BATTLE is as self-contained, charming and spirited as any market town in England might have been before the 20th century came along to ruin it. Its most famous asset is the remains of Battle Abbey, on the site of King Harold’s defeat by William the Conqueror in 1066. A spectacular bonfire is lit on the playing fields on Guy Fawkes Night, big enough to rival the one in Lewes. The town otherwise has a High Street full of shops and inns, some of them timber-framed or weatherboarded, and there are some nice old tea rooms for connoisseurs of the sticky bun. A farmers’ market is held once a month. A first-time buyer could find a two-bedroom period cottage in need of renovation for just under £150,000. Three-bedroom semis come at £235,000; four-bedroom detached houses at £350,000 to £400,000. A six-bedroom period town house close to the High Street could cost up to £1.3m.
In the lanes around Battle are some rather grand houses in the £500,000 to £1m range. A converted oast with twin roundels and seven bedrooms would be likely to fetch in excess of £1.25m. Of the neighbouring villages, Sedlescombe is particularly pretty with a traditional village green fringed with brick and tile-hung cottages. It has a post office, tea room, pub, hotel, restaurant, good primary school and societies on every night of the week. Villagers have built a modern village hall. Catsfield and Ninfield are so popular that most of the house moves involve people already living there. Social trends have been reversed here because a new shop and a new pub opened in the last few years. For rural tranquillity there is Penhurst, a picturesque hamlet in deep Sussex countryside. Prices in all the villages are roughly similar to those in Battle itself.