Oc­to­ber 14 will be the 950th an­niver­sary of the most cel­e­brated bat­tle in English history. looks at the build­ing that di­rectly con­nects us with this seis­mic event

John Goodall

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Bat­tle Abbey, Kent A prop­erty of English Her­itage

TO strengthen the hearts and hands of you who are about to fight for me, I make a vow that on this very bat­tle­field I shall found a monastery for the sal­va­tion of all, and es­pe­cially for those who fall here… a fit­ting monastery with a wor­thy lib­erty. Let it be an atone­ment.’ So, ac­cord­ing to the Chron­i­cle of Bat­tle Abbey, did Wil­liam the Con­queror ad­dress his men as they pre­pared for bat­tle at Hast­ings on Oc­to­ber 14, 1066. This text, writ­ten by an anony­mous Bene­dic­tine monk about a cen­tury later, can­not be read un­crit­i­cally, but it of­fers a com­pelling ac­count of how this monastery came into be­ing.

One of those who heard the Duke speak, the Chron­i­cle ex­plains, was a monk from Mar­moutier, one Wil­liam, nick­named ‘the Smith’. After the bat­tle, Wil­liam pressed the vic­to­ri­ous

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