Battle and District
                 Historical Society

 Newsletters and News 

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As a charity the Society must publish an annual report. That for 2017-18 is attached here TAR2017-18

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BDHS Update mid- September 2019


You can buy this new book by BDHS Vice Chairman Keith Foord, from Rother Books for £15 or get a £3 discount if you are a 2019-20 member of the Society, by buying at at one of the BDHS talks.

Keith examines the history of East Sussex in a way arguably never attempted before. In 240 pages with colour illustrations, Keith answers the question: how did William and his successors and subsequent dynasties change the towns of East Sussex: Battle, Bexhill, Hastings, Pevensey, Robertsbridge, Rye and Winchelsea? How did society survive the fourteenth century burdens of plagues, taxes and defending the shore? Towards the end of the period, we also see the development of the Parliamentary system; the book looks at how the first local MP’s were chosen, with mini-biographies of a few, to give a taste of the sort of people they were! Combining scholarship and entertainment, Keith adopts a fresh approach to tease out the answers to all these questions, from ancient documents, abbeys, castles, religious institutions and from the landscape itself.
Aided by a useful timeline, the chapters also introduce us to a varied cast: the controversial Rolls of Battle Abbey, the “Great and Terrible” King Edward I, warrior Abbots, and the families whose coats of arms are on the cover of the book. The book is a sequel to the successful BDHS book published in 2015, 1066 and the Battle of Hastings: Preludes, Events and Postscripts.


On Thursday 12 September Tessa Boase talked about Mrs Pankhurst’s Purple Feather. Mrs Pankhurst sported a purple feather in her hat; opposed to this practice, and to Mrs Pankhurst’s beliefs, were Etta Lemon and her movement which later was to become the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. The film about the Battle of Hastings starring BDHS’s Alan Judd, was shown at the end of the meeting.


Don't forget to renew your membership. You’ll get a nice new yellow BDHS membership card (could be useful after Brexit) and the new 2019 Journal.


The exhibition of local Second World War photographs (put on by Battle Museum and the Battle Photographic Society), continues in Battle Library until 27 September. The public response has provided us with a photo of Battle heroine Violet Akehurst, and a significant set of Battle Home Guard photos with names for almost all who served. You may have similarly useful material. We thank the Rotary Club of Battle for making all this possible. The Library’s opening hours are: Tuesday 10-4; Wednesday 10-1; Thursday 11-6; Friday/Saturday 10-5.


On Saturday 12 October at 7pm in the Emmanuel Centre, Kenneth Roberts will talk and play his way through Opera South East’s exploration of the history of dance: “Invitation to the Dance”, including
the piano music of composers such as Mozart, Grieg, Debussy, Scott Joplin and others. Tickets £12 on the door, £10 in advance from Cook or Spoilt Rotten.

Adrian and Sarah Hall
9 September 2019

Click on this icon for Adrian and Sarah's book review of 'Conquest to Dissolution' and about how to get the book!


Video: The Battle of Hastings. No - the Battle of Battle!!

BDHS Members Michael Hodge, Alan Judd and Peter Greene, working in close cooperation with Natasha Williams of English Heritage, have produced a video explaining where the Battle of Hastings actually took place and why we have a town called Battle. The video has been released by Mirador Television and can be found via Youtube link:

New Exhibition of local second World War Photographs in Battle Library

An exhibition of local Second World War photographs, never seen before, is being put on by Battle Museum of Local History and the Battle Photographic Society. The exhibition will begin on 1 August in Battle Library and last until 27 September. The photographs are the ones for which there was no room to include in the best-selling book, Battle at War by BDHS members Sarah and Adrian Hall, which is available from Rother Books in the High Street. Visitors will be able to leave messages and information, which the Museum will follow up. The exhibition opening hours are: Tuesday 10-4; Wednesday 10-1; Thursday 11-6; Friday/Saturday 10-5.


An EGM was held immediately before the talk on 18 July when Professor David Bates was elected unanimously as the new President of the Society, and Christopher Whittick was also unanimously elected as a Vice-President.

Archive update

Led by our Archivist Georgina Doherty a small group of members, assisted by James Clephane-Cameron,  is now creating a new searchable digital archive of items in the BDHS Archives. Archived items can be accessed via and by following the link on the banner to the left.

Gina has uploaded all the Society's oral histories and all of the Collectanea papers to date have also been uploaded. Work is now in progress to upload digital copies of all the Society's journals published since 1951.

Volunteers from the membership to assist with copying records selected to be digitized would be very welcome. No computing knowledge is required. Please contact Georgina to discuss this valuable work either at Society meetings or via the Contacts page.

New papers in Collectanea

There are three new papers of interest in our on line collection of papers about Battle and District's history. Chairman George Kiloh has supplied two, a fascinating update on the 'Gunpowder industry in Battle, Crowhurst, Brede and Sedlescombe' plus a paper about the Victorian housing delelopments on former glebe land at 'St Marys Croft' (the area just opposite the Tesco garage on Battle Hill). Not to be outdone our Archivist, Gina Doherty has been delving  and the result is a most interesting paper on 'Battle's Clock and Watchmakers'

Richard Moore

Richard Moore, who died on 15 May, was a remarkable son of a remarkable local family whose early story is told by his daughter Charlotte in Hancox, named after the house at Whatlington in which the family lived. His father had been a most effective Medical Officer of Health in Battle, inspecting the then poor housing and proposing remedies. His uncle Gillachrist had been killed on the Western Front in 1914. Their father had risen from humbled beginnings to be President of the Royal College of Physicians and a baronet.

