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Battle Gunpowder Run

We had a great time yesterday (23rd February) even though the weather wasn't fully on our side.

Battle Attack 5K Rescheduled

Unfortunately due to Storm Dennis last weekend St Michael's Hospice Battle Attack 5K was postponed, but there ...

Battle's Christmas Festivities

On Saturday 30th November, Battle rang in the beginning of the Christmas festivities, with Santa riding down t...

Battle Christmas Lights Switch On

The festive period is upon us with just 6 weeks left before the big day. We are looking forward to lighting up...

Battle Road Closure to Remember The Fallen

Due to the parade on Sunday the High Street will be shut between 10am and 1pm, disruptions maybe likely betwee...

Battle is Getting it's Own Radio Station

Battle FM are bringing Battle its very own radio station for the re-enactment weekend in 2019.

What Can I Expect from a Toastmasters Meeting?

Battle speakers meetings are centred around active participation in a friendly supportive atmosphere. Meeting ...

Company recovers from brink of collapse to win national award

There are few corporate stories more staggering than that of Sussex Beds. The high street business was, just ...

Concorde 1066

What is happening on the day that commemorates the bloody event of Friday 14th October 1066

Hastings Day!

Inline with Hastings Week. What is happening in Battle to celebrate?

Jempson's Battle Cafe' Re-opens

Local independent family owned company Jempson's has re-opened the doors of its Café opposite Battle Abbey fol...

Smartphones are changing the way we are eating.

Until recently using a phone at the dinner table was frowned upon.

Cut & Grill Christmas Party Menu Now Here!

Cut & Grill's Christmas party menu is now out so book your seat quickly

Hottest September day in 55 years possible

Britain is likely to see the highest September temperature for more than 50 years according to the Met Office....

New!! 50 things to do before your 11 3/4

National Trust has released a list of things to do before you turn 11 3/4

Promoting your Business and Lifestyle Financial Planning through Social Media.

Promotion. Marketing. Public Relations. These words don't always resonate with small businesses

Got your A-level results today? Nando's is giving away free chicken!

What better way to mark your A-level results than with free chicken?

Is hosting the Olympics worth it?

The 2016 Rio Olympic Games kicked off at the beginning of the month (5th August)

Eastbourne Annual Event is well under way

Tourism Event of the Year 2015/16 at the Beautiful South Awards, Highly Commended in the 2016 VisitEngland Awa...

He has done us proud with his Bronze

Local man in Battle is shooting for gold in Rio Olympics

Enter into the world's highest tower

Journey up Brighton's i360 thin tower

New Cellars Opening Soon!

New Cellars Opening Soon!

Opening Tonight!!!!

Out with the old and in with the new!

Clare Balding Launches #WeAreBetterWithPets

Would you like to make the world a better place for people and pets?

Army of scarecrows come to Battle to commemorate 1066

With the annual Scarecrow Festival well underway, can you spot the numerous Normans, Saxons, and monks hidden ...

The Average Brit Spends A YEAR or their Live... Waiting

Long-suffering Brits spend over a YEAR of their life waiting for things, according to new research.

Real Life Brienne of Tarth Competes in Jousting Tournament

This is the dramatic moment a woman competed against men for the first time ever in a JOUSTING tournament – an...

Former Police Driver Ordered To Retake Test After DVLA Loses His License

A grandfather and former police driver with almost 40 years experience behind the wheel has been ordered to re...

3 BILLION Spent on Replacing Broken Gadgets in the Last 5 Years

A staggering 3.1 BILLION has been spent on fixing or replacing broken gadgets in the last five years, a new UK...

Brits Work 38 Working Days A Year Above Their Paid Contract

British employees work an average of 38 WORKING DAYS above their paid contract every year, according to a new ...

We will Lose Over 3,000 ITEMS in our Lifetime

The average person loses more than 3,000 items in their lifetime – including 192 items of clothing and 64 umbr...

Disabled Man Sails Halfway Around The World Single-handedly

A disabled man has become the first to sail halfway around the world – literally SINGLE HANDED.

Largest Diamond Discovered In More Than 100 Years On Display

The largest diamond discovered in more than a century went on display in London on Tuesday 14th June 2016 ahea...

