Or to the other side of the village.
May 2007 – After having spent the afternoon touring the Battle Abbey ruins and fields, we headed back to the train station. There wouldn't be any trains because of weekend rail works, but there was a bus to take us back up to Wadhurst where we would get on a train back to London.
Across and a few yards down the road there was a gate that we stopped at for a few minutes. It was the kind of view that you could stand and gaze at for a long time. So many shades of green! And that path! It wold be tempting, and apparently allowable, to stride down the trail to see what's at the other end. But we had to get back to the station.
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Beneath the abbey.
I love old stuff. Castles, cathedrals, historical sites of every kind. Sometimes, though, it is easy to miss a feature because we naturally look around. We may even obey the photographer's rule of looking behind us when facing some outstanding feature. But it is easy to forget to look up.
In the Battle Abbey ruins there are places that once served as storage, or as dormitory, or . . . I read all of the plaques and markers, but I didn't take notes. In this case, the vaulted ceiling of a basement or cellar area revealed some interesting designs.
I don't often attempt this kind of shot since, as a tourist, I don't work on a tripod for stability. This time, however, it was dark and it seemed like I might get a decently stable shot by using the on-camera flash. And it worked! Because I got my positioning right, the shadowing from the flash was also minimized. I do get lucky sometimes.
Photo taken 6 May 2007
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Beneath the ruins.
I don't remember exactly what part of the ruins we were exploring. It may have been the high altar area, or perhaps the dormitory. In any case, there are remains of what must have been some spectacular Norman construction, and occasional views out through windows that could take one back in time to the 1100s.
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Battle Abbey Ruins – Battle, UK
In 1066 A.D., William of Orange, the Duke of Normandy fought the Battle of Hastings against the English army at this location. During the fight, King Harold took an arrow directly to one of his eyes and died, and William took the throne. The "modern" history of England pretty much starts with that event.
As penance for the death of Harold, William built an abbey at the battlefield site, and the settlement became the town of Battle. The abbey was destroyed by Henry VIII when he separated the Church of England from Roman Catholic rule.
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This is when things get interesting around the abbey!
Well, we did get rained on a little while we visited Battle and the abbey ruins, but the drops fell out of a featureless grey sky on that early May 2007 day.
The clouds I added to this photo are from a year and a month earlier, and from somewhere between Stratford-on-Avon and Oxford. I felt that the imposing ruins of the abbey deserved a bit more drama than was originally present so I borrowed some from the past.
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An arrow to the eye, and England had a new king.
The Battle of Hastings took place several miles inland from the town of Hastings itself. The armies of William of Normandy fought the forces of King Harold Godwinson in this field in October of 1066. Poor Harold did not survive. Later, though he did not repent enough to go back to Normandy, William did penance by building an abbey on the hill where Harold died. The abbey was called, appropriately, Battle Abbey, and the town that grew up around it is simply, Battle.
For centuries the field was plowed under and farmed over. No need to let a battle and change of royal lineage ruin perfectly good farmland. Besides, there was no explosive ordinance left behind as there was durning WW2. Every now and again an unexploded bomb will be found somewhere in England!
The abbey was abolished in the reign of Henry VIII and the buildings were ravaged by locals seeking good building materials. But the ruins remain and they, and the battlefield, are in the loving care of English Heritage. No more fighting, no more farming- just tourism and history lessons. It is well worth the train ride to get there and the better part of a day to explore the museum, abbey ruins and battlefield.
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