King Harold’s death cannot be marked in Waltham Abbey this year

We very much regret that we have decided we cannot have any kind of commemoration event in Waltham Abbey for King Harold II this year.

We had hoped at least to be able to have a simple flower placing on the King Harold Memorial tomorrow, 14th October, in conjunction with Waltham Abbey Historical Society.

After very careful consideration we believe it is not possible. We are a very small group and would not be able to ensure social distancing in the Churchyard around the Memorial. We do not have resources for barriers or ground markings, or marshals, and have no idea how many people might turn up.

We hope next year our lives will have returned to something more like normality and we will again be able to mark the anniversary of the death of the last crowned Anglo Saxon King.

This, of course, does not stop any individual person from putting flowers on the Memorial provided Covid 19 restrictions are observed.

Happy New Year

A very happy New Year to all our readers.   May 2019 be another year where we all help spread the word about our King Harold, the last Anglo Saxon King of England  –  frequently so sadly overlooked by those who seem to think English history began after October 1066.

Published in: on January 1, 2019 at 4:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

Tomorrow is the King Harold Commemoration at Waltham Abbey

We shall be holding our special Commemoration event tomorrow, 13 October, in and around the Abbey Churchyard at Waltham Abbey.  The event is held to remember  the last Anglo Saxon King of England, Harold II, who lost his life at the  Battle of Senlac Hill on 14 October 1066.

This year we shall have two performances of a specially-written play, The Falcon’s Flight, about King Harold’s daughter Gytha.   The English Companions will be with us and will recite a poem in Old English.   The Chingford Morris, who have supported King Harold Day for its 14 years of existence, will dance.

There will be a Music Recital in the Abbey Church, two guided tours of the Church, and in the afternoon the Tower will be open allowing wonderful views over the town and out towards Epping Forest.   (There will be a small charge for Church funds)

And finally, our Junior King Harold  –  Matthew  –  will be present.

At Noon the Commemoration Ceremony will take place at the King Harold Memorial in the Churchyard.   We shall be joined by the Chairman of Epping Forest District Council, Cllr Richard Bassett and Mrs Bassett, the Mayor of Waltham Abbey, Cllr Jeane Lea, and from the Abbey Church  –  The Rector, The Rev’d Peter Smith, The Rev’d Canon Joyce Smith and The Rev’d Alexandra Guest.

We and our guests will place flowers on the King Harold Memorial.

Do come and join us.   Admission to the event is free, but donations made on the day towards its expenses would be much appreciated.



2016 – 950th Anniversary of The Year of King Harold

Today is the 951st anniversary of the Coronation at Westminster Abbey of King Harold II, the Lord of the Manor of Waltham and founder of what became the Great Abbey. 

It marks the end of our Year of King Harold at Waltham Abbey when we celebrated the 950th anniversary of the important 1066 dates. We began with Compline for a Coronation in the Abbey on the 6 January 2016. During the year we went on to have a major exhibition at the Museum on King Harold II, his Life and Legacy. We welcomed English Heritage’s 1066 March to the town when armoured horsemen rode at some speed through gridlocked traffic to the Abbey and we then re-enacted King Harold praying at the Holy Cross of Waltham before continuing his journey to Hastings. Then we had the 2016 King Harold Day. This was followed by a Day Conference held at the Town Hall, and organized by the Museum, which attracted renowned speakers on King Harold, the Bayeux Tapestry and the 1066 story. Finally there was a talk on King Harold at the Museum. 

Many thanks to all those who helped to arrange the programme of events, who took part or who watched as it all took place.

We believe we have done the anniversary proud and that Waltham Abbey has lived up to its name as “King Harold’s Town”. We will continue to protect and promote the last Anglo Saxon King of England and the rich history of Waltham Abbey.





Compline for a Coronation

The first event of our KH 950 celebrations at Waltham Abbey is on Wednesday 6th January Medieval monks in Abbeywhen we shall mark King Harold’s coronation with a service of Compline in the Abbey Church at 5.00 pm.

Waltham, like the other monastic houses, would have kept the canonical hours, the eight divine offices each day, with the last one being Compline just before retiring to bed.

This daily pattern would be well known not just to the canons but to King Harold and his court, who would regularly have been at the church for Compline.

It is fitting then that we commemorate Harold’s coronation which took place at Edward the Confessor’s new West Minster Abbey by holding this service of Compline at Waltham Abbey, Harold’s own monastic foundation.

All are welcome at this service, especially those who are interested in King Harold II, in his great monastic foundation at Waltham, and in the story of the last Anglo Saxon King of England.

Wednesday 6th January 2016

5.00 pm    Service of Compline 

The Abbey Church, Waltham Abbey, Essex, EN9 1DG. 


Published in: on January 3, 2016 at 3:52 am  Comments (2)  
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KH 950

2016 is a hugely important year for us in Waltham Abbey.   It’s the 950th Anniversary of all the important King Harold dates.

KH 950 Logo (lower version) kite shield0002 (2)

Many thanks to Isabelle Perrichon for creating the KH 950 logo.

