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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • ‘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.

  • Gwen Lally and the Battle Abbey Pageant

    Pageant master extraordinaire Gwen Lally directed a cast of thousands at the Battle Abbey historical pageant in 1932. Find out more about the pageant and the life of a 1930s pioneer. 

The Battle of Hastings

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

Lady Elizabeth Webster, née Vassal (1770–1845)
Lady Elizabeth Webster, née Vassal (1770–1845)

The Webster Family Portraits

A group of portraits that hangs at Battle Abbey charts the many generations of the Webster family from the 17th century onwards.

This is a lesser known but fascinating chapter of the abbey’s history – a time that saw warring factions not out on the battlefield, but within one family. 

Read more on Google Arts & Culture

Explore the Abbey and Battlefield

  • Description of Battle Abbey

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

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Research on Battle Abbey and Battlefield

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

  • 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

  • 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.

  • Things you didn't know about 1066

    Was William’s victory at the Battle of Hastings a foregone conclusion? Was King Harold really killed by an arrow in his eye? Find quick answers to these and other questions about 1066.

  • 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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