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History

When did it all begin?

The attractive town of Battle gets its name from the Battle of Hastings, which was fought between Harold, the Saxon King and William the Conqueror in 1066. This battle was so significant that it changed the course of English history.

The town grew up around the Abbey of St Martin which was built by William the Conqueror after the battle. It is said that William vowed that, should he win the battle, he would build such an abbey. Battle Abbey was built between 1070 and 1094, and the high altar is believed to have been placed on the spot where Harold fell. Today, the Abbey ruins and the battlefield are cared for by English Heritage and are well worth a visit. The imposing Abbey Gatehouse, built circa 1338, can be seen as you look down the length of the High Street. Battle has some notable Georgian buildings along its High Street; the cottages and houses near the Abbey date from around 1700.

The Parish church of St Mary was built in Norman times and, for the most part, is 12th-Century in construction. It offers the visitor rare 14th Century wall paintings and a Norman font, amongst other things. At the Northern end of the High Street can be found the Almonry, which was built in 1090 and now houses the Town Council and the Battle Museum of Local History.

The site occupied by the Senior School, dates back to the beginning of modern British history, with commanding views over the very battle field where William the Conqueror defeated King Harold in 1066.

The Abbot’s house was built in the thirteenth century, whilst a monastery grew up around the church. A substantial part of the main school building originates from that time, the most modern addition from the 16th Century. At the time of the Reformation, many of the Abbey buildings were destroyed but the Abbot’s house passed into private hands.

St. Etheldreda’s School, from Bexhill, took over the property in 1922 and has been in continuous occupation since that date. Generations of pupils have experienced a sense of privilege at being educated in such majestic surroundings.

ln 1989 the all-girls school merged with Glengorse and Hydneye, a local prep school and, becoming coeducational, accepted pupils from kindergarten to university age. In 1995, following a merger with Charters Ancaster, the school transferred its Prep School to a new site in Bexhill, adding a Nursery, playing fields, an astro turf pitch and a magnificent indoor swimming pool to its facilities.