Rain cancels Battle of Hastings re-enactment

image captionMembers of historical re-enactment groups gathered on Saturday at Battle Abbey to mark the anniversary of the Battle of Hastings

A re-enactment of the Battle of Hastings on what is believed to be the original battlefield has been cancelled because of torrential rain.

English Heritage said for safety reasons the event could not go ahead because of unacceptable levels of mud on the battlefield and public areas.

Sunday's re-enactment marked the 946th anniversary of the battle when William the Conqueror defeated King Harold.

Hastings Borough Council said the cancellation was a disappointment.

"It is understandable but it is a real shame because the organisers put a lot of time and money into organising and advertising it," said spokesman Kevin Boorman.

Unexpected rain

The Battle of Hastings is re-fought every year over two days to mark the anniversary on 14 October of the 1066 victory of William, Duke of Normandy which changed English history.

English Heritage said although the forecast was for fair weather over the weekend, unexpected torrential rain over several hours on Saturday forced it to cancel Sunday's performance.

Saturday's went ahead as planned.

It said Battle Abbey and the battlefield site remained open and pre-booked tickets would also be refunded.

Since the 900th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings in 1966, Hastings Borough Council has held a week-long festival of events culminating in the re-enactment weekend.

Other events planned in the town centre on Saturday, including the 60th National Town Criers' Championship and torchlit procession and bonfire, also went ahead.

Mr Boorman said rain delayed the start of the town criers' contest by 30 minutes but 26 contestants braved the conditions.

It was won by town crier Mark Wylie, from Calne in Wiltshire.

The downpours eventually stopped about 17:30 BST in time for the procession and firework display, but only about 20,000 visitors attended compared with as many as 40,000 in previous years.

"The forecast wasn't too good and about 17:00 it was absolutely throwing it down," said Mr Boorman.

"But we had one of the best fireworks displays we have ever had."

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