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Battle Town Council

Twinning Association

Battle Twinning Association

Battle twinned with St. Valery-sur-Somme

In 1966 leading up to the celebrations for the 900th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, St Valery-sur-Somme approached Battle with the proposal of making a link between our two towns.

It was from St Valery-sur-Somme that William left France in September 1066 to contest the crown of England with Harold. They met around Senlac Hill and the Normans defeated the Saxons, later creating the Abbey.

In September 1966 a small group of residents led by the Chairman of Battle and District Council visited St Valery-sur-Somme to attend a grand ceremony where a monument was unveiled, commemorating the departure of William for the conquest of England. The group returned to Battle with the first Twinning documents, and so began the long and strong friendship that has existed between us ever since.

St Valery-sur-Somme is a town of about 3,000 inhabitants, situated on the southern banks of the Bay of the Somme in the region of Picardy. Its history dates from the seventh century when its patron, St Valery, settled there and later an abbey was built. Over the ages a walled medieval town grew. It is now beautifully restored with ramparts, fortified gateways, beamed houses and stunning views from its heights over the Bay.

Its main activity was as a port for salt and fishing. During the first World Ward it was used as a port to supply the frontline further east along the river Somme. Today the lanes of the town are lined with flowers at the base of old stone walls and it is a popular destination for water sports, bird watching and seal spotting.

In the early years of our twinning there were many exchanges between the two High Schools, with students staying in each other’s homes, attending classes together and visiting surrounding sites. Regular visits between residents started in 1978, and this has grown strongly ever since.

We have taken part in each other’s Fete Guillaume and Bonfire night. We have arranged photo displays in our tourist offices, and mounted exhibitions of textiles. We have also sold homemade English marmalade, Christmas puddings, cakes and decorations at St Valery-sur-Somme’s Christmas markets.

A choir from St Valery-sur-Somme has twice given concerts in Battle. Based on our long term link both towns have benefitted from European funding for local projects, such as transforming the car park in front of the Abbey into an open space for all to enjoy.

Our Battle Twinning Association arranges a programme of events with a French theme throughout the year, as well as visiting each other to stay in our homes, getting to know and understand our respective cultures and enjoying good company.

50 YEARS OF TWINNING

In 2016 our two towns celebrated this special Anniversary of our long and strong friendship between local residents.

Much preparation was made by individual members of Battle Twinning Association to commemorate and co-ordinate our events with the 950th Anniversary of the Battle of Hastings.

The St.Valery sign in St Mary's Churchyard was restored and beautifully re-painted. A Twinning banner and commemorative cushions were designed and embroidered for the same church. A garden of golden roses and yellow perennial flowers was planted in the Almonry Gardens, with an engraved plaque of our 50 years of Twinning. A photographic exhibition of our history and activities was mounted in Battle Library for the month of October.

The first highlight of the year was a visit to St.Valery by Battle members for a weekend of superb events. We were welcomed at the Hotel de Ville by the Mayor and our hosts, where we presented 5 golden rose bushes to the town. The next day we had a fascinating guided tour of the medieval town with its flower strewn lanes and wonderful views over the Bay of the Somme. We enjoyed a delicious lunch at a famous restaurant and later visited local museums of country life and the environment. The evening was celebrated with dinner on the steam train that toured the bay while we were serenaded by local musicians. Our last day saw us visiting the weekly market and sampling more superb cuisine in friend's homes and gardens.

The second special event of the year was the weekend of 14th October to coincide with the commemoration of the Battle of Hastings. A large group arrived from St.Valery to be hosted by Battle members. The events of 14th were enjoyed by all together, visiting our photographic exhibition, making stitches on the Community Battle Tapestry, attending the magnificent church service with visiting dignitaries as well as Norman and Saxon re-enactors, then enjoying the Band Concert by the Royal Engineers on the Green.

Our guests were taken on a guided tour the next day. This was led by local historians visiting secret gardens and architecture of Battle. They sampled a typical pub lunch, then spent the afternoon in Battle Abbey seeing the grand re-enactment and the campments and displays. On the last day of the visit we had a grand luncheon to celebrate our Anniversary, after which we waved goodbye to our friends until our next meeting.