2016 - the 950th Anniversary of The Battle of Hastings
14th October 2016 marks the 950th anniversary of William the Conqueror's invasion of England and his victory over Harold at The Battle of Hastings. William was Duke of Normandy and afterwards he ruled over England and much of northern France leading to a complete change in the way England was governed for many years to come so the battle really was a pivotal point in the history of both France and England. All over Normandy throughout the year there has been an array of medieval celebrations taking place to mark this anniversary. Medieval markets, re-enactments, hands-on workshops, sound and light shows and exhibitions are just a few things in the offing. More details of the remaining events can be found here. However, even when these events are over you still have the chance to visit the many places in Normandy associated with William:
Principal Normandy sites associated with William The Conqueror
William was born at Falaise Castle, 45 minutes from Eco-Gites of Lenault. The castle has been rebuilt over they years and now offers visitors a very innovative visit with hand held tablets bringing the walls of the castle alive. Please note the castle is closed throughout January and December.
Château Ducal (Caen Castle)
The castle in Caen was built around 1060 by William the Conqueror and is one of the largest medieval enclosures found in Europe. Today it houses various museums including the Normandy Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts. The castle is open every day and is free although there are charges for some of the museums within the castle.
Abbaye aux Dames, Caen
Founded by William's wife, Matilda of Flanders around 1060, The Women's Abbey was an abbey for Benedictine nuns. It now is home to The Regional Council of Lower Normandy and guided tours are possible at various times.
Abbaye aux Hommes, Caen
In 1063 William the Conqueror founded the Benedictine abbey of Saint Etienne (Saint Stephen in English) in Caen, known as the Men's Abbey. It is now one of the most stunning and beautiful city halls in France and guided tours are offered on most days.
This must be the most famous thing associated with The Battle of Hastings. The Tapestry is a huge 70 metres (230 ft) long but despite it's name it is, in fact, an embroidered cloth not a tapestry. It depicts the events before, during and after The Invasion and is open for visits all year round (and much quieter in winter!) Interestingly the way it depicts the story is very different to the one I was certainly taught in school ... but I will leave you to decide which version you think is correct. Either way it is a magnificent creation now designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a trip to Normandy without visiting it really is incomplete! I have been 3 times and each time see new things I have previously missed.
If you are thinking about visiting Normandy in this 950th anniversary year Eco-Gites of Lenault is well placed to get to all the sites detailed above. I have yet to visit either Abbey and I have not been to Falaise since the brought in the hand-held tablets so I shall try to visit these three soon. Have you been to any of these sites associated with William?
Finally for an amusing if rather inaccurate poem about the aftermath of Williams's victory at Hastings plesae do read this blog post - 1066 and all that.
All photos are either my own or reproduced with permission from Commons Wikimedia