Question mark over Olympic Torch visit to Battle

A QUESTION mark remains over whether the public will be allowed to see the Olympic Torch when it visits Battle Abbey, despite English Heritage reportedly backing the idea of allowing residents to witness the historic occasion.

Last year it was revealed that Battle Abbey will welcome the torch on July 18.

But it was unclear if the visit would be open to the public and with Battle not included on the official Olympic Torch relay route, it was feared residents could miss out.

But following a recent meeting of the Battle Abbey Advisory Committee, which is attended by representatives from a number of community groups, English Heritage apparently seemed to back the idea of allowing the public on to the site to see the torch.

Dale Cromwell, chair of the Battle and District Chamber of Commerce, attended the meeting.

He said: “English Heritage said they would like to have the opportunity for as many people to experience it as possible.

“But it’s not their decision.”

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) is expected to carry out a site visit shortly to finalise the details of the visit.

LOCOG will make the final decision as to whether the public will be allowed at the visit.

It is believed LOCOG wants to take a publicity photo of the Olympic Torch alongside the Harold Stone, where the Saxon King is believed to have fallen during the bloody battle in 1066.

But community groups are calling for the photo to be taken outside the iconic Abbey Gatehouse instead, allowing people to watch from the Abbey Green.

Dale said: “Pretty much everyone in the meeting wanted it to be outside the front gates so everyone can congregate on the Green outside the front.

“All these groups were unanimous the best place for it to be was outside the gatehouse.”

Dawn Champion, area manager for English Heritage in the South East, said: “We are thrilled to welcome the Olympic Torch for a short stop off at Battle Abbey.

“At the moment we are still in the process of completing arrangements for the day which will be a wonderful opportunity for one of England’s most historic places to be part of such an historic event.”

The Olympic Torch will travel in convoy to the Abbey at 7.45am on July 18 before the convoy heads to Hastings Furnicular Railway at 8.17am to pick up the route, which will then head towards Rye.