Battle and District
                 Historical Society





Next Lecture

The next talk is ‘Batting for Merrie England’ by Roy Hyde, at 7.30 pm on Thursday 16 May in the Wynne Room, Battle Memorial Hall. This talk is an explanation of where cricket came from, how it came to form part of the national consciousness, and how it represented certain aspects of ‘Englishness’. 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 : ‘Women and Work in Tudor Stuart and Kent’ by Professor Jackie Eales at 7.30 pm on Thursday 20 June, 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.

New addition to the Archives: Sedlescombe History

The ‘Sedlescombe Histories’ of Pauline Raymond are now available in the archives; they can be easily accessed from the front page of this website.

Can you help?

Society Journal: the editor of the annual Journal is giving up in August/September after eight years. It isn’t a particularly laborious task and the current editor can explain all!

Events: the Society is also looking for someone to organise the Society’s attendance at events, primarily the annual Re-Enactment at Battle Abbey. If you are interested, there will be an opportunity to take understudy at this year’s Re-Enactment on the weekend of 12-13 October to find out what is involved.

If you have the time to help with either of the above, please email in the first instance. We look forward to hearing from you!

Battle Museum

Do remember to visit the Museum to see the new exhibition ‘Battle High Street’ (opening hours Monday-Saturday 10.00am-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

1700-year-old book: the oldest known book in private hands and is coming up for sale at Christies in June. The Crosby-Schoyen Codex is a collection of early Christian texts from North Africa, written in Coptic on papyrus, and is among the most important texts of early Christianity: it was created at the time the codex was replacing papyrus scrolls. The manuscripts provide vital evidence of the Judaeo-Christian tradition at the height of the Roman Empire, before the conversion of Constantine in 312, and when Christianity was merely a victimised sect. It contains the first complete versions of the Book of Jonah and the First Epistle of Peter.

Industrial Revolution: historians from the University of Cambridge have found that the move to modernity may have begun much earlier that the transformation wrought by the master of steam power and machines in the 18th century. Three centuries of employment records reveal that agricultural employment plummeted during the reign of the Stuarts, as labourers began making goods rather than working in the fields: during the reign of Elizabeth I adult males were usually involved in agriculture; by 1700, the number had fallen to below 50 per cent. It has also been discovered that the service economy, identified as a feature of modern consumer nations, had been booming in Britain since 1800. This trend away from agricultural work continued to the eve of the Industrial Revolution, priming Britain for the transformative innovations of the factory system, steam power and machines.

‘The British Cheer’: a new book suggests that generations of military historians have overlooked the significance of ‘the British Cheer’ in the victory against the French in the Napoleonic wars. Soldiers yelled a variety of words during battle including ‘hurrah’ and ‘huzza’, as well as many similar terms such as ‘hooray’, ‘hussaw’ and ‘huzzay’. The cheer was often mentioned in accounts, described as ‘thundering’, ‘exhilarating’ and ‘thrilling’. The French equivalent did not seem to have a similar impact. One example is provided by veteran William Surtees who wrote in 1813 ‘[The French] now began to get courage … but my commanding officer calling out to cheer out people, which had the effect of intimidating them and they did not dare advance’.

Plato: advanced scanning techniques are revealing the secrets of hard to read papyrus scrolls which were carbonised at the Roman city of Herculaneum after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79AD. The legibility of The History of the Academy by Philodemus has increased by 30 per cent and describes the Athens school established by Plato in the 4th Century BC (the scroll was one of many discovered in a villa at Herculaneum, thought to have belonged the father-in-law of Julius Caesar). The research has revealed that Plato was buried in the garden of the Academy, near to a sacred shrine to the Muses.

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 on 2 May is ‘The Corsican Adventurer: Images of Napoleon’. Other lectures in the programme include Hollwood in the 1930s, From Negative to Positive: Photography’s long road to recognition as art, Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de St Georges: the African Mozart, 1850’s London, Elizabeth Vigee le Brun: trail blazer, and A piece of the Auction: Behind the scenes at an international auction house.

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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