Get Hands on With History at Battle AbbeySat 15 - Sun 23 Feb 2020
14 October 1066Battle of Hastings
After a bloody battle lasting over nine hours from dawn until dusk, William of Normandy defeats King Harold of England on a battlefield 8 miles from Hastings.
Find out more about the Battle of Hastings
25 December 1066A New King
William is crowned King of England at Westminster.
1071Building the Benedictine Abbey
William builds the abbey on the northern ridge of the battlefield to atone for the bloodshed of battle. The high altar marks the spot where Harold was killed.
Find out more about the foundation of Battle Abbey
On 11 February the finished church is dedicated in the presence of King William Rufus, the Archbishop of Canterbury, seven bishops and a huge crowd of nobles and courtiers.
13th CenturyDrastic Renovations
The first monastic buildings are almost entirely replaced with the ones that remain standing today.
Read a description of Battle Abbey
1348The Black Death
The Black Death reduces the abbey's population from 52 to 34.
Henry VIII suppresses the monasteries and gives the abbey to his friend Sir Anthony Browne. Browne demolishes much of the monastery to build a guest wing for his country house.
1721Battle and the Websters
Rich merchant and history buff Sir Thomas Webster buys Battle. It remains with his descendants for most of the next 250 years.
1780-1800Rake and the Gambler
The 4th baronet, Sir Godfrey Webster, a notorious rake and gambler, runs up huge debts and eventually shoots himself in London.
The 5th baronet, another gambler, throws himself into renovating the property. He too accumulates massive debts and is forced to flee his creditors. The estate is rented out.
Lord Harry Vane and his wife, the future Duke and Duchess of Cleveland, buy the estate. They spend vast amounts and receive many famous visitors.
1901-22A Webster Return
On the death of the duchess, Sir Augustus Webster buys the estate back, with help from his wife, Mabel, a rich carpet heiress.
1922-3Battle Abbey School
The abbey is leased to a school, which still occupies the buildings.
Fire sweeps through the abbey causing serious damage. This is later repaired by restoration architect Sir Harold Brakespear, who also excavates part of the cloister.
History comes full circle when many men stationed at Battle during the Second World War take part in the invasion of Normandy.
English Heritage completes the visitor centre, which explores the background and events of the Battle of Hastings.
Learn more about the Battle of Hastings and Battle Abbey