1066 and Battlefield

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Battle Abbey © David Gill

Battle Abbey was established on the top of the hill that formed a central part of the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The battlefield is now an integral part of the English Heritage site and visitors are able to walk the slopes where interpretation boards help to explain the different stages of the engagement.

Pevensey Castle: 1939–45

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Pevensey Castle © David Gill

During the Second World War gun emplacements and pill boxes were inserted into the Roman and medieval remains at Pevensey Castle in Sussex (see here). A gun emplacement was constructed on the north side of the perimeter where parts of the Roman wall had collapsed.

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Pevensey Castle © David Gill

These later additions to the defences were marked by the attachment of Ministry signs.

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Pevensey Castle © David Gill

Pevensey Castle: Roman signs

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Pevensey Castle © David Gill

The west gate of the Roman Saxon Shore fort at Pevensey is marked (in the path) with a Ministry sign. The gate itself is flanked by massive bastions. The Roman walls in effect became an outer bailey for the medieval castle.

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Pevensey Castle, Roman west gate © David Gill

Bayham Abbey: Guidebook

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1974 (1985)

Bayham Abbey in Sussex was placed in State Guardianship in 1961 and excavated through the 1970s. S.E. Rigold prepared the first official guidebook for the DOE in 1974; it was republished as a English Heritage Handbook (note, not ‘guidebook’), and still in the familiar blue cover, by the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England. The format follows the familiar pattern of History followed by description. There is a site plan in text (p. 12). Black and white photographs appear through the text. A glossary is printed inside the back cover.

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Bayham Abbey © David Gill

The abbey was of the Premonstratensian order and had been founded by 1211.

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1974; English Heritage 1985; rev. reprint 2016

The guidebook was reprinted (with a colour cover) in 2004 as an English Heritage guide.

Roman Winter

IMG_6257Among the mosaics still in situ in the Roman villa at Bignor is a panel of winter. The room was on the west side of the complex. The villa was discovered in July 1811, and the mosaics were opened to the public in 1814. Special buildings were constructed to protect the mosaics from further damage.

Leading Visitor Attractions 2016: English Heritage

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Pendennis Castle © David Gill

The 2016 list of Leaving Visitor Attractions in the UK has been published. The top English Heritage site continues to be Stonehenge (at no. 23) with 1,381,855 visitors, with a modest 1.1 % increase on 2015 figures.

The remaining English Heritage properties are (with overall ranking):

  • Dover Castle (no. 98): 333,289
  • Osborne House (no. 116): 265,011
  • Tintagel Castle (no. 125): 229,809
  • Audley End House and Gardens (no. 149): 165,799
  • Whitby Abbey (no. 151): 151,810
  • Clifford’s Tower (no. 154): 146,703
  • Battle Abbey (no. 160): 137,771
  • Kenwood (no. 161): 134,416
  • Carisbrooke Castle (no. 164): 127,012
  • Wrest Park (no. 166): 124,305
  • Kenilworth Castle (no. 169): 107,993
  • Housesteads Roman Fort (no. 172): 102,004
  • Eltham Palace and Gardens (no. 176): 94,635
  • Bolsover Castle (no. 179): 91,880
  • Walmer Castle and Gardens (no. 180): 91,752
  • Pendennis Castle (no. 191): 73,907

The major increase in visitors were seen at Osborne House, Tintagel Castle, Audley End House and Gardens, Battle Abbey, Carisbrooke Castle, Wrest Park, Walmer Castle and Gardens. There was a significant downturn in visitors for Kenwood.

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Walmer Castle and Gardens © David Gill

Pevensey Castle: WW2 defences

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Pevensey Castle © David Gill

The fall of France in the spring of 1940 meant that Sussex became the front line. The ruins of Pevensey Castle—a Roman Saxon Shore fort as well as a medieval castle—were used to disguised strong points. Teams from the Ministry assisted with the construction of the defences so that they would blend into the ruins of the Roman and medieval walls.

This pill box was mounted on the wall of the medieval keep. Note the Ministry sign placed below it: ‘Gun Emplacement / 1939-1945’.