Where: Hastings, Sussex, Southeast coast of England
History: Epic battle where William the Conqueror and the Normans of France seized control of England
Go there for: Swashbuckling re-enactments and the very foundation stone of modern English history
Just outside the Sussex seaside town of Hastings is the site where one of the most significant battles in the history of England took place – the Battle of Hastings.
What’s the history here?
1066 is a date engraved on the minds of English schoolchildren almost as soon as they know their ABC. It’s the year that William the Conqueror of Normandy sailed over from France with his army of 12,000 men and claimed his place in history as the last successful invader of this green and pleasant land.
William was a distant cousin of the late king, Edward the Confessor, the monarch who built Westminster Abbey. He claimed that Edward had promised to make him heir to the English throne, so when Edward died and Harold became king, William was most aggrieved. William set out from Normandy to lay claim to a land he though was rightfully his.
The English put up a good fight but it was the death of their Anglo-Saxon ruler King Harold, allegedly speared through the eye by an arrow, which clinched the Norman victory.
What’s there to see and do?
– Every year in mid October enthusiasts flock to Hastings to re-enact the fateful battle. Complete with chain-mail armour and an unerring knowledge of the life and times of the Normans and Anglo-Saxons, they put on an entertaining and educational performance – though of course the ending’s always a foregone conclusion!
– Explore the magnificent ruins of Battle Abbey, built by William the Conqueror to celebrate his victory.
– The events of the Battle were graphically recorded in the Bayeaux Tapestry, a 230 ft woven cloth probably commissioned by Odo, Bishop of Bayeaux and William’s half-brother. The original tapestry is on display in the city of Bayeaux, Normandy, but you can see a print at the Battle Museum of Local History in Hastings.
Battle Tourist Information Centre
Tel: +44 (0)1424 773721
Fax: +44 (0)1424 773436
Battle Museum of Local History
Tel: +44 (0)1424 775955
Excellent site with detailed tourist information about Hastings and the surrounding area.
Fantastic site covering the Battle of Hastings in great detail, with great graphics too.
By Jess Halliday