Published in: on January 2, 2016 at 5:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Sir Anthony Denny Bt

A death notice in today’s issue of The Times caught my eye  –  Denny.

If you have visited the glorious Abbey at Waltham Abbey you won’t have missed the great Denny tomb and monument in the side aisle next to the stairs to the Lady Chapel.   The tomb is of Sir Edward Denny, and shows him and his wife and their seven sons and three daughters.   It commemorates the family who became the owners of the Abbey site at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries.

The town has a rich Tudor history, being visited many times by King Henry VIII who favoured the Abbey of Waltham.   Waltham was the last of the Abbeys to be dissolved.   King Henry leased the demesne lands of the monastery to his friend and favourite, Sir Anthony Denny, in April 1541, and he was made keeper of the site in January 1542.   It was purchased outright by his widow in 1549.   Sir Anthony used the stone from the demolished monastic buildings to construct the splendid Abbey House, itself later demolished, but remains of it can be seen in the Abbey Gardens.

Sir Anthony was the father of the Sir Edward whose monument is in the Abbey Church.   Sir Anthony was a confidant of Henry VIII, the most prominent member of the Privy Chamber, Keeper of Westminster Palace, Groom of the Stool, and had charge of the “dry stamp” of the King’s signature.   Denny attended Henry on his deathbed, helping to finalize his will.   He had to tell Henry of his coming death, and advised the King “to prepare for his final agony”.

The Dennys continued to be an important family in Tudor times, and the baronetcy has passed down the years.   The death notice I saw today was for Sir Anthony Denny  –  (so a family name still in use)  –  who died peacefully on 13th September 2013, aged 88, at his home in Somerset.   His full name was Sir Anthony Coningham de Waltham Denny and he was the 8th Baronet.   He is succeeded as the 9th Baronet by his son, Sir Piers Anthony de Waltham Denny.

I met Sir Anthony when he came to Waltham Abbey for the 950th Anniversary celebrations of the consecration of King Harold’s Church.  He was a Patron of the Abbey Church and knew a great deal about its architecture, his own profession.

How interesting that both Sir Anthony and Sir Piers have “de Waltham” as part of their name.   Interesting also that Sir Anthony died last Friday, the 13th, when we were commemorating the bringing of the Holy Cross to Waltham in 1035 by performing a play of the Legend.   And from that Legend and from the Holy Cross came Harold’s Church, and then the Great Abbey, and then the dissolution of the Abbey leading to the Denny family coming to the town.

Harold and William in animation

An animation of the Bayeux Tapestry, yes really!   Many thanks to our Committee Member, Tony O’Connor, for finding it and passing it on to us.

It has been about since 2009 apparently, but we have only just heard of it.       

The Animated Bayeux Tapestry was created as a student project while at Goldsmiths College.    Just as the historic original embroidery does, the animation depicts the lead up to the Norman Invasion of England in 1066.   It starts about halfway through the original work at the appearance of Halley’s Comet and ends at William’s victory at the Battle of Hastings.   Marc Sylvan redid the soundtrack to include original music and sound effects.

Here’s the link to the video.

Animation by David Newton;                  Music and sound design by Marc Sylvan.

Harald Hardrada’s descendant is coming to Stamford Bridge

We have established strong links with the Battle of Stamford Bridge Society, (BOSBS), and indeed their Chris Rock came down to King Harold Day last October.   Our photo shows the Battle of Stamford Bridge stall at King Harold Day 2012.

That battle, of course, took place on 25 September 1066, when King Harold II of England KHD2012- (154)and his army defeated the army of King Harald Hardrada of Norway.

Now we learn that the BOSBS have a bit of a coup themselves this month as a descendant of King Harald Hardrada will be guest speaker at one of their meetings.   This is what they say about it:-

A REAL Viking comes to Stamford Bridge 

Yes we are happy to have as guest speaker on 21st February 2013, a living descendant of King Harald Sigurdsson (Hardrada), Jarl Gunnar Olafsson.   On Gunnar’s Facebook page he explains how in Iceland the family name traces the heritage of when and where they originate from; one tradition they still hold on to dearly, unlike other countries.   The Icelandic groups are new to the re-enactment scene, although they do have lots of societies and history groups, but as far as putting on public shows it’s all new territory for them;  in fact the head of the Vikings’ York group, the Volsung Vikings, recently went to Iceland to show them how to act and fight like a Viking….bizarre! 

Just hope Gunnar has forgiven us for the death of his great ancestor here in 1066.”



King Harold is Crowned

Yesterday, 5 January, was the anniversary of the death of the long-reigning Harold's Coronation (2)King, Edward the Confessor.   His new Abbey at Westminster, although not completely finished, was sufficiently ready to be used for his funeral.

Today, 6 January, is the anniversary of the Coronation of his successor, King Harold II, the last Anglo Saxon King of England.   Formerly Earl of East Anglia and Earl of Wessex, Harold Godwinesson was crowned in Westminster Abbey.