On 14 October 1066, William, Duke of Normandy defeated King Harold of England at the battle of Hastings. This was the last time the British Isles were successfully invaded.
England's most famous battle, arguably the best known date in English history, was decisive. William's triumph, and his subsequent coronation as King William I (1066-87), marked the end of Anglo-Saxon England, the creation of new ties with Western Europe, and the imposition of a new and more cohesive ruling class.
Horrified by the scale of the bloodshed, the Pope ordered the victorious Frenchmen to respect the lives they had taken through some form of public penance. William decided to construct an abbey on the battle site and legend has it that the high altar marks the spot where King Harold was slain by an arrow.
In spite of the death and violence of 1066, no visible trace is apperent in the landscape, nor have any battle relics ever been found. Nevertheless, this 100 acre site has remained remarkably intact and by following the paths it can easily be explored on foot.
On site a fascinating exhibition featuring CGI film and interactive displays tells the story of the great battle and paints a picture of England at the time of the conquest. The audio tour of the battlefield itself brings the momentous day to life. Explore the atmospheric abbey ruins and stand on the very spot where King Harold is said to have died.
Battle Abbey visitor centre includes a children's discovery room and a café, and there is an outdoor themed playground. Special events run throughout the year. They range from recreating aspects of Norman life to the annual Battle of Hastings reconstruction in October where events are vidily brought to life.