Brits Spend The Most But Do The Least On Holiday

A unique survey looking at the habits and preferences of 5,000 parents across the UK, France, Germany, Italy a...

Dads in Half as Many Photos as Mums

This Father’s Day, PhotoBox puts Dad back in the frame with first ever photo studio run by children

Rescued Magpie Becomes Best Friends With Shop Owner

A man has become best friends with a magpie after rescuing the garden bird from the clutches of a cat at just ...

International Working Animals Day

TV star Paul O’Grady wants working animals to get the compassion they deserve

Celebrate Pestalozzi's Success at their International Celebration Day!

On Saturday 9th March, Pestalozzi International Childrens Village are once again opening their doors for a fab...

Award winning Opera comes to 1066 country

The White Rock Theatre in Hastings is set to showcase the award winning grand opera of belarus' production of ...

Celtic Dream is the true gem of the Emerald Isle!

The Celtic Dream show is coming to WHITE ROCK on sat Feb 11th!

1066 Relay back for 2012

Sunday 6th May 2012 will see the second staging of the 1066 Relay, with circa 60 teams of runners from all ove...

Claverham Community College Christmas Market

Claverham Community College Christmas Market - always well attended with lots of varying stalls.

Rehoming with Brown Bread Horse Rescue

Brownbread Horse Rescue has always run two very successful schemes in tandem to help people either with a hors...

The 1066 Country walk

For the first time the historic 32 mile Walk is broken down into 6 separate stages going from Pevensey in East...

Cycle Path to link Bexhill and Hastings

Cycle path linking Bexhill-on-sea and Hastings.

1-million Lido Scheme for West St.Leonards

1-million Lido Scheme has been announced to revitalise the West St.Leonards area.

Celebrate 150 years of Firefighting in Hastings!

In 1861, the first Hastings Volunteer Fire Brigade was formed. 150 years, and several names later, Firefighte...

Skinners Sheds - Property takeover

Skinners Sheds, has taken over the former Hygrade Food Factory on the A269 Bexhill Road, at Ninfield. ...

Police WARNING over dangers of poached meat.

Restaurants, hotels, pubs and the public are being advised not to purchase illegally killed game,

Brownbread Horse Rescue charity

Lord Brett MacLean, opened the day and stayed on to chat with visitors and later judge some of the dog show cl...

Flog It! comes to Bexhill

On Wednesday 24th August 2011. The De La Warr Pavilion will be hosting the Flog It Valuation Day.

Brittle support from Hastings Pier owners

Ravensclaw, the owners of Hastings pier, have been issued with an urgent works notice.

Youth Cabinet highlight transport and environment issues

East Sussex Youth Cabinet have pinpointed certain issues that need targeting

Day tickets now available for Big Green Festival

Organisers of 1066 Country's newest festival, The Big Green Cardigan, have now made day tickets available to p...

Beautiful Battle: Diamond Jubilee Garden Update

Beautiful Battle vice-chair, Margaret Emeleus, gives an update on the group's work on the Diamond Jubilee Gard...

Battle Art Fair could be a 'vintage year'

Organisers of the Battle Air Fair anticipate 2011 to be the finest year and set a standard for the future....

Nobles Restaurant scoops Arrow FM 'Restaurant of the Year'

Highly acclaimed Battle diner, Nobles Restaurant, picks up yet more accolades and recognition.

And the 'Design a Deckchair' competition winners are...

Hastings Borough Council have narrowed down over 1000 entries to just 20 winners for the Design a Deckchair co...

The Boat Project sets sail in Bexhill

Pop down to the De La Warr Pavilion this weekend and donate your old wood to a unique London 2012 Olympics pro...

Inspire Mark for Active Hastings

Olympic legend Seb Coe congratulates Active Hastings for securing the London 2012 Olympic Inspire Mark....

Design a badge for Pestalozzi

Pestalozzi are inviting those of all ages to design a new badge for 2012.

Do you have the best business in Sussex?

This year sees the 23rd Sussex Business Awards and eleven highly acclaimed awards to pick up.

