Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for BATTLE

BATTLE, a small town, a parish, a subdistrict, a district, and a hundred, in Sussex. The town was called by the Saxons Epiton, signifying "heath land;" and took its present name from the great battle of the Conquest, in 1066, commonly called the battle of Hastings. It stands in a fine valley, three-fourths encircled by wooded hills, in the vicinity of the Tunbridge-Wells and Hastings railway, 7 miles NW of Hastings; and it has a station on the railway, a head post office,‡ two banking offices, and two chief inns. The principal street runs up a rising ground; and is confronted, at a brief distance, by battle Abbey, standing on the site of King Harold's camp, and on the spot where his standard was taken. This edifice was founded by the Conqueror, in commemoration of his victory; it contained his sword, his coronation-robe, and the roll-call of the knights who followed him from Normandy; and it was very richly endowed, and gave its abbots a seat in parliament. It passed, at the dissolution, to Sir Anthony Browne; continued with his descendants, the Lords Montacute, till the time of the fourth Lord; and was sold then to Sir Thomas Webster, and in 1857 to Lord Harry Vane. The buildings were converted into a mansion by Sir Anthony Browne; and, though still retaining a number of the original apartments, are so greatly changed as to present outwardly very little of their ancient character. The grand gateway still stands, and is chiefly late decorated English, of very beautiful workmanship; and a long range to the right of it was used till 1794 as the town hall, but has been allowed to go to ruin. A spot about ½ a mile distant, on the road to Hastings, commands the best view of the abbey, and at the same time affords a good comprehensive notion of the battlefield of the Conquest. The petty-sessions courthouse and county police station are a handsome edifice of 1861. The parish church is partly Norman, and was restored in 1869. There are three dissenting chapels, a mechanics' institute, a school with endowed income of £68, other charities with £80, and a workhouse built at a cost of £5,000. Extensive powder mills, of great note, are situated to the SW; and the walk to them, and the walks generally through the environs, are charming. A weekly market is held in the town on Tuesday; and fairs are held on Whit-Monday, 6 Sept., and 22 Nov.

The parish contains also the hamlet of Netherfield. Acres, 7,880. Real-property, £14,313. Pop., 3,293. Houses, 583. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Chichester. Value, £500. Patron, Lord H. Vane. The vicarage of Netherfield is separate.-The subdistrict comprises the parishes of battle, Brightling, Dallington, Penhurst, and Ashburnham. Acres, 20,476. Pop., 5,494. Houses, 1,001.—The district comprehends also the subdistrict of Ewhurst, containing the parishes of Ewhurst, Sedlescomb, Whatlington, and Mountfield; and the subdistrict of Bexhill, containing the parishes of Bexhill, Hollington, Catsfield, Crowhurst, and Westfield. Acres, 54,000. Poor-rates in 1866, £1,118. Pop. In 1861, 12,680. Houses, 2,394. Marriages in 1866, 103; births, 421,-of which 35 were illegitimate; deaths, 204,-of which 60 were at ages under 5 years, and-5 stages above 85 years. Marriages in the ten years 18510, 962; births, 4,246; deaths, 2,292. The places of worship in 1851 were 15 of the Church of England, with 3,799 sittings; 3 of Baptists, with 590 s.; 1 off Unitarians, with 350 s.; 10 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 1,195 s; and 1 of Freethinking Christians, with 25 s. The schools were 14 public day schools, with 1,046 scholars; 15 private day schools, with 303 s.; and 16 Sunday schools, with 1,140 s. The hundred of battle is in the rape of Hastings, and consists of the parishes of Battle and Whatlington. Acres, 9,135. Pop., 3,636. Houses, 652.


(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a small town, a parish, a subdistrict, a district, and a hundred"   (ADL Feature Type: "cities")
Administrative units: Battle AP/CP       Battle Hundred       Battle SubD       Battle PLU/RegD       Sussex AncC
Place: Battle

Go to the linked place page for a location map, and for access to other historical writing about the place. Pages for linked administrative units may contain historical statistics and information on boundaries.