Day trips are becoming a regular thing for me. They’re easy to book, usually fairly cheap, and I can sleep in my own comfy bed at the end of the day.
I took another day trip last weekend to Battle Abbey and Bodiam Castle. This time I went through the International Student House Travel Club, and it was a blast! The majority of those on the trip were studying at my school, but almost everyone was from a different part of the world. This is a fantastic club, because it is designed specifically for foreign students, like me, and gives us the opportunity to explore the country.
Our first stop of the day was to Battle Abbey, located in the town of Battle, East Sussex, which was named to commemorate the Battle of Hastings in 1066. For those that don’t know, this was a major battle in England’s history fought between the Normans and the Anglo-Saxons, and shaped the entire country and made it what it is today.
The abbey was built after the battle, and is built on what is believed to be the very ground on which the bloodbath took place.
We had a private tour of the property, and our tour guide spent a lot of time discussing the battle that took place right where we were standing! He painted a vivid picture of knights running up the hill in heavy armor, carrying swords and shields. They did this AFTER they had spent the last months walking through most of the country on foot. The battle lasted all day, beginning at sunrise. Those poor men must have simply been exhausted!
The Normans won the battle, and William was crowned king. This battle marked the culmination of William’s conquest of England.
It was a beautiful sunny day, but it was FREEZING out! The weather forecast lied to me-it was much colder than it was supposed to be. I had been so excited for warmer spring weather that I wore a dress….and regretted it the entire trip. Our tour guide didn’t wear a jacket, and none of us could figure out how he wasn’t shivering, since we all were!
This section of the abbey overlooks the battlefield.
The tour guide told us that this was were the novice monks lived when they first arrived at the abbey. He told us that it was now pretty much as it had been back then-there were no windows to keep the cold out. We were soooo cold bundled up in our jackets and scarves, and it was March. I felt so sorry for them when I thought of them living there during the actual freezing winter months! Those monks had to be tough cookies!
This is what their living quarters would have looked like. Note the high ceilings, which would have made it even colder!
This section has had some parts rebuilt due to a fire in the early 1900s. For a while it was an all-girls boarding school, and is now used as a day school for local children.
The monks got a bit annoyed at the amount of townspeople “invading” their church services, so they built a separate church for the villagers to use. It is still in use today. Unfortunately it was closed when we visited.
We were supposed to have a group lunch at the cafe, but there were not a lot of options, and they only had about three sandwiches available for the twelve of us. So, as an alternative, we ate at The Pilgrims right next door.
There are records as early as the 12th century that discuss The Pilgrims use as an inn, and has been in continual use since then. The inside was absolutely adorable and the owners were so sweet! I sat by the fire and had a delicious cup of hot chocolate to warm me up.
Next, we headed to Bodiam Castle.
When I think of the perfect fairytale castle, this is what I picture. Built in 1385, this castle was built to defend the area against a French invasion during the Hundred Years’ War.
It has a MOAT!! How awesome is that?! Sadly, there did not appear to be any alligators in the water, but there were extremely large fish and an army of ducks on guard! Ducks are vicious, and would definitely make me think twice before attacking…
Our tour guide for the castle was dressed in traditional knight’s clothing (without the armor, sadly) and gave us so much history about this place that it was difficult to remember everything! He was very upset that some historians believe that this was simply a knight’s “dream home,” and arduously argued that this was in fact a functional fortress designed to defend and keep enemies away. He convinced me, at least!
From the top of the tower, we could see for miles!
What a view!
It really does seem like a knight’s dream home! It looked like something out of a storybook.
And of course, no group day trip would be complete without a group picture. I’m granting us bonus points for making it a jumping one: