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Set in Stone

Regulars | By Harry Mount | October 2016

Senlac Memorial Window

14th October marks the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings. Pictured is the Senlac Memorial Window, named after Senlac Hill, the site on which the battle was fought. The window is in the town of Battle, East Sussex, in the church of St Mary the Virgin, also built on Senlac Hill. The church was founded in 1115, fewer than fifty years after the battle.

On the left stands William the Conqueror in his all-enveloping Norman armour. On the right stands a more scantily dressed King Harold, brandishing an Anglo-Saxon axe. Behind them, the glass is decorated with scenes from the Bayeux Tapestry. Above the two windows, Halley’s Comet appears, as it did six months before the battle in 1066. In the bottom right of William’s window, Edward the Confessor sits in Westminster Palace. It was Edward’s death on 5th January 1066 that kicked off the events of that most fateful year. In the bottom middle scene in William’s window, King Harold and a companion enter the church of Bosham in West Sussex, praying for safe passage across the Channel. In the bottom left of Harold’s window, you can see the bloody Battle of Hastings, including the most famous scene of all – where Harold was killed with an arrow through the eye.

The window, designed by Michael Farrar Bell, was dedicated by the Bishop of Chichester on 14th October 1984. It was installed in memory of the English and Norman armies who fought in the most important battle in our history.

Harry Mount

This story was from October 2016 issue. Subscribe Now