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Posted on Nov 18, 2005 in Front Page Features, Stuff We Like

Battlefield Tour – Hastings

Armchair General



In the Courthouse adjoining the Gatehouse, windy spiral stairs take visitors up into the Museum on the first floor. Be careful on those lower steps – they are seriously steep and narrow!

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The Museum details the many phases of the Abbey’s construction, details of the battle itself, lines of succession to the English throne and lots of other useful and interesting information about the history deeply embedded within these walls.


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Some of the displays house artefacts uncovered during archaeological works, others explain how the Abbey was funded and daily working life for those within.

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The picture on the left is a copy of an auction paper from a previous sale of the Abbey in 1901. Sir Augustus Webster bought the Abbey and the grounds at that time, and the site stayed in the hands of the Webster family until 1976 when it was purchased by the British Government with the assistance of the US donations refered to earlier. And to the right, a Garderobe Chamber – the medieval name for a lavatory. Lovely!

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Oh, and the Gatehouse contains a shop – and amongst other things, it seems visitors are able to buy replica armour and chainmail…anyone fancy a re-enactment?



Leaving the grounds of the Gatehouse to head towards the main parts of the Abbey and the battlefield, visitors are taken through the new "Prelude to Battle" exhibition.

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This display of panels does an excellent job of telling the background story of the battle from both sides – Harold’s followers explain why he had the right to the throne, whilst Williams’s supporters decry the fact that he was denied the English Crown. Reading the contemporaneous accounts of all involved brings the story to life and explains why conflict became inevitable.

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Some of the panels include excerpts from the Bayeux Tapestry, a contemporary embroidery work on linen, approximately 230 feet in length and some 20 inches high. The original resides in the town of Bayeux, Normandy and recounts in pictures the lead-up to the Battle of Hastings, and the details of the battle itself. It’s unclear who commissioned this impressive work of art, but the work may have been carried out by English women from Canterbury.

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1 Comment

  1. Nice work, Andrew. I appreciate the photos of the battlefield. I am a public historian (M.A. plus public history training and work experience) and I would give anything to come over give tours of that special place. Thank you for the photo tour. I enjoyed it. Best, Jim