Battle Abbey seen across the Battle of Hastings battlefield

Battle Abbey and 1066 Battlefield: history and stories

The Battle of Hastings, fought on 14 October 1066, is one of the best-known events in England’s history, when William of Normandy defeated the army of King Harold of England. The battlefield owes its survival to William the Conqueror, who founded Battle Abbey on the exact spot where Harold died as penance for the bloodshed of the Norman Conquest. The abbey thrived as a Benedictine monastery for over 400 years, and after its suppression in 1538 the abbot’s lodging was transformed into a grand country house.

Find out much more about the Battle of Hastings and the history of Battle Abbey here.

History of the abbey

  • A reconstruction drawing of Battle Abbey church

    History of Battle Abbey

    Read an in-depth history of the abbey founded by William the Conqueror after the Battle of Hastings, from its foundation to its suppression and after.

  • Gaming piece and die excavated at Battle Abbey

    Battle Abbey Collection Highlights

    The objects excavated at Battle Abbey give us a wealth of insights into the everyday lives of the medieval monks. View some of them in detail here.

  • An extract from the Battle Abbey carol

    ‘Be Mery All’: The Battle Abbey Carol

    One of the pieces of music visitors to the abbey will hear is a late medieval carol. Find out the story behind it and its new musical setting.

The Battle of Hastings

  • The Bayeux Tapestry scene showing William, Duke of Normandy, raising his helmet during the Battle of Hastings, to reveal to his troops that he is still alive

    What Happened at the Battle of Hastings?

    At dawn on Saturday 14 October 1066, two great armies prepared to fight for the throne of England. Read what happened at the most famous battle in English history.

  • The death of King Harold of England, depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry

    Where did the Battle of Hastings happen?

    Was Battle Abbey built ‘on the very spot’ where King Harold fell, or was the Battle of Hastings actually fought elsewhere? Discover the latest thinking about the battlefield’s location.

  • Battle of Hastings by Wilkins

    Atoning for the Bloodshed

    Battle Abbey was a memorial to William’s great victory – but it was also an act of penance. Find out how this great abbey owes its origins to the Battle of Hastings.

  • Reenactment of the Battle of Hastings

    1066 and the Norman Conquest

    Find out much more about the Battle of Hastings and the events of 1066, and discover where to find some of the most spectacular castles and abbeys the Normans built across England.

Explore the abbey and battlefield

  • One of the remarkable vaulted ground-floor rooms below the dormitory in the east range at Battle Abbey

    Description of Battle Abbey

    Read a description of the battlefield and the well-preserved remains of the medieval monastery, including the great gatehouse.

  • Phased plan of Battle Abbey

    Download a plan of Battle Abbey

    Download this detailed PDF plan of Battle Abbey to discover how its buildings have developed from the 11th century onwards.

  • Battle Abbey guidebook cover

    Buy the guidebook

    Read a full history and detailed tour of Battle Abbey and the Battle of Hastings battlefield in this beautifully illustrated guidebook.

More resources

  • The high south end of the east range of the buildings at Battle Abbey

    Why Battle Abbey Matters

    The well-preserved battlefield and the remains of William I’s great memorial abbey are vivid reminders of the events of 1066.

  • Students at Battle Abbey

    Teaching resources

    What better place to learn about the Battle of Hastings than the battlefield itself? Find out what Battle has to offer and download teaching resources.

  • Archaeologists excavating the monastic latrine at Battle Abbey in 1979

    Research on Battle Abbey and Battlefield

    Find out how archaeology and documentary research have enriched our understanding of the abbey and battlefield.

  • Engraving of Battle Abbey by Samuel and Nathaniel Buck in 1737

    Sources for Battle Abbey and Battlefield

    Use this list of visual and written sources, published and unpublished, to learn more about Battle Abbey and the Battle of Hastings.

Also of interest

  • re-enactors dressed as Saxon warriors

    The Other Battle of 1066

    Would William have won the Battle of Hastings if Harold hadn’t fought another battle less than three weeks earlier, many miles away? Find out more about the importance of the Battle of Stamford Bridge.

  • Find Norman places to visit with our interactive map

    Explore Norman castles and abbeys

    Use our interactive map to find our where to see some of the best-preserved Norman architecture in the country at English Heritage castles, abbeys and other important sites.

  • 1066 Year of the Normans graphic image of army

    1066 podcasts

    Listen to our experts discuss the impact of the Norman Conquest on England, as well as events before, during and after the Battle of Hastings, in this three-part podcast.

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