Hastings, 4 July 2009
Today we drove up to Battle Abbey, and spent most of the day there. The original abbey was built on the site of the Battle of Hastings, with the high altar on the place where Harold Godwinson was killed. Like most other abbeys in England, it underwent several renovations before falling into ruin after the Dissolution. One of its main buildings is now a private school, though, and seemed in good repair from the outside. The main feature of the grounds is, of course, the battlefield itself. Now it's a peaceful place for a pleasant walk, with wild roses and other flora. Quite different than over 900 years ago.
There were two activities being held at the Abbey today which held our interest.
The first was a 'have-a-go' archery session, teaching people a quick basic archery lesson and letting them fire a set of blunted arrows. We all had a turn at it, and DD had three turns over the course of the day, getting a bullseye and several close ones. DH got two through himself, and alas, I was the worst archer of the three. It was fun, though, and DD wishes to explore archery more at home.
The other activity, which was quite fascinating, was a series of falconry sessions by Raphael Falconry. We learned about the history of falconry, especially around the Norman Conquest, and over the course of the day we saw a variety of different birds of prey - Harris hawks, peregrines, lanners, kestrels, and even an owl. During one of the demonstrations, DD was selected to be a "stunt partridge" by pulling the lure for a Harris hawk.
It was really rather informative, learning how the different birds were used in falconry, how they attacked their prey, what their flight styles are. It was very different from any other bird of prey exhibit I'd ever seen.
After the last falconry session, we came back to our room, then went to Mass at nearby Holy Redeemer since we're headed back to London tomorrow.
10 hours ago