A stranger to Battle, arriving here after dark, could be forgiven for thinking the town is a centre for violent behaviour. The fact of the matter is that until recently the streets of Battle were awash with heavily armed ne’r-do-wells skulking in dark alleys and open spaces. The Green in particular attracted large numbers of these miscreants.
Fortunately the streets have now been cleared of 1066 scarecrows and we can go about our law abiding business once again. I had the good fortune to encounter these men of war during daylight hours, inspecting their fearsome weapons and burnished armour at close quarters, as I considered who to vote for.
I started off my tour of the gathered armies at The Market Place, where I quickly despatched a soldier dressed in Saxon-looking attire. Somehow he had acquired a helmet from the Knights Templar a century or so later. Next I admired King Harold himself outside the Battle Museum. Despite his convincing Saxon moustache I had to penalise him for trying to pass off Edith Swan-Neck as his wife. His ‘official’ wife was Edith of Mercia, so I had to disqualify him on a technicality.
Making my way down the high street as I ticked them off one by one. I was particularly attracted to one character in a long coat outside Shire Country Clothing. Alas he was not a scarecrow, but a tailors dummy. Nice coat though.
At the Market Place I encountered a range of zombie clergy and nuns, and a Norman archer with a solar panel in his heel (whilst the Norman’s were chucking arrows, are we really to believe that the Saxons were lobbing bits of 21st Century electrical goods in the other direction?). There was William The Bastard riding a flowerpot horse and at Barrocloughs Opticians there was even Harold Godwinson on horseback, observing Halley’s Comet through industrial spectacles.
Battle Books had made a token effort. Oops - pardon the pun! But history does not record Harry Potter being present at the Battle of Hastings. Sorry, wrong Harold! I also had to disqualify Alan Hunting Associates, because at the time of my visit there was a very large corvid in front of it. So technically it was a failed scarecrow.
At the time of writing I am blissfully unaware of the outcome of the competition but to my mind there could only be one winner - Battle Floral and Horticultural Society. This scarecrow was neither a Saxon nor a Norman, but the husband of Betty of Battle. This modern-day character had a Saxon eyeball complete with arrow, on the end of his garden fork. It reprised the story of Richard III being discovered under a car park in Leicester and raised the very topical question as to where exactly did England’s most famous battle actually take place?