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The 1066 March comes to Waltham Abbey - 6th October 5pm

Author: Tricia Gurnett, KH950 Partnership Published: 5th October 2016 21:03
The 1066 March for 950th anniversary
Step into England's History 

We are told the one date in English history that most people know is 1066.

This year - 2016 - is the 950th anniversary of all that happened in 1066, the year of three kings.

As part of the commemoration of that year, English Heritage is running “The 1066 March” in which a number of horsemen and foot soldiers are re-creating the hurried march made by King Harold II and his close followers after the Battle of Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire on 25 September 1066.   News had reached Harold that Duke William of Normandy had landed in Sussex, and intended to take over the throne of England.  The King must make haste to Sussex to stop him.

And here’s where Waltham Abbey enters the story. On his way south, King Harold stopped off at Waltham in order to pray for victory at the miraculous Holy Cross of Waltham in his Minster Church at Waltham Abbey, which he had founded and continued to endow.

He entered the Church, knelt at the Holy Cross and prayed.   As he did so legend has it that the figure on the crucifix bowed its head. This was taken as a bad omen for the coming battle, which sadly proved right.

Exciting that The 1066 March is coming to Waltham and they will reach the town in the late afternoon of Thursday 6th October coming from the Fishers Green Car Park along Crooked Mile and then entering the Abbey Gardens, Waltham Abbey, Essex, EN9 1XQ.  

The marchers will cross the gardens to the Abbey Gateway, where they will be welcomed by onlookers, and greeted by the Rector of Waltham Abbey, The Rev’d Peter Smith, in the way that the senior Canon of the Minster would have welcomed the King.

The marchers are scheduled to arrive at the Gateway at 5.00 pm, but traffic conditions at that time of day, and the fact that horses will be on public roads, may mean that the arrival is slightly earlier or later.

The marchers will then dismount and with the onlookers will move to the rear of the Church, the east side, to a spot roughly where the high altar of Harold’s Church would have been.  The black Holy Cross will have been set up there, and “King Harold” will pray at it.  

This will be followed by a reading from the ancient “Waltham Chronicle” of the description of what happened on that day. The Rector will then speak.

Should the weather be bad, everything after the welcome at the Gateway will take place in the Abbey Church.

We at Waltham Abbey’s #KH950 Partnership invite people from the town, and from further afield, to be at the Abbey Gateway just before 5.00 pm on Thursday 6 October to welcome the marchers and take part in the commemoration.  

Spectators should be at either side of the Gateway, that is within the Abbey Gardens or outside the Gateway just before the bridge.

Anyone who has a medieval costume is encouraged to wear it, as it will greatly add to the atmosphere of the occasion.


The 1066 March left Clifford’s Tower, York, at 5pm on Sunday 25 September and will reach Battle Abbey, the site of the so-called Battle of Hastings, on Friday 14th October, the date of the battle.

The afternoon section of the March on 6 October will be from Stanstead Abbotts to Waltham Abbey, and much of it will be within the Lee Valley Park.

King Harold II had founded the Minster Church at Waltham (at the time he was Earl of Wessex) in thanksgiving for having been cured of paralysis when he prayed at the miraculous Holy Cross of Waltham.   The Minster was consecrated in 1060 in the presence of King Edward the Confessor.

Harold had endowed it richly with holy relics, jewels and gold, and with land and property to provide an income for the Canons he had appointed to it.   He continued to give it rich gifts, including on that day when he came to pray before the battle.

Although there is no written evidence at the actual time, it is recorded in the Waltham Chronicle some years later that Turkill, the Sacristan of the Church, said that he witnessed Harold praying and he saw the figure on the crucifix bow its head.

The marchers will stay overnight in Waltham Abbey, and will leave on the morning of Friday 7th October, on foot to march to Hyde Park, London.

For more information on his epic journey please see English Heritage’s website for The 1066 March:  

The 950th Anniversary celebrations don't stop there in Waltham Abbey as we have the wonderful annual King Harold Day Festival on Sat 8th October and Epping Forest Museum have an interesting exhbition on the Life, Legend and Legacy of England's Last Anglo Saxon King too!

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Jeff & Kate Towerzey
At 13:18 on 6th October 2016, Jeff & Kate Towerzey responded:
Don't miss The 1066 March on Thurs 6 October due at 5pm in the Abbey Gardens. Recommend arriving early to get a good view as because they may arrive a little earlier or later than the scheduled time. Follow on Twitter #Battle1066 for updates

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