Before I reached the battle site I passed by an open market. It was a small market selling flowers, books and other things. In one corner of the market I saw a display of many types of knives for sale. Surprisingly I found a kitchen knife from China. How interesting. I guess the previous owner must have been Chinese. She or he brought the knife from China and sold it when they left the UK and now it's for sale again in the market. I took a picture of the much travelled knife. Can you guess which one it is?
I did not walk too far from the market before I arrived at the main gatehouse of Battle Abbey. The picture below was taken in front of the main gatehouse. I was glad the site is located in the centre of Battle. It made the trip easier. Before I entered the main gatehouse I had totally no idea what happened here. According to the introduction I read the Battle of Hastings was fought here on 14 October in 1066. It’s the most famous battle fought on English soil and its outcome had a profound impact on the history of England. William the Conqueror's victory over Harold Godwinson marked the end of Anglo-Saxon England. The Norman Conquest introduced a new ruling class both in church and state as well as new landowners, laws and architecture.
Battle Abbey was founded here in 1070 to commemorate the Norman victory, and it was also built as an act of penance for the bloodshed of the conquest of England.
First I went to the visitor centre in which there is an exhibition called ‘1066: The Battle for England’. It was very informative and interesting. Now I had some idea about the history of England, especially the fascinating world of the Normans and the English on the eve of the battle. I also watched a short film that portrayed the dramatic events of 14 October 1066. The picture below shows armour and a bow that would have been used by both sides. I tried to pick up a sword and a shield that were on display but I failed because they were so heavy. So you can imagine how difficult the battle was for both sides.
Then I left the visitor centre and followed the footpath. There were two routes to explore the Battlefield. I took the longer one and walked around the site where the battle took place. Dotted along the walk were information panels. From these I gained a clear picture about what happened here nearly 1000 years ago. The next picture below was taken on the battlefield. Without being told you would find no difference with any other field in England.
From the picture below you can see the English army had an advantage by controlling the top of the hill. The Norman army was in difficulty to attack up a steep slope. However it was the Normans who won the battle. The other picture below shows the Abbey that was built to commemorate the battle.
About one hour I finished the battlefiled walk that was very impressive to stand there and imagine what happened almost 1000 years ago. I listened the story about the two leaders in the battle, especially the William Conqueror. Then I arrived the Abbey ruins.
The Abbey was laid out on a hillside with the church on the ridge. Completed in 1094, it housed up to 140 Benedictine monks. The picture below was taken from the down of the hillside from which the Roman army invated the English army. And the ruins you can see were a part of lavatorum of monks.
In the 13th century, the Abbey's growing wealth allowed the monks to replace most of the early buildings with those we see today. Many of these, including the church, were demolished after the Dissolution in 1538, when the Abbey became a country estate.
After years of gentle decline the duke and duchess of Cleveland, who lived here between 1857 and 1901 modernized the house.