Tucked away down Battle’s alleyways, in gardens and in secret corners of the town are a series of sculptures depicting the town’s history and heritage. The sculpture trail is one of three Battle Heritage Walking Trails supported by Lottery funding and created by the community of Battle. I’ve been a resident for over ten years and had no idea that the Battle sculpture trail existed so I headed into town to check it out, along with a few other of Battle’s gems.

First stop is the Almonry and Battle Museum of Local History. You’ll find it at the top of the High Street. The Museum exhibits include a Saxon battle-axe, probably from the Battle of Hastings, the World’s oldest Guy Fawkes effigy, dinosaur footprints and many other local artefacts.

The Almonry Gardens are the location of the first sculpture in the trail. The stone orb, hand-carved by Eliott Brotherton, displays Battle’s motto ‘Per Bellum Patria’ which means Through War a Nation. Oak leaves, acorns and flowers are carved into the orb together with local orchids, butterflies and bees.Cross over the High Street and turn left into Mount Street then take the second turning on the right – but not before you’ve noted the pretty crooked cottage on the bend. Down this little lane you’ll come to Cherry Gardens, a tranquil spot where you can take in the views across the Sussex countryside.Outside the garden is a hand carved sculpture by Gavin Roweth. This sculpture commemorates the important role Battle parish church, St Mary the Virgin, has played in England’s history. The sculpture’s carvings include religious references and depict ancient wall paintings found in the church.

Make your way back to the High Street and head towards the Abbey. It may take some time because you’ll want to drop into Battle’s many independent shops and stores en-route. British Design British Made, Barnaby’s, White Sails and DapperM are some of my favourites. We also have a very nice book shop, Rother Books, in a beautiful half-timbered historical building.  

When you reach the abbey walk past Pilgrim’s Rest, a picturesque 600 year old Wealden hall on your right and down to the bottom of the lane. Take the asphalt path into Park Lane and you’ll come to our next stop, another hand-carved sculpture and bench by Gavin Roweth. This sculpture commemorates Battle Bonfire Boyes and the town’s gunpowder heritage. Battle is said to have produced the finest gunpowder in Europe.

If you visited the museum at the beginning of the trail, you’ll recognise Battle’s Guy Fawkes effigy. The wooden head was made from a local tree in 1795 and is still used every year in the bonfire parade. Bonfire celebrations in Battle go back to 1646 when St Marys Church allocated ‘17 shillings and 6 pence’ for gunpowder treason rejoicing. The bonfire tradition in Battle is still going strong today.

Retrace your steps back to the abbey, cross over the High Street and continue down Upper Lake passing St Mary’s church on your left. When you reach the roundabout at the end of the road you’ll find yourself at Lower Lake. The hand-carved stone way marker by Gavin Roweth, shows distances to significant locations in Battle’s history. Distances to Pevensey, where William the Conqueror’s fleet landed, and Battle’s twin town of St Valery sur Somme are both engraved on the marker.

Continue past the wild-flower meadow and over the railway crossing until you come to Marley Gardens. Here you’ll find a hand-carved stone sculpture and bench by Gavin Roweth, commemorating Newbery Preserves, a jam-making factory in the High Street, and the fruit farms and orchards which are a part of Battle’s agricultural heritage. From here head back up to Battle High Street where you could visit Battle Abbey or stop for tea and cake in Bluebell’s Tearoom.

To download a guide to Battle's Heritage trails, click the map below:

Thank you to Suzanne Jones from The Travelbunny for this guest blog post.

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