One of the most famous battles in English history took place on a field in West Sussex on 14 October 1066. William of Normandy (afterwards known as 'the Conqueror') defeated Harold Godwinson to become King of England. This conflict marked a radical change in Britain, from Saxon pastoralism and rudimentary towns, to Norman stone builders with more sophisticated tastes. Not only did the Normans bring castles to English shores but they also brought countless new foodstuffs and ways of cooking. The language changed too, so Battle marks a very significant milestone in our history.
To commemorate the place where Harold fell, William ordered the Abbey of St Martin to be built. Now a ruin, there are plenty of buildings of the period to be seen at the site.
Walking around the battlefield with an audioguide is a great way to learn how Harold could easily have won. Unfortunately his troops were exhausted from fighting the battle of Stamford Bridge where they had defeated Harold Hardrada's invading Norwegians and then marched down from Yorkshire to Sussex. The English army had the advantage of the high ground on Senlac Ridge but broke ranks to chase down the hill after the retreating Normans, who then turned on them, a bloody battle ensuing. Fascinating insights into this pivotal change in British history can be gained at Battle Abbey in the imposing Gatehouse which dates back to 1338, looked after by English Heritage.
After a fascinating visit and lots of walking around the battlefield we needed a sit down and refreshments. We tried the Bluebell Cafe Tea Room, a little gem with great afternoon tea.
Walk off your carbohydrate overload up the High Street and admire the cottages and houses near the Abbey, dating from around 1700. There are also great Georgian buildings too, as well as the parish church of St Mary. The church was built in Norman times and boasts 14th century wall paintings. At the top of the High Street is the Almonry which was built in 1090 and is now home to the Town Council and the Battle local history museum.
Want to find out more about this charming spot? Why not visit Battle on a bespoke Tasteful Travel tour.
With a thousand years of history, Hastings boasts one of the largest beach launched fishing fleets in the UK. Stroll around amongst the iconic tall black net stores and watch the boats unloading their catch (if you are early enough). From the top of the funicular railway you get a breathtaking view of the town and the sea which was so important throughout its history.
No visit to Hastings is complete without a visit to the Old Town. The opening of the Jerwood contemporary art gallery and the reopened Pier, have seen Hastings gaining a reputation as an up and coming destination with a vibrant art scene. Dubbed 'Shoreditch-on-Sea' the arty folk have been flocking down from London where they can no longer afford to live or work. Accompanying this crowd is a fabulous foodie trend, with an artisan brewery at the historic First In Last Out pub and an organic bakery, Judges, which also has a small café. Restaurants, cafés and craft shops abound in Hastings and there is something for everyone, from fish and chips at Maggie's to a multitude of world food experiences to posh nosh at Pier 9 at the Zanzibar Hotel.
So never mind your bucket and spade, head down to Hastings for a gourmet experience with added seaside!
Want to know more? Discover Hastings on a bespoke culinary history tour designed for you especially by Tasteful Travel.
The rise and rise of the Staycation has been monitored over the past 10 years or so, since the phrase was first coined. Research by Visit England showed an increase of about 17% from 2008 to 2013 for Brits taking short breaks in the UK. So why is it that we are increasingly choosing not to fly?
The recession made people more canny with their money, preferring to shop around for a bargain break rather than splashing out on a holiday abroad. However, as the economy has improved the demand for staycations has not abated, in fact travellers are filling the gaps between holidays with weekends away to recharge their batteries after a stressful week.
In these troubled times with the threat of terrorist action worldwide, even more than ever people are staying close to home instead of taking international flights. This does not mean that the holiday is less exciting. When staying in a country that you know, the emphasis of your break is on what you want to experience. Instead of lying on a beach or doing a spot of sightseeing, on a staycation you might decide to take a gourmet break including wine tastings and fine dining. Alternatively you could take a themed historical tour, following the footsteps of Julius Caesar or Drake's journey from Plymouth Hoe! to London, or trailing Harald Hardrada from Stamford Bridge to Hastings, for example. Here at Tasteful Travel we combine these two ideas to offer a complete culinary history experience. Planned exclusively for you or your group.
On a staycation you can combine your interests with a package, so you may add a couple of days golfing to your gourmet break, or learn a new skill such as foraging. Your holiday is only limited by your imagination.