The charming market town of Battle which was built up around the magnificent Battle Abbey has a thriving mix of unique independent shops and businesses including characterful pubs and a number of local restaurants. Its enduring heritage can be seen everywhere you look from iconic and characterful buildings, original signage of businesses from times past and of course the magnificent Battle Abbey gateway but many may not be aware that you can also discover more of Battle’s heritage and history through its walking trails. The sculpture trail, in particular, is one of three Battle heritage Walking Trails supported by Lottery funding and created by the community of Battle. It is not only a great way to discover site-specific art, but it also leads you along paths, gardens and to secret corners of the town that you may otherwise miss.
The creative talents of sculptors Gavin Roweth and Elliott Brotherton are behind the sculptures on the trail, which were created based on historical research undertaken by the community.
Elliott Brotherton’s hand-carved, stone orb displays intricately carved oak leaves, acorns and flowers along with local orchids, butterflies and bees. Perhaps most poignant is the Battle motto inscription ‘Per Bellum Patria’ meaning, through war a nation.
One of Roweth’s sculptures along the trail commemorates the importance of St Mary the Virgin, Battle’s parish church, in England’s history. Ancient wall paintings and religious references, found in the church, are depicted in the carving. Another of Roweth’s pieces celebrates the historic significance that Battle played in the production of the finest gunpowder in Europe. This hand-carved sculpture displays the Battle Bonfire Boyes logo and gunpowder. The hand-carved stone way marker, also created by Roweth, shows distances to significant locations in Battle’s history, including to Pevensey, where William the Conqueror’s fleet landed and Battle’s twin town of St Valery sur Somme.
Further information on the trails, the history of Battle and what’s on, can be found at The Almonry – the Battle Museum of Local History. It is here that you’ll find the head, made of pear wood, of the world’s oldest Guy Fawkes and his silk cloak along with detailed history of Battle’s Gunpowder industry. The tranquil Almonry Gardens are a great place to pause for a moment of calm reflection before carrying on your journey around the town.
December is a great time of year to visit Battle as it comes alive with Christmas festivities, including the Gala Late Night Shopping event, on Thursday 8 December, where a warm welcome awaits shoppers — spend a magical evening browsing the independent shops, looking for festive goodies and that perfect gift. From the end of November, the Battle Christmas lights are switched on making this traditional town even brighter. Get into the Christmas spirit at the St Mary’s Christmas Tree Festival, which takes place on the 3 – 4 December.
In addition to the regular Christmas events in the town, this year Battle Memorial Hall is hosting Journey of the Magi, presented by the Springs Dance Company, on 20 – 21 December. “The festive, witty production of dance, theatre, song and poetry” is suitable for all the family in the run up to Christmas. Plus, Battle Festival, now in its eleventh year, is presenting a radio adaptation of It’s a Wonderful Life, in Abbots Hall, Battle Abbey School. “This beloved Christmas classic comes to captivating life as a live 1940s radio broadcast. With the help of five performers and a sound effects artist.”
History in Battle is still very much alive and waiting to be discovered!