Battle prepares for 1066 conquest this weekend

THE Battle of Hastings re-enactment may have been called off this year, but the events leading up to the bloody clash will be brought vividly to life at Battle Abbey this weekend.

On October 12 and 13, a unique new event is being held at 1066 Battle of Hastings Abbey and Battlefield.

‘Prepare for Conquest’ will, for the first time, take families behind the lines into the camp of William, Duke of Normandy, as he and his troops prepare to face King Harold.

Over the two days, visitors will experience life in the build up to one of the most defining battles in England’s history.

A new play, ‘We Three Kings’ written exclusively for English Heritage by Simon Kirk and performed by Time Will Tell theatre will form the centre-piece of the programme.

There will be a chance to meet the main protagonists and be drawn into their lives, joining in their dilemmas and decisions in a light-hearted dramatisation of the events that lead William to embark on the most dangerous gamble of his life.

With the Abbey grounds transformed into a tented encampment, there will be a whole host of activities for adults and children.

Visitors will be able to meet the noble war horses and hear how they were transported across the channel and prepared for their crucial role in the Norman attack.

Children can have a go at raising the sail on a Norman Longship and learn how William navigated the channel.

Throughout the day there will be opportunities to get involved with all aspects of the preparations, from cooking to archery, kids drills, preparing weapons and kids crafts.

Jo Stewart, property manager at Battle Abbey said: “At Prepare for Conquest, we will be shedding light on a different side of the Battle of Hastings.

“It’s as if our visitors will be embedded with the troops; experiencing how it felt to be leaving home and facing an uncertain future, of course with no foresight to show which side of history they’d be on in the end.”

And there will be plenty to do beyond the Abbey walls this weekend too with the town’s Chamber of Commerce promoting a series of activities which will take place throughout the town.

The Lunch Bar in Old Ladies Court will invite people in to meet ‘William the Conqueror’ (actor John Kocel), on Saturday Nobles Restaurant will offer a special lunch or dinner for £10.66 and Mrs Burton’s Tea Rooms and The Bull Inn will offer special medieval menus.

Children can enjoy a ‘Spot the Soldier’ competition, hidden in shop windows around the town, or have their faces painted at Aurelie and Rose jewellers on the Abbey Green.

On Sunday conker matches between Normans and Saxons will decide the outcome of the 2013 Battle of Hastings.

For further details about the events taking place next week at Battle, visit www.visit1066country.com