About Battle Abbey and Battlefield
Battle Abbey and Battlefield is the site on which the decisive Battle of Hastings took place in October 1066. It now holds the ruins of the Norman abbey built shortly after the battle, as well as a modern visitor centre detailing the site’s significant place in history.
Battle Abbey and Battlefield history
The Battle of Hastings in 1066 was one of Britain’s most important historical events, following which William, Duke of Normandy – largely known as William the Conqueror – was crowned King of England.
During the battle against the Anglo-Saxon King Harold Godwinson, the Normans adopted the tactic of pretending to flee before turning on their attackers. Near the battle’s close, Godwinson was killed causing much of his army to retreat, resulting in William the Conqueror’s victory.
In 1090, Pope Alexander II ordered the Normans to do penance for all the lives taken during their conquest of England, following which William vowed to build an abbey to commemorate the fallen dead. It was completed following his death in 1094 by his son William Rufus, with its high altar placed on the supposed spot Harold Godwinson was slain.
Battle Abbey and Battlefield today
Today Battle Abbey is managed by English Heritage and features a museum exploring William the Conqueror’s victory at Hastings, the events that led up to it, and its aftermath. The museum uses a combination of multimedia and traditional exhibits to guide visitors through the Battle of Hastings, with audio guides also available to help you explore the 100-acre battlefield.
The Abbey’s atmospheric ruins also still stand at the site, with the medieval dormitory building, including the Novices Common Room, and parts of the cloisters still visible. In the medieval gatehouse is also an exhibition on the abbey’s history since 1066, with a number of artefacts and recreated objects on display.
Getting to Battle Abbey and Battlefield
Battle Abbey and Battlefield is located in the town of Battle, on the A2100 off the A21. There is a large carpark at the entrance, while a number of bus services go to Abbey Stop, a 2-minute walk away. The nearest train station is Battle Station, a 15-minute walk away.