THE TOWN OF BATTEL
Eagle-eyed visitors to bonfire night will spot that the banners carried at the front of the procession say “Battel Bonfire Boyes.”
It is often asked why it is Battel and not the “correct” spelling – Battle.
The simple answer is that the town was once called Battel, and this was in use until the early 19th century.
Quite when it changed from Battel to Battle, no one seems to know. And it appears that there was some cross over for a fair few years (I am sure we are all guilty of calling a shop by its old name!)
A map produced for Sir Godfrey Webster in 1811 has the label “to Battel” on it; however, the 1813 Ordnance survey map of the area, while preserving many old spellings such as “Bodyham” for Bodiam, uses “Battle” for the town.
The gravestone of Dean Thomas Birch, which can be found in the grounds of St Peters church in Old Town Bexhill, is inscribed “late Dean of Battel” and his date of death was February 25th 1840.
So has it always been Battel Bonfire Boyes?
Technically no. Indeed, the early 20th century saw the name Battle Bonfire Boys being used, but with a little artistic license, the society changed it back to Battel Bonfire Boyes at some point in the 70’s, and it has stuck.