Embattled church’s tribute to Harold

It was pleasing to see the letter in last week’s Observer calling for a fitting tribute to Harold, the last Anglo-Saxon king of England. I agree that other fine examples of statues, such as Alfred the Great and Churchill, should be followed and that its location would rightly be in front of Battle Abbey.

Notwithstanding that the Battle of Hastings was a crushing defeat for the English, the spirit of 1066 lived on, the spirit that had seen them fight three major battles in a year.

Following the Norman conquest, the Anglo-Saxons continued to cherish their liberty, steadfastly refusing to give up their language, culture and institutions.

This fighting spirit endured through centuries of struggle to ultimately give us the democratic freedom we all enjoy today ...and when next England was threatened by invasion from the evil forces of fascism, the nation and its allies in the free world were ready for the fight and the Nazi Third Reich was defeated – that is Harold’s legacy!

Keen historians will know that on the eve of the Battle of Hastings, Harold heard a Christian mass in a chapel reputed to be on the site of the current church in Whatlington.

It is therefore fitting that a “Harold Service”, to commemorate his life and legacy, will be held at Whatlington church on the morning of Saturday 12th October.

Whatlington church itself has shown the battling spirit of 1066 having suffered a devastating fire in 2010.

The faithful congregation have now overseen the complete restoration of the church, which is due to open very soon.

It is worth noting that the replacement decor includes a seat cushion bearing the original emblem of England (the white dragon) and the inscription “Harold Rex Anglorum - Whatlington 1066”.

More details of the Harold Service will follow and I hope as many people as possible will attend, to both commemorate Harold’s battling spirit of 1066 and celebrate the reopening of Whatlington church.

Clive Bishop

Asten Fields, Battle