Further action over ‘offensive’ Abbey slogan?

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THERE are fears Battle Abbey could be the target of further vandalism over an ‘offensive’ slogan in the attraction’s cafe.

The Observer has learnt that some people have taken offence to a slogan on the wall of the Battle Abbey cafe which states ‘The Norman Conquest Was A Good Thing’.

The quote from Sellar and Yeatman is from a hugely successful parody of school history text books called 1066 And All That, first published in Punch magazine and then as a book in 1930.

Billed as ‘the history book to end all history books’ this is a light-hearted satire upon textbook history spanning 55 BC to the Great War.

English Heritage says the display of the quote is designed to show how the Battle of Hastings has been absorbed into popular culture, as well as being one of the few historical dates that virtually everyone remembers.

But last week two men who objected to the phrase spray painted the words ‘Holocaust which still affects the English today’ over the slogan.

One of the men, who hails from Poole in Dorset, was given a police caution.

The other man is still outstanding.

Now one English Heritage member has warned that further action could follow if English Heritage does not alter or remove the slogan.

In a letter to Dawn Champion, English Heritage area manager for the South East, Tim Hawke said: “Unless you take steps to correct your errors I do know that the kind of behaviour that took place on Monday October 14 will continue and sadly escalate to alarming levels.

“You have a large number of venerable structures throughout the nation which logically could be vandalised in protest of your actions at Battle.

“Windmills such as Saxtead Green Post Mill or Berney Arms Windmill could be totally destroyed through simple acts of arson and imagine the harm this would cause to our organisation were it made known that this stemmed from an Anglophobic act at Battle Abbey by English Heritage.

“You are the custodians of the English people’s heritage and by deliberately insulting our proud/tragic past with your childish controversy you risk so much, particularly when the many aggrieved can strike at any time at any place.

“I do hope you have the intellect to take my advice seriously, if not then it will be clear that you hold nothing but contempt for the English and there will be those who understand that further corruption of our historic sites by English Heritage may only be stopped through aggressive displays.

“This would sadden me greatly.”

A spokesperson for English Heritage said: “We take threats to the properties in our care very seriously.

“We already have security in place as a matter of course.

“We are working closely with Sussex Police and are considering with them what measures to take.”

See page 6 for Tim Hawkes‘ letter in full.