In 1070 the Pope ordered the Normans to do penance for killing so many people during their conquest of England. So William the Conqueror vowed to build an abbey where the Battle of Hastings had taken place, with the high altar of its church on the very spot where King Harold fell in that battle on Saturday, 14 October 1066. He did start building it and named it Battle Abbey, though he died before it was completed. Its church was finished in about 1094 and consecrated during the reign of his son William Rufus. It was re-modelled in the late 13th century but virtually destroyed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries under King Henry VIII.
The Main Gate of the Abbey
The building used to be a large private home, but it was an all girls' boarding school when Canadian troops were stationed there during the Second World War and still boasts a school to this day. All that is left of the church itself today is its outline on the ground, but parts of some of the abbey's buildings are still standing: those built between the 13th and 16th century. These are still in use as an Independent School known as Battle Abbey School.
The church's altar allegedly stood on the spot where Harold died. This is now marked by a plaque on the ground, and nearby is a monument to Harold erected by the people of Normandy in 1903. The ruins of the abbey, with the adjacent battlefield, are a popular tourist attraction (see Battle of Hastings reenactment, for example).
Ruins at Battle Abbey
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