Plans for 1066 march included in Culture bid

Battle Abbey 1066 Re-enactment/camp.'13.10.12.'Pictures by: TONY COOMBES PHOTOGRAPHY
Battle Abbey 1066 Re-enactment/camp.'13.10.12.'Pictures by: TONY COOMBES PHOTOGRAPHY

A 300 MILE showcase tour of the length of England has been unveiled as the icing on the cake in the bid to bring City of Culture title to Hastings & 1066 Country.

The ambitious project to take the 1066 theme on the road has been revealed this week after the details of the bid were released.

The leader of Hastings Borough Council, councillor Jeremy Birch has revealed how the theme will be taken up to York and then back down to Battle, following the route of King Harold.

The march will finish on the historic 1066 battlefield.

Cllr Birch said: “It really could be the X-factor for us.

“The panel in London was very interested in the idea and we’re really excited about it.”

The bid features a bold plan to take a cavalcade-style convoy from York through Lincolnshire and the East Midlands into Essex past London and down to Battle.

The trip will last around three weeks and take the 1066 theme to towns and villages along the way.

Such is the enthusiasm for the idea, all the local authorities on the route have already been contacted and are prepared to get involved.

Billed as a cultural extravaganza, this could be take the form of arts and history.

There will also be a link up with towns in Normandy to take the theme to the French as well. There could be a recreation of the journey William the Conqueror took along the French coast before he set sail across the English Channel with his army.

The team is confident of securing £15m in investment through local, regional and national sponsorship. The bid states: “The regeneration of our region that has already begun will get the boost it need to push it past a critical point.

“Where depressed local communities and businesses will flourish with investment attracted to the spotlight of cultural innovation.”

The countdown to the shortlist decision is underway with judges expected to name up to five towns during the week of June 17.

Chester remains the favourite out of the 11 bidders to take the title for 2017.

But Hastings is no longer the rank outsider after its 25-1 odds were halved last month.

Cllr Birch said: “We are very excited about this idea.

“We’re not sure if any of the other bidders have anything like this but the judges were very keen to know more about it.

“We wanted to take the whole theme of 1066 out to the rest of the country.”

A spokesperson for Rother District Council said: “It’s a fantastic idea that we are happy to be a part of.

“Rother is famous for its 1066 connections and this will give one of the great stories of the Battle of Hastings a contemporary twist and could show our culture to the UK and wider world.

“It is quite clear that Battle, Rye, Bexhill and the rest of rural Rother form a key part of this bid, along with all that Hastings has to offer.”