The Great Gatehouse
The imposing size and elaborate decoration of the great gatehouse reflected the power and importance of Battle Abbey.
This was the main entrance for visitors, as well as for merchants, traders and abbey staff bringing produce from the abbey's own estates. The building led directly into the outer court of the abbey where once stood the barns, storehouses and workshops needed by the monastic community.
The gatehouse was started at the beginning of the Hundred Years' War, in 1338, and was capable of being lightly defended. Inside, it had two sets of lodgings for abbey officials or important visitors, with a further set on the first floor of the west wing above the porter's accommodation. The first floor lodgings are now a museum.
Substantial traces of an earlier, 11th and 12th-century gatehouse, survive in the range in front of you, to the left of the entrance. They suggest that the original gateway lay a little to the west of the present entrance.
( photo captions )
- Battle Abbey gatehouse in 1792. A watercolour by Michael Angelo Rooker (1746 - 1801).
- The gatehouse (left) in about 1737. Detail from a print by Samuel and Nathan Buck.