Battle Review of the Year - July to December 2016

Hastings Week: 1066 march down Battle High Street. Photo by Frank Copper. SUS-161015-061859001
Hastings Week: 1066 march down Battle High Street. Photo by Frank Copper. SUS-161015-061859001

In the second half of a two-part feature, the Battle Observer looks at what made the headlines in the last six months of 2016.

JULY

Dedication of War Memorial Statue and Armistice Day 11/11/2016, Battle.

Sculptor, Guy Portelli. SUS-161111-130234001

Dedication of War Memorial Statue and Armistice Day 11/11/2016, Battle. Sculptor, Guy Portelli. SUS-161111-130234001

• The head of Sedlescombe Primary School, the much-loved Marian Ham, bowed out of school life after 25 years.

• Visitors to Battle Abbey could enjoy the 1066 tale from a new perspective following a £1.8m revamp, which included opening up parts of the site to the public for the very first time. The changes included moving a stone memorial marking the spot where – according to tradition – King Harold fell at the battle.

• An army of straw-stuffed soldiers came to town for Battle’s annual Scarecrow Festival, which this year had the theme ‘1066 And All That’.

• Nobles, one of Battle’s most successful restaurants, closed after nine years of tickling the tastes of diners. It wasn’t all bad news as the people behind the Michelin-accredited eatery, Paul and Debbie Noble, launched their new venture, the Cut & Grill steakhouse, less than a fortnight later.

Catsfield Boat Race. Photo copyright of Alan Roberts. SUS-160919-154341001

Catsfield Boat Race. Photo copyright of Alan Roberts. SUS-160919-154341001

AUGUST

• There were jubilant scenes as Battle shooter Steve Scott bagged a bronze medal in the Olympic Games in Rio, helping Team GB towards a record medal haul.

• There was shock in Etchingham after a soldier died in a freak accident. Emma Beeney, 40, was walking along the High Street when she was struck by a generator which fell off the back of a truck.

• The Bayeux Tapestry Mural at Battle Railway Station was shortlisted for a top national award. The Tapestry Mural, which was officially unveiled in April, commemorates the 950th Anniversary of the Battle of Hastings and was shortlisted for the Community Art Scheme category of the ACORP Community Rail Awards.

Steve Scott is all smiles after winning Olympic bronze in Rio.

Steve Scott is all smiles after winning Olympic bronze in Rio.

• A ceremony was held to mark the official opening of the greenways running alongside the Bexhill to Hastings Link Road. The greenways, which extend around 2.5 miles from the outskirts of Bexhill to the edge of Hastings via Crowhurst, offers easy access to the countryside for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders.

SEPTEMBER

• After months of hard work the latest addition to Battle Abbey School, Martlet House, was officially opened by the High Sheriff of East Sussex, Michael Foster. The school had bought up the former Yesterday’s World site and transformed it into a new extension for the school, featuring dedicated areas for textiles, photography and IT, along with a sixth form area, study rooms, a cafeteria, computer rooms and fitness suite.

• A popular art gallery, which stood in the heart of Battle for 17 years, closed. The Saffron Gallery had been a part of Battle since 1999, and was taken over by Liz and Simon Honey in 2006. Saffron has since taken up new premises in East Grinstead.

Generator fall, Etchingham

Generator fall, Etchingham

• A group of intrepid re-enactors set off from York on an epic journey, inspired by the one King Harold took exactly 950 years before, marking the Battle of Hastings anniversary. Organised by English Heritage, re-enactors on foot and horseback travelled south over three weeks, arriving at the battlefield site on October 14, the date in 1066 when the battle took place.

• A former Battle Scout leader, who was facing sentencing for a string of online child sexual offences, died suddenly. Matthew J Lock, 39, died in hospital where he was having surgery.

A police spokesperson said at the time that there were ‘no suspicious circumstances’ surrounding his death.

• Seventeen shipshape creations took their place on the starting line for the inaugural Catsfield Boat Race.

