We were really thrilled to be chosen by NetMums to help them review some of the English Heritage properties over the summer. Our first assignment was Battle Abbey in East Sussex. The boy has been pestering me ever since his school topic of knights to take him to a castle, Battle Abbey is not quite a castle, but the boy didn’t seem to mind.
So on Sunday we set off, the sun was shining and it turned out to be the perfect day.
It took about one and a half hours for us to get to Battle, and another 10 to find our way around the road block! Yes we had managed to choose the day that they shut off the High Street in Battle for a soap box race. This only added to the interest, but the boy was so excited about the Abbey, that we didn’t watch for long.
I was very impressed with the parking as it was right next to the Abbey entrance, and I though was very reasonable, as a member you pay £1 for the day! and even non members only paid £3.50 if you went inside the attraction.
It costs £7.80 for adults and £4.70 for children or you can buy a family ticket for £20.30 to enter the Abbey.
We weren’t sure what to expect, as we had never been to an English Heritage site before, and I think we were all pleasantly surprised!
The gatehouse to the Abbey is very impressive, just like that of a proper castle with turrets and arrow slit windows, and once inside we were given our audio guides. (These are included in your entrance fee) The audio guides are small radios that you can hold to your ear, and you punch in numbers from the information boards and are told a story.
The first building that you enter is a modern one with a café and toilets, here you start your journey back in time with an illustrative corridor. The boy was pleased that the plague was on there, as he is now and expert after our visit to York Dungeons. Stepping down a twisting staircase (or a lift) to the lower floor, you can watch a short film all about the battle of 1066, and how the events changed Britain forever. There are interactive exhibits and displays of armour that you can touch. We played a video type game to see how long it took the English army to march to Battle and meet the Norman invaders. The boy enjoyed this, but was keen to get going and listen to his audio guide.
We set off from the building listening to our audio guides, it turned out the boy’s one was slightly different to ours, more horrible history’s. The next part of the tour is all outside, and on such a beautiful day was a lovely stroll through a small wooded area before we went out into the battle fields. There are lots of information stops, and some very interesting facts along the way. Sadly part of the walk was closed (due to reseeding work) so we were directed a shorter route up the hill. You still got the feel for the great battle, and we decided later we all learnt something walking in our ancestors footsteps.
Once back at the top of the hill, the feeling changes as you step into the ruins of the Abbey. Here you learn about the monks that lived there 100 years after the battle took place. You can see beautiful vaulted ceilings, and hear how they would have lived. There is not much of the original building remaining, but still enough to give you an idea of the size. You can stand on the Altar stone where Harold is believed to have been killed, and the boy decided this moment needed to be rein-acted for us!
After a spot of picnic lunch, in a lovely cool wooded area, and a cup of tea from the café the boy decided we needed to do it all again! So we picked up a new audio guide and set off, this time he had an adult guide, and he said that it was the same story just longer words!
I can safely say that we all gained something from our visit. Dad and I learnt some facts that we didn’t know before, and the boy learnt about a part of important British history. I asked the boy what he thought, and he very kindly let me video his answer, so you can see for yourself.
I would say if you visit this site, it is more suited to older children who perhaps have an interest in history, or a good attention span. There are also lots of steps, and obviously this can be quite a hilly site, but English Heritage have done their best to accommodate all abilities with shorter and less sloping routes. It is a beautiful part of the country, and a lovely walk of about 30/40 minutes, although could be a little less fun in the rain! There is a large and impressive building in the middle of the site, but this is a private school and not open to the public. Finally there is a Museum, and shop for those souvenirs!
The boy chose a ruler that listed all the kings and queens of England “The Ruler of England” I liked the pun!
When we got home from our epic adventure I think we all agreed it had been a lovely day, and hopefully the first of a few days out over the summer.
We were given a pass to get into this attraction by Netmums as well as our travel expenses, the opinions remain ours and have in no way been changed or altered.