Battle Memorial Hall Film Club: Limitless

This month Battle Memorial Hall Cinema Club features 'Limitless', starring Robert De Niro.

Work starts to 'Turn Battle Upside Down'

Local students create striking pieces for major visual art project

Schools close over public sector pension strikes

More than 300 schools, including two in Battle, closed in Sussex yesterday due to strikes over proposed change...

New primary school opens in Hurst Green

Hurst Green officially opens their new environmentally sustainable primary school.

Young competition in Battle Art Fair

Two Battle Abbey pupils have been invited to exhibit their work at the second Battle Contemporary Fine Art Fai...

Battle Abbey textile pupils are sew good

Two battle Abbey pupils will line up in the finals of the Young Fashion Designer Competition.

From Glastonbury to Battle

American singer-songwriter, Melanie, brings the mud of Glastonbury and her Summer of '71 tour to Battle....

Battle Memorial Hall Film Club: Another Year

This month Battle Memorial Hall Cinema Club features Mike Leigh's 2010 drama 'Another Year'

Fat Face opens in Battle

A positive step for business in 1066 Country as Battle welcomes a big brand to the High Street.

Harrison wins East Sussex Children's Book Award

School pupils from Battle, Bexhill and St Leonards attended the East Sussex Children's Book Awards.

Barraclough & Stiles launch new website

Customers and clients now have access to a number of new features on the local optician's website.

1066 Business Awards

Celebrate the success and accomplishments of companies and business people, throughout 1066 Country, at this y...

Battle Light Opera Group present: ‘The Gondoliers’

Penned in for 10th, 11th and 12th November, Gilbert & Sullivan's 'The Gondoliers' is BLOG's winter operett...

New homes proposed from Rother’s Core Strategy

Plans for between 3700 and 4100 homes have been outlined in Rother District Council's Core Strategy.

Big Green Cardigan covers Black Horse

In the wake of the highly acclaimed Black Horse Festival rides The Big Green Cardigan.

Teall's celebrate 2 year anniversary

Battle greengrocers, Teall's Fruit & Veg, are still going strong after two years of business in the High S...

Battle Mediaeval Fayre

The bunting is up; the maypole is erect; the chainmail is on; the hog has been skewered...

Duke of Edinburgh Gold for Battle Abbey pupil

Battle Abbey pupil, Nick Taylor, has been awarded the school's first ever Duke of Edinburgh Gold award....

Full scholarship for Battle Abbey performing artist

A Battle Abbey School performing artist has been granted a full scholarship at the prestigious Guildford Schoo...

Battle Abbey pupil to go to St. Martins

A budding young textile artist from Battle Abbey School has been given an unconditional offer to complete her ...

Successful prosecution of care home rat infestation

Owners of 'The Firs' care home, in Crowhurst, has been fined more than £ 24,000 after an environmental health ...

1066 Country set to welcome Olympic torch

Get your diaries out and boldly pen in 'Olympic Torch in Hastings' on July 17 next year.

Hastings Runners praised by Relay good 1066 race

Teams from all over the South East, as well as overseas, competed in the 33 mile inaugural 1066 Relay....

Battle Abbey school appoint new Head of Prep

Battle Abbey school have announced their new Head of the Prep school, starting in the 2011-2012 academic year....

AV Referendum and Local Election Results

The local election and AV referendum votes, from across Rother and Wealden, are in and have been counted and v...

Forty teams raring for 1066 Relay this Sunday

With less than three days until starting orders, the line up for the inaugural 1066 Relay is a promising forty...

Rother and Weladen take to the polls

Polling stations throughout Rother and Wealden will be open for electors to vote district council candidates i...

Business Feature: Battle Mowers

Support local traders and businesses by shopping in your High Street.

Don't lose your Marbles

Roll up! Roll up! It's the infamous Battle Marbles competition.

Rother changing to save £1.7 million

Rother District Council set 46 projects to make financial savings.

Sussex Marathon - a great success for Battle

With some great feedback, this year's competitors are already pumping for the 2012 Sussex Marathon.

Rother launches Food Hygiene Rating Scheme

Consumers can now see online which restaurants, cafes, pubs, hotels and takeaways are the most hygienic before...