Organised by the Catsfield Triangle Association, the event raised funds for the Catsfield School Traffic Calming Project and St Michael’s Hospice.

OCTOBER

Marian Ham pictured with pupils at Sedlescombe Church of England Primary School. SUS-160630-135847001

Marian Ham pictured with pupils at Sedlescombe Church of England Primary School. SUS-160630-135847001

• The eyes of the world were on Battle as the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings finally arrived.

Concorde 1066 organised a wide programme of events, including a performance from a military band, a special service at St Mary’s and a procession for children from schools across 1066 Country marching through the High Street, carrying boldly painted shields.

Meanwhile English Heritage’s two-day battle re-enactment was a sell out and a different group of re-enactors, led by Peter Wheeler, completed their epic journey, retracing King Harold’s journey from Stamford Bridge to Caldbec Hill in Battle.

The 1066 Way race saw 1,066 run in the footsteps of William the Conqueror between Pevensey Castle and Battle Abbey and Battle Ramblers were joined by friends from Caen in Normandy to walk nine miles from Bodiam Castle to Battle Abbey to commemorate this special anniversary.

Meanwhile Tine Greene’s community tapestry project continued apace.

And one local artist chose to mark this milestone in her own unique way by creating a giant balloon castle - featuring a balloon King Harold with an arrow through his eye - which was later featured on news quiz Have I Got News For You.

• Claremont Senior School in Bodiam was granted planning permission to build a two-storey extension and Multi-Use Games Area.

• Brave labourer Tom Jones from Cripps Corner, pulled a man from a burning car before forming a human chain to pour water on the flames to protect the trapped driver until firefighters arrived. The drama unfolded after a car crashed into a ditch in Harrier Lane, Battle.

NOVEMBER

• After months of fundraising, Battle’s ‘monument of the people’ was finally unveiled.

The crowdfunded war memorial statue, depicting an opening scene from the Battle of Hastings featuring a Saxon solider and a Norman on horseback, was officially unveiled at the town’s annual Armistice Day ceremony.

Town mayor David Furness spearheaded the project, which was delivered by Tonbridge-based sculptor Guy Portelli.

• A Victorian church in Sedlescombe was severely damaged by Storm Angus. The roof of Chapel Hill United Reformed Church was struck by a fallen ash tree following high winds and torrential rain. The interior had only been redecorated the previous week.

• Jo Stewart, property manager at Battle Abbey, revealed she was leaving English Heritage to become CEO of Hastings Pier.

• Friends and family paid tribute to ‘funny and amazing’ Battle teen Ed Addie, who was found dead at the Abbey Hotel. Police say there were no suspicious circumstances around the 18-year-old’s death.

DECEMBER

• Illegal parking is causing ‘anarchy on the streets’ and hitting traders in the pocket, a heated Battle Town Council meeting heard. Representatives from Battle Abbey School, the Chamber of Commerce and traders give their views about the parking situation to Rother District Council’s Martin Kenward.

• Callous thieves broke in to the Robertsbridge Garden Machine Centre and stole a bike which was intended as a Christmas gift for a five-year-old boy with a rare heart condition. The intruders also stole cash and valuable tools, chainsaws and strimmers worth around £20,000 in the raid.

• A pile of builder’s waste was flytipped on the new Link Road greenway in Crowhurst.

The tree fell onto the church roof SUS-161121-123637001

The tree fell onto the church roof SUS-161121-123637001

Hastings Week: 1066 Way to Battle race. Photo by Alan Roberts. SUS-161016-174704002

Hastings Week: 1066 Way to Battle race. Photo by Alan Roberts. SUS-161016-174704002

Martlet House opening.

Martlet House opening.

Battle of Hastings walk from York. Picture: Anthony Chappel-Ross for English Heritage SUS-160929-143838001

Battle of Hastings walk from York. Picture: Anthony Chappel-Ross for English Heritage SUS-160929-143838001