Great Gatehouse 1338, Battle Abbey, Battle, East Sussex, England

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Battle Abbey

East Sussex

On this spot raged the pivotal battle in the last successful invasion of England in 1066: an event that had an unparalleled impact on the country’s subsequent social structure, language and, well, pretty much everything. Four years after, the Normans began constructing an abbey here, a penance ordered by the pope for the loss of life incurred. Only the foundations of the original church remain; the altar’s position is supposedly the spot King Harold took an arrow in his eye.

Other impressive monastic buildings survive and make for atmospheric explorations. The battlefield’s innocently rolling lush hillsides do little to evoke the ferocity of the event, but high-tech interactive presentations and a film at the visitors centre, as well as blow-by-blow audio tours, do their utmost to bring the battle to life. You can now survey the battlefield from the new rooftop viewing platform, a good place to start a visit.

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