Founded by William the Conqueror and housing the site of King Harold's murder by Norman knights, Battle Abbey is one of the most popular historic buildings in the south of England. It was constructed within yards of the site of the famous battle and offers an interesting view of the area from which visitors can visualise the whole picture of the warring troops.
The Black Monk is said to haunt the archways and corridors at Battle Abbey, a lady also wanders the abbey, wearing a red dress. More poignantly, a knight on horseback has been reported on or around the anniversary of the Battle of Hastings every October, moving across the battlefield.
Since 1719 the Abbey has been the home of the Webster family but the largest of the buildings, the Abbot's House, is currently occupied by a girls' school which naturally is not open to the public. A popular story that the ghost of Harold, complete with arrowed eye, has been seen near the spot where he was killed, now marked by a large fir tree, continues to be told.
Ghostly apparitions have also been noted in the ruined Great Hall. One afternoon in June 1971 Howard Shepherdson, a young guide, was conducting a party of visitors round the building and explaining the features to the crowd when a young boy cradled in the arms of his father suddenly enquired 'who is that man over there, Daddy, the one with the long sword?' Only the lad could see the phantom, though one or two others 'felt the presence of something'.
This was not the first occasion that a ghostly knight has been seen in the Great Hall but it has been some years since anyone has stated categorically they they have witnessed it. Howard was convinced that the youngster could see the apparition, gazing as he had been for some seconds into a blank corner of the huge room. Up to that time the subject of ghosts had not been mentioned, thus dismissing possible sceptical comments of 'imagination'.
The description given later by the boy certainly matched that of the phantom believed for some time to haunt the Hall. One can only hope that this report will prompt others who have been reluctant up to now to divulge their experiences, to report any phenomena they may have seen in this, one of Britain's oldest buildings.