an eyeglass lens, serving dishes, plates and a lieutenant’s epaulettes. Since its discovery, Parks Canada are recording physical changes to the wreck – one of the best preserved in the world – which are likely to have been caused by waves generated by windstorms

Kent shipwreck: a 16th century shipwreck has been found by quarrymen near Dungeness in Kent. They were dredging for aggregates in a gravel quarry when they came across 147 timbers, mostly from a section of the ship’s hull (the coastline has of course changed considerably). The absence of other artefacts suggests that the ship had reached shore or perhaps run aground. Analysis has shown the timber to have been cut in Kent between 1560 and 1580: it is hoped that this information will enable the vessel to be identified. The team carefully assembled the hull section and made a 3D model. The original was buried near where it was found.

Medieval necklace: a gold necklace, dating from 630-670 AD has been found near Northampton, in a grave thought to be of a woman of high status. It is of such quality that it is regarded as ‘the find of a lifetime’ and internationally significant. It has at least 30 pendants and beads made of Roman coins, gold, garnets, glass and semi-precious stones. The rectangular pendant with a cross motif forms the centrepiece of the necklace and is the largest and most intricate element: made of garnets set in gold, experts believe it was originally part of the hinged clasp before it was re-used. The grave also contained an elaborately decorated cross, featuring highly unusual depictions of human faces cast in silver, which suggests the woman may have been an early Christian leader.

English Civil War: archaeologists along the HS2 line have found evidence of what could be one of the first skirmishes of the war. The first recorded battle was the Battle of Curdworth Bridge, a short distance from Coleshill Manor. The Manor would have been in a strategic position that the Parliamentarians would have wanted to control. Around 200 impact marks have been found on a heavily fortified medieval gatehouse, along with more than 40 musket balls. It is possible that this is evidence of the earliest skirmish of the Civil War.

Shipwreck off Eastbourne: a wreck, which lies 105ft under water, has been identified as the Klein Hollandia, a Dutch warship which sank in 1672. Much of the wooden hull has been found, together with cannons, Italian marble tiles and pieces of Italian pottery. The tiles, which came from the Apuan Alps quarries near Carrara in Italy were bound for the Netherlands and would have been used to build high-status homes. The Klein Hollandia was involved in all major battles in the second Anglo-Dutch War (1665-67). In 1672, the ship was part of the squadron escorting the Smyrna fleet while sailing from the Mediterranean into the English Channel, en route to the Netherlands. Passing the Isle of Wight, the squadron was attacked by an English squadron under Admiral Holmes, resulting in the Klein Hollandia being damaged and its commander killed. The ship sank shortly afterwards with both English and Dutch sailors on board.

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 still has talks on cultural topics during the rest of its season until April 2023. Topics include: Cash for Coronets – an architectural legacy; Gregorio Vasari – artist, architect and historian; and Glamorous Nights: Musicals between the Wars. 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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