This year, for the first time we have joint English Heritage so we are happily making the most of our membership by visiting some local sites. Although to be honest the card covered its cost when we went to Kent in May and visited Dover Castle, Deal Castle and Walmer Castle.
We are lucky enough to live just outside of the very pretty and historic town of Battle in East Sussex. So Battle Abbey, which is home to the famous battleground where the 1066 Battle of Hastings took place is something we see most weeks. Bar one visit for the battle reenactment (which was superb fun) we have only ever smiled at the outside in the lat three years we have lived here but now we have the membership we are making frequent visits. Sometimes even just for the tea and cake as the prices (I was super surprised to note) are very reasonable and less than many of the coffee shops in the town. There is also a nice children's play park across from the cafe and that means our kids can run off and have some fun rather than being bored with us oldies!
This year is a special celebration for the site as it is 950 years since the Battle of Hastings and as such the site have been putting on special activities trough the year and have an extra special reenactment weekend on 15th - 16th October 2016. You can find out what it was like to be a Norman back in 1066 and discover how the Normans have influenced our culture today.
The Battle Abbey was built by William the Conqueror right after the battle of 1066 as a way to mark his great victory and atone for the bloodshed and then on Christmas day 1066 he was crowned King of England in Westminster Abbey.
What can you do while you are there?
1. Start at the visitor centre - under the cafe, there is a film you can watch, interactive exhibits to get involved with and the kids can even dress up. My kids are 9,9 and 12 and they all enjoyed their time in this area, learning more about life in 1066 and the battle.
2. Visit the Abbey Ruins - Especially on a nice day it is an absolute joy to spend time going round the ruins and imagining what life was like 950 years ago. My kids had such fun climbing and jumping up and down the footprints that remain from building long fallen down and my husband and I laid on the grass with the sun on our faces and listened to some beautiful live jazz from a wedding taking place on site.
3. Walk the Battlefield Trail - Allow a good hour to walk around the Battlefield and listen to the special audio guide (there is also an adapted version for the kids). Nowadays the land is peaceful and beautifully green with wildflowers everywhere but the audio guide will give you a full insight to what happened or of course you could come in October and watch the reenactment for yourself. New for this year there is also an impressive wood carved sculpture trail.
There is also trail along the terrace which gives sweeping views of the battlefield without you having to walk so far, great for wet or cold days.
4. Climb to the top of the Tower - and enjoy 360 views of Battle and the surrounding countryside. This is a new attraction for this year and the views are stunning. I'm also pleased to report that there is a separate staircase for the climb up and the one down and that it is not too narrow or steep, so as long as you can do stairs this one is suitable even for people like me who get a bit scared when things are too narrow or steep!
We found the English Heritage volunteer at the top to be very helpful and glad to take our photos. It was very nice to look out across our home town in this way.
I'm sure you'll agree that a trip to Battle Abbey looks great fun. If you are not a member of English Heritage the cost for entry is £10.10 for an adult (without gift aid) and £6.00 for a child or a family ticket (2 adults and up to 3 kids) is just £26.20, which I think is a real value price for a family day out. You will also need to pay for parking if you park in the English Heritage car park and that is £1 for a member or £3.50 for other visitors.
Opening times vary across the year, so you are best to check before you travel but during the main season and on weekends/ bank holidays it is generally 10am - 6pm.
Don't forget to visit on 15th or 16th October for the Battle reenactment (which has a cost even for members) or there is a Haunted Abbey week for October half term from 22nd October 2016.
I hope you have loads of fun, Mich x
I'm linking this post up with Fiona at Coombe Mill for #CountryKids.
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