Despite me having very little interest in owning a a car again, they can be handy to have sometimes. Thankfully I have a very good friend with a car. We packed up last Monday and headed south for the bank holiday to have a look around Hastings, Battle abbey and battleground and Bodiam Castle.
We got into Hastings just in time for the cafes to start opening for breakfast. Once one that did ‘American Pancakes’ was spotted we were sold. It was amazing. Proper pancakes, maple syrup and bacon. You better believe I put syrup on that bacon as well.
After breakfast we took a stroll around the town and water front. We went up the funicular railway to the top of castle hill where there unfortunately isn’t much of a castle left.
The original plan was to take the East Hill railway back down, but instead we ended up meandering down the hill and stumbling upon a bakery churning out amazing brownies and the biggest collection of ramshackle antique shops I’ve seen this side of the Atlantic. I lost it a bit upon seeing a bin of boxed Atari games, an Atari 800 computer and a NES. I opened the cartridge door on the NES, saw Super Mario Bros. and smiled.
After much deliberation over picking up a chaise lounge or not, we made our way back to the car and set out for Battle.
There was a medieval fair going on at Battle Abbey on the day as well. It just turned out to be a bit of a market infront of the abbey with vendors in fancy dress. Ah well. I was suprised at how close the abbey was to the high street. It’s actually on the high street.
Like most religious houses, it was stripped of all decoration and given to one of Henry VIII’s mates as a house. Now what buildings that are left intact are part of Battle Abbey School. The high alter of the abbey was placed supposedly where King Harold fell during the battle. There is now a plaque there to mark the spot.
There’s a walking path around the battlefield as well. There’s a short one that just skirts it, but the long path isn’t really all that long. It takes in some nice scenery though woods and a lilly pond. It was hard to walk through it and not picture all the carnage that happened there a nearly a thousand years ago. You really have to hand it to the English though; they put up a good fight despite having spent the previous several weeks marching to, from and engaging in battles.
By this point we were feeling a bit beat, but decided to press on to Bodiam castle even if it was just to walk around the outside. It was well worth it.
When castles are pictured in fairy tales and the like, this is the sort of place that is described; square, towers and a moat. It was built in 1385 by permission of Richard II to defend the area against the French during the 100 Years War. During the English Civil war the owner of the castle at the time, a Royalist, had to sell it off to pay fees brought against him by Parliament. The castle was stripped and left to ruin. Since then it has belonged to several different aristocrat types until donated to the National Trust in 1925.
There were some activities happening around Bodiam as well for the bank holiday and one of them was have-a-go archery. Now usually this is just for kids and I get all excited for nothing. However this setup was for kids and adults, score! I had my first try at archery. I hit the target once and had slightly sore fingers but liked it so much that I’ve signed myself up to a intro lesson next Saturday morning. It won’t be ye olde wooden long bows like at Bodiam but should still be fun, hopefully.
Oh and on our way back to London we were behind this thing while in a mini-traffic jam.
Loads more photos are over on Flickr.