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Battle, Sussex

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BATTLE is an ancient parish, market and union town, and polling place for the Eastern division of the county, 56 miles from London, on the road to Hastings, 8 north-west from Hastings, and gives name to the hundred and union, in the rape and county court district of Hastings, diocese of Chichester, archdeaconry of Lewes, and deanery of Dallington. It was anciently called Epiton, but derived its present title from the celebrated Battle of Hastings, fought here in 1066, for the English crown, by Harold II, and William the Norman, in which King Harold and his brother Gurth were slain. Battle stands near a range of hills, which formed the battle ground. Battle Abbey, now the seat of the Duke of Cleveland, was founded on the scene of the battle by William the Norman, and dedicated to St. Martin: here many illustrious personages are buried, among whom are several members of the Echingham family: in the Abbey was preserved the celebrated Battle Abbey Roll, which formed a list of those families which came over with William the Norman: the great hall is ancient and remarkable for its timber roof; it is 57 feet in length, the same in height, and 31 feet wide: the gate-house, or entrance from the town, is also deserving of observation; it directly fronts the street from the London road; it is a tower, about 35 feet square and 54 feet high, comprising three stories, with an octagon turret at each angle; it is thought to have been erected somewhere about the time of Edward III., when the abbey was enclosed and fortified; it is one of the most perfect specimens of monastic gatehouses in the kingdom: the ruins of the abbey cover three sides of a square: there are nine elegant arches remaining of the Abbey church. The market day is on the second Tuesday in each month, and there are fairs on Whit-Monday and 22nd November, much frequented for cattle and pedlery, and a sheep fair on the 6th September. The county police court and station, which was erected in 1861, is a handsome range of building, situated at the junction of the London and Lewes roads, at the entrance to the town; the building consists of court room, witnesses' room, guardroom for the reception of prisoners, and superintendent's office, which is also used as a retiring room for the magistrates; six cells, and an airing yard; there are also good residences for the superintendent, one sergeant, and one constable. Petty sessions are held here the second and fourth Tuesday in each month. The church of St. Mary was founded by Ralph, who was Abbot of Battle from 1107 to 1124: it consists of a nave chancel, two aisles, and square embattled tower 70 feet high: the font is a good specimen of the Norman style, and has every appearance of being as old as the foundation: beneath the chancel is a spacious vault, in which the remains of the Webster family are deposited: here are some ancient brasses, fine painted glass, and several monuments, one to Sir Anthony Browne, K.G., Master of the Horse to Henry VIII., who died in 1548. The register dates from about 1475. The living is a deanery and vicarage, gross yearly value 738 14s. 10d., with residence, in the gift of the Duke of Cleveland: the Very Rev. Edward Neville Crake, M.A., of Trinity College, Cambridge, is the dean and vicar. The Battle Cemetery, which is situated below the National school; to the east of the Lower Lake was opened in April, 1862: it comprises 2 and a half acres of prettily laid-out ground, with two chapels. The Battle division of the county police comprises a superintendent, two sergeants, and twelve constables. The Commissioners of Income and Assessed Taxes meet at the George hotel. In the neighbourhood are gunpowder mills, upon an extensive scale, worked by Messrs. Charles Laurence and Son.

NETHERFIELD, which gives name to a hundred, is a hamlet of Battle, where a new church has been erected for the accommodation of the inhabitants of that distant part of the parish. The church of St. John the Baptist, together with the parsonage and schools, was completed in the year 1860: the whole was built and endowed by Sarah Lady Webster, in memory of her late husband, Sir Godfrey Webster, Bart., of Battle Abbey. The church was designed by Mr. S.S. Teulon, of London, and is a beautiful edifice: in the chancel are four painted windows, the east one being the memorial window: there is also a very handsome carved stone and marble reredos. The living is in the gift of the Bishop of Chichester, and held by the Rev. Robert Richard Duke, LL.B., of Caius College, Cambridge. Quarry Hill, the seat of Samuel Carter Esq., by whom it was erected is delightfully situated on the hill to the south of the town, commanding beautiful views of the Abbey and surrounding country; the adjacent grounds are varied and pleasing. Hemingfold, the residence of John Henry Wagner, Esq, J.P., is prettily situated in grounds beautifully laid out. The hundred of Battle consists a franchise, and the inhabitants are exempt from service on juries for the county.

[Kelly's Post Office Directory of Essex, Herts, Middlesex, Kent, Surrey and Sussex, 1867.]