Richard’s life was devoted not only to his family but to his particular politics. A strong Liberal and then Liberal Democrat, he worked for the then party leader for several years and later devoted himself to what is now the European Union. He stood for Parliament on various occasions, not only for the Rye constituency but once against Ian Paisley in North Antrim. He was a true democrat who had seen too much of the aftermath of 1939-45 to want Europe to fall once again into warring tribes, and who strongly opposed the regimes imposed on eastern and central Europe by the USSR. Last December he remarked that 2018 was the first year in a very long time that he had not been out of the country.

Richard was a long-time member of BDHS, chairman for some years and still a member of the Committee when he died. He had an excellent and inventive mind, and the Society will miss him deeply.

George Kiloh

For more about Richard's political life see -

Relaunch of Battle Heritage Trails

The Per Bellum Patria orb in the Almonry gardens

Heritage trails around Battle have been given a new boost by the inauguration of a Sculpture trail on 12th May 2019 and a Children's trail and booklet. The Town trail has also been given a facelift. To these add the Keene Trail, the GeoTourist History Trail and the Malfosse Walk and the visitor to Battle has many guides to choose from. Members of BDHS have contributed in many ways to ensure that the history is as correct as possible!

The Sculpture trail was launched by an unveiling of an orb in the Almonry gardens. Hand carved by Elliot Brotherton this depicts local flora and fauna, and around its equator bears the motto PER BELLVM PATRIA, the motto of the Historical Society which has been adopted as the town motto. Other sculptures on the trail are at Cherry Gardens, Park Lane, Lake Field and Marley Gardens.

Information about all the trails can be obtained from the Almonry, Battle Museum of Local History and other local outlets and from

The GeoTourist Apps can be downloaded to your smart phones.

Top TV Historian at Battle Memorial Hall

Our picture shows (centre) Dr Tracy Borman, top TV historian, who visited Battle on 18 October  as our guest. She was welcomed by the Mayor Cllr David Furness (right) and Mr George Kiloh, Chairman of the Society (left). She spoke about “The Private Lives of the Tudors” to a packed audience. The Society has a talk from a leading historian each month on the third Thursday at 7.30 pm in the Memorial Hall, open to the public (£4 a head) as well as members. Details of the programme and how to join the Society are on tabs to the left.

Photo Peter Greene

Battle of Hastings Re-enactment 2018 : 13th-14th October

On both days we had a tremendous foot fall to our stand in our new location in the Lower Dorter of the Abbey right up to 5pm and beyond!! There were also large attendances at Neil Clephane-Cameron's and and Keith Foord’s presentations in the Abbey Library, probably over 60 per session, and they sold and signed books in the Abbot's Hall. Keith also took part each day in a short workshop led by author Joanna Courtney on 'Women in History' ...see the Facebook video.... Hugh Willing did a sterling job on the BDHS stand on Saturday as did George Kiloh on Sunday and Tina Greene had a really large interest in the Battle Tapestry. We were on our feet all day - both days!  Peter Greene zipped around with his camera and his photos are below. Many thanks to all who represented BDHS so well.

New Printing of '1066 and the Battle of Hastings - Preludes, Events and Postscripts'

This BDHS book by Keith Foord and Neil Clephane-Cameron has been selling so well that we have had to arrange a third printing. The authors have taken the opportunity to make some changes to the first part of Chapter 16 which covers the Battlefield and Battle Abbey. More information and references have been added for this chapter, including to our own Hugh Willing's thoughtful lecture on the eve of the 950th Anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, Tina Greene's 'Battle Tapestry' and other data that has come to the fore since the book was first written in 2015. This has lengthened the text by only two pages and otherwise the book is unchanged from the second printing. 

The price is unchanged at £14 but BDHS members can obtain copies at meetings at the discounted rate of £12.50. Use the tab to the left to get more details of all BDHS books and how to buy them.

Amazing find by BDHS

In the process of changing over BDHS archivists Gina Doherty and David Sawyer unexpectedly turned up an old small parchment that appeared to originate from Abbot Richard Tovey of Battle Abbey in 1493. The Research group contacted 'The Keep' about the document and Christopher Whittick of ESRO confirmed its authenticity This is a 'pass' entitling the carrier to travel freely in England and quoting the old charter rights of the abbey. Gina has produced an excellent summary of this find which can be accessed in Section A3.4 of Collectanea.  BDHS has also given a facsimile copy to Battle Abbey for future display.


L-R: Neil Clephane-Cameron, Keith Foord, George Kiloh, Gina Doherty, Natasha Williams (English Heritage) handing the parchment to Christopher Whittick (ESRO). Picture Peter Greene

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