Day Three – Pevensey Castle The 1066 Walk – Sunday 12th May

Another sunny day forecast for the group today as we set off on our coach, this time to Pevensey Castle. One walking group this time and an excursion offered for those who wished to visit Battle Abbey and Hastings.

1066 Walk  – Pevensey – Boreham Street – 8 miles approx

On the 28th September 1066, William Duke of Normandy brought his army in 700 ships across the English Channel to Pevensey in East Sussex. He went on to defeat King Harold, who was struck in the eye by an arrow at the Battle of Hastings which commenced on 14th October 1066, thus changing the course of English history forever. Our walk will follow in the footsteps of William the Conqueror on this 1066 route, by setting out from the historical gem of Pevensey Castle which is one of Britain’s oldest fortresses.

Twenty-five minutes in Pevensey (partly due to the coach being blocked from the car park!) allowed us all to walk around the Castle grounds, the church yard and Pevensey itself.

At the 1066 signpost the route took us onto an enclosed path, to reach a bridleway gate next to the A27. The way crosses this road (with great care) to a bridleway gate opposite. We then cross fields with the river on our right, to Bridge Farm. The way now crosses the Pevensey Levels. This is a large wet grassland (8,904 acre) biological site of National and International conservation importance, criss-crossed with freshwater ditches, it is home to many nationally rare invertebrates. The track from here follows the river on our left for 2 miles, before leaving the river at around 4.5 miles. We then climbe go gently uphill to reach Church Farm, and onwards to Church Road and the 12 century All Saints Church. (The Church is situated some way from the village, probably due to the Black Death in the mid 14th century, when most villagers distanced themselves from the Church yard where plague victims were buried).  An ideal spot for our lunch on this glorious day, displaying the shrubs and flowers in their Spring glory.

The 1066 route then drops down a woodland path, for a superb view of Herstmonceux Castle, just three quarters of a mile from the Church.

Herstmonceux Castle is a brick-built castle, dating from the 15th century. It is one of the oldest significant brick buildings still standing in England. The castle was renowned for being one of the first buildings to use that material in England, and was built using bricks taken from the local clay, by builders from Flanders.It dates from 1441. The first written evidence of the existence of the Herst settlement appears in the Domesday Book.

The parks and gardens of Herstmonceux Castle and Place are Grade II listed on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.

In 1992 Alfred Bader, an alumnus of Queen’s University, Ontario, learned of the castle’s vacancy and offered to purchase it for his wife; she declined, joking that there would be “too many rooms to clean”. But in 1994, after intensive renovations, the Queen’s International Study Centre was opened.  The estate is now owned by the Queens University of Kingston, Ontario, Canada, who opened the Observatory Science Centre in 1995. They are renovating the domes, buildings and telescopes. The  grounds and gardens are open daily to the public, but the Castle isn’t. Maybe Mrs. Bader is still cleaning….?

We part company here at around 5 miles in, one group to remain and visit the Castle grounds. From here the path climbs steadily uphill to reach the Wartling Road, for a short distance, before crossing over to a path where we find ourselves beside the Well House. After crossing a field, the route enters Wartling Wood for just 50 yards, before entering a large field which follows the edge of the wood to Jenner’s Lane. The path then zig-zags six small fields, each with their own stile, to cross two further fields, before eventually reaching the main A271 road at Boreham Street, where we enjoyed refreshments in the Bulls Head, as the tea shop sadly closed at 3pm – rather early we all agreed for a Sunday –  Wouldn’t happen in Devon!

Another wonderful walk, ably led again by Barry and Sally, on this glorious Spring afternoon. The day was topped off by a farewell evening drink in Eastbourne as this was our last day in the area.

Barry & Sal H