County Council awarded extra pothole fund

The freezing weather throughout December last year subsequently caused some of the worst potholes in recent ye...

Bus Pass changes

Good news for those eligible for a bus pass - East Sussex County Council have taken over the issuing responsib...

Battle's Big Event Q&A

Discover Battle reporter, Rob McDonald, spoke to Chairman of Battle's Big Event, Margaret Leicester, to find o...

Hastings Day - the next National bank holiday?

Leader of Hastings Borough Council, Jeremy Birch, starts an ambitious battle to create a new bank holiday, kno...

A Yardy short of World Cup quarter-final

Following an unfortunate string of injuries, the England Cricket team has taken another set back as local hero...

Battle to host first Sussex Marathon

On Mother's Day 500 runners are expected to take part in the first ever Sussex Marathon, staged in Battle....

Keith Datchler & Beech Estate

Find out more about local revolutionary conservationist Keith Datchler OBE and over 40 years of work on Beech ...


Keith Datchler & Beech Estate

Find out more about local revolutionary conservationist Keith Datchler OBE and over 40 years of work on Beech Estate, Ashburnham.
12th May 11 6:02 pm
By Rob McDonald
Just when you thought you knew every secret nook and cranny of the Battle area, along comes Keith Datchler to reveal the wild and wonderful world of Beech Estate; a classified Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Hidden somewhere between Netherfield and Ashburnham, Beech Estate is a 772 hectare area of conservation that encompasses one of the largest surviving tracts of ancient meadow in the South East.

February marks Keith's 40th Anniversary of managing Beech Estate. Originally a town mouse, Keith was only a boy when his father made an escape to the country to pursue a quieter life as the village shopkeeper. Within days Keith had introduced himself to the farm opposite and set off on a route that would shape the rest of his life. Graduating from Plumpton College in 1966 with a National Certificate of Agriculture, Keith swiftly went on to fulfill many roles on a small dairy farm to gain valuable management knowledge and responsibilities. Soon after this he transferred his skills to Beech Farm and became the herdsman for 100 dairy cows. Within six months Keith was Manager of Beech Estate.

Through his tireless commitment to Beech Estate, Keith has established himself among the East Sussex farming fraternity as a pioneer of wildflower and wild grass seed collection.
Concerned over the future of Beech Estate, Keith woke up in the middle of the night to realise that mixed farming was something to forget. After quickly selling and letting out just about everything on the farm, a brave new enterprise, based on conservation and supplemented by income from renting properties and land on the estate, was put in to action.

Keith told Discover Battle that "the meadow is something we've done a lot of groundbreaking work on and was recognised 20 to 25 years ago - before it was fashionable. We saved them before these schemes were invented; we were already working to save meadows".
"The big thing we invented was a new system of making more meadows and utilising the existing ones. From everything you read you'll see that meadows are declining at a rate of knots so creating new meadows is our next big push really".
"Meadows lock up carbon, so as we move into carbon banking, meadows will have an increased financial value due to their negative carbon effect on habitats."

The premise was simple; they were trying to ensure the survival of the existing landscape, then create it elsewhere by ‘hay strewing' - scattering the hay from the flower rich meadows to spread the seed to other fields. The incentive for local farmers to participate and subsidise their land for wildlife comes from income under the government's Countryside Stewardship Schemes.

Only 3% of valuable ancient meadows remains in the UK but, as Keith pointed out, "they are ancient by design".
"You're not going to make anymore ancient meadows, so the point is to accept this and instead utilise existing meadows to make more; the fact you don't put ‘ancient' in front of it doesn't matter. If it doesn't matter then we should count all the new meadows towards biodiversity to see how much habitat we're recreating, which isn't happening; so that's our crusade."

This is essentially one of the objectives of the Weald Meadows Initiative; a project that aims to "ensure the long term survival of the irreplaceable species rich grassland of the Weald".
As a direct result of the Weald Meadows Initiative many meadows have been recognised, protected, enhanced or created within the High Weald, utilising native seed of a good local provenance.

Within the Beach Estate, Rocks Farm and Bunces Farm (the latter has won Keith a Heritage award) are the ‘donor sites' for the spread of vast amounts of local wild seed. Both had always been difficult to farm but after decades of agribusiness had passed long grasses began to grow on the poor soils. The result of such isolation was a meadow full of Orchids, Ox-eye Daisies, Quaking Grasses, Bird's Foot Trefoil and Knapweed. The fields had never been sprayed with fertiliser and none had drifted from nearby crops, so the seedbank of centuries had been preserved.
However, there are no protected Sites of Special Scientific Interest on the estate as, locally, the species are not rare enough. What makes it rare is its size: 110 acres of interconnected meadows are big enough to represent a complete ecosystem.
After just a couple of years the new meadows are full of life and act as the bottom of a thriving food chain that supports birds of prey including Hobby, Buzzard, Kestral and Sparrowhawk, while Barn Owls have returned after 20 years.

With the help of Beautiful Battle and the Town Council, Keith has used his innovative technique to create the Kingsmead wild meadow up on Caldbec Hill. His lasting legacy is that a growing number of farmers are adopting his techniques to conserve the ancient unspoilt landscape of the High Weald.

You'll be pleased to know that Keith's efforts have not gone unnoticed. Already a founder of the High Weald Landscape Trust and a member of the steering committee for the Weald Meadows Initiative, he was named as the first national winner of the Natural England's Future of Farming award. Nominated by Natural England staff with first hand knowledge of Beech Estate, Keith narrowly pipped 15 other regional finalists and succeeded in impressing a panel of judges from Natural England, the National Farmers' Union and the Country Land & Business Association. The Future of Farming award aims to give recognition to farmers and land managers who conserve and enhance the natural environment while simultaneously helping more people gain access to it.

As if that wasn't enough, by breaking new grounds Keith was awarded an OBE in the 2009 New Years Honour List for his influential services to conservation and environmental land management; an accolade he is "pretty chuffed" about.

As it stands 34 different species of Butterfly have been identified on Beech Estate (2010 was a brilliant year for Clouded Yellows and Painted Ladies) as well as a number of rare insects. Keith now has a specialist involved who, since the Autumn, has been conducting a mushroom survey to find out how many different types of fungi there are on the estate.

Public walks (in conjunction with DEFRA & NE), which run through some of the estate, are held through the summer months (May and June). As well as this, a Bee Exhibition that has been featured at Kew Gardens is coming to Beech Estate in the early summer.


Public Walks 2011

The Ancient Landscape of Ashburnham Meadows
7th May 10am; 20th May 6.30pm; 1st June 2.30pm; 4th June 10am.
Duration: 2.5 hours
Meet at: Rocks Farm (from Battle take the A271 for about 4km then C road to Ponts Green and Woods Corner. Take second right Lakehurst Lane to end of road marked ‘Private Beech Estate' continue up drive to assembly point; Map ref: TQ689174).
Leader: Keith Datchler

Walk through the ancient wildflower meadows and copses of Rocks and Bunces Farms - a secluded valley that has been managed traditionally for as long as anyone can remember. The farmland contains important remains of the post-medieval iron industry. One of six opportunities this season to visit this otherwise private valley. Can be muddy, bring sensible footwear and binoculars if you have them. Suitable for children 10 years old or over.

Orchids & Iron
21st May 10am; 10th June 6.30pm.
Duration: 2.5 hours
Meet at: Rocks Farm (see directions above).
Leader: Keith Datchler

A more leisurely look at the secluded valley taking time to spot the different orchids varieties and browse the remains of the post-medieval iron workings of two furnaces and their impact on the landscape. Can be muddy, bring sensible footwear and binoculars if you have them. Suitable for children 10 years old or over.

3rd June 10am
Duration: 2.5 hours
Meet at: Rocks Farm (see directions above).
Leader: Dawn Brickwood (Weald Meadows Initiative) & Keith Datchler
Charge/Donation: £5 to WMI (please book via 01424 774668 or

Discover the hidden gems of the Ashburnham Forge SNCI meadows, their history and the tips and techniques for managing, restoring and creating new bio-diverse meadows at both a small and landscape scale. Can be muddy, bring sensible footwear and binoculars if you have them. Suitable for children 10 years old or over.

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