David Clarke

Location: St Leonards on Sea, East Sussex
About me...

David lives in St Leonards on Sea, East Sussex and walks, talks and writes about walking, local history and all things 1066.

He considers his membership of CAMRA, The Inn Sign Society, The Ramblers and the Long Distance Walkers Association to be a perfect match for walking and is the author and creator of 1066 Harold’s Way, a 100 mile long distance walk inspired by King Harold’s epic march to the Battle of Hastings, 1066.

His book list includes 1066 The Saxon Times, 1066 Harold’s Way, Walking the High Weald and a series of Short Walks in 1066 Country details of which can be found on his website www.1066haroldsway.co.uk

About my Talks...

David is an experienced and anecdotal speaker who will bring the history, walks and talks to life, whether it is a school talk, club meeting or group event.


Talks will be tailored to meet your needs and fees, dates and presentation details will be discussed on enquiry.

My Contact Details:

01424 425 888


"We Should Have Won!"

An examination of the Battle of Hastings that sealed England’s fate and ended 600 years of Anglo-Saxon rule.

William, Duke of Normandy and his Council of War are delighted by the intelligence received from their spies.

There is a belief that in Harold’s haste, some of the army may have been left behind to recover from the long march from York and will follow on later.

By contrast, William’s army seem well rested in their long-established safe haven, at Hastings, and are ready for a fight. They had been dreading a long, drawn-out campaign and believe a swift engagement will be to their advantage.

This talk will try to make sense of a battle that lasted eight hours and identify the key moments that led to Norman success and the end of the Anglo-Saxon dynasty that began in the middle of the 5th century.

It will identify the most reasonable and strategic location, the tactics used and whether the battle should have been fought at all.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

1066 The Battles of Fulford Gate and Stamford Bridge

With King Harold is down on the South Coast, waiting for an expected invasion by Duke William of Normandy, the north lies unprotected and ripe for invasion by Harald Hardrada’s Vikings. Such riches, such wealth, such land there for the taking and if the Norwegians gets a foothold in England before William it will be much harder for the Duke to gain complete control over the Kingdom.

On September 9th the invasion fleet assembled at the River Tyne in Northumbria to sail down the coast to the Humber.

Any rumours of civilised Vikings are far from the truth it is revealed. It is as if the clock has been turned back nearly 300 hundred years as towns south along the Northumbrian coast are sacked and ravaged. Viking by name, Viking by nature as the old saying goes.

Battle lines are drawn, first at Fulford Gate and later at Stamford Bridge, battles that led to the death of Harald Hardrada and Tostig Godwinson and preceded the Battle of Hastings.

This talk reviews the battles and their unforeseen and devastating effect on the events of 1066.

1066 The Saxon Times - Food, drink and ‘agony aunts’

The Saxon Times allows for the free flow of imagination to express what life was like in 1066 for the ordinary man and woman. The newspaper format allows for advertisements and special editions such as Hailey’s Comet, Printing, The Food Section and Ask Brother Ealdred.

This talk is an interesting and amusing take on 1066, drawn from available historical resources.


From Duke William’s Feast on the night before the Battle of Hastings to food served throughout the year, The Saxon Times Food Section adds a little spice to 1066.

Norman Frumente, Cruste Rolles, Mounchelet, Steyks of Venyson and Bef, and Quayle Roasted were all served at that October dinner to William and his noble friends – the ordinary men would cook whatever they could find!

August’s recipe is to brew beer and although the monks of St Paul’s would brew the beer in great quantities, our recipe is suitable for your home brewer, the woman of the house

The recipes in The Saxon Times are the result of research from a variety of sources. They are meant to be a representative menu of the food served to Duke William of Normandy. No cooking times, temperatures, weights or measures are given on purpose.


Just a bit of fun, as if the common peasant could write, but ‘Ask Brother Ealdred’ is a reflection on the advice on herbal and natural remedies in the ‘Lacnunga’, that collection of miscellaneous Anglo-Saxon medical texts and prayers – although it is not meant to be a substitute for medical advice or diagnosis provided by your doctor or other medical professionals.

Explore and Discover Battle

The village of Battle did not exist before the battle.

So synonymous with the Battle of Hastings, Battle’s history dates from the strategic crossroads of ancient ridge roads at the sign of ‘The old hoar apple tree’. Later, an Abbey was built to commemorate the Battle and this historic town began to develop.

The Battle of Senlac or the Battle of Red Lake later became known as the Battle of Hastings. Today Caldbec Hill, Harold’s rendezvous point is crowned by a windmill, east of the A2100, on the road to Whatlington.

The town is still dominated by the massive Abbey gatehouse and there are many old buildings, dating back from the 13th century. St Mary’s was restored in 1869 but dates in part from the 14th and 15th centuries.

There is more to Battle than the battle and this talk will explore and discover the history of the town since its formation.

Explore and Discover Winchelsea

Winchelsea is an opportunity to imagine a life in a town whose Grand Design has little changed in over 700 years. There are three medieval gates that guard the approaches, the old Court Hall that once acted as the gaol and the seat of the Mayor’s power, and a great church that promised so much, its grandeur and wealth reflects the affluence and influence of the town in the 14th century.

The stunning Georgian houses that have their ancient founding roots in their medieval vaults trace a history back to the town’s wine trade and despite its difficult past, it has survived to capture a unique vision of King Edward I’s dream of a hilltop town.  It is a walk into history.

Winchelsea’s stagnation was arrested towards the middle of the 19th century with the new Town Well, the restoration of the Church of St Thomas and, when its decayed grandeur was discovered by artists and writers and Pre-Raphaelite Victorians.

Turner and Millais painted, Thackeray, Ford Maddox Ford and Joseph Conrad wrote, actress Ellen Terry came for the quiet life, Beatrix Potter, rented Haskards, Elgar stayed to play golf and HG Wells wrote a short story called Miss Winchelsea’s Heart. All attracted by the town’s grace.

In 1866, Dante Gabriel Rosetti said of the Mayor and Corporation’s procession it was “observed by a mob of one female child in the street and by us from the inn window”.

It is little different today.

A Walk around Rye

Proud Rye, sat on a hill and Queen of all she surveys. An island kingdom once surrounded by sea but the winds and the storms won a great battle and the sea retreated leaving the town marooned inland.

Rye, with its medieval airs and cobbled streets, its history as a Cinque Port, the smugglers and its people, has been written about and photographed to distraction, after all, it is one of the most picturesque towns in England

For centuries, Sussex’s poor roads had isolated Rye enabling it to remain unscathed from the developer’s whims that had changed many other south coast towns. By the time that the Turnpike roads arrived in the late 18th century and the railway in 1851, Rye’s charms within its citadel were secure and soon came to the attention of writers and artists seeking inspiration.

There are museums, remnants of fortifications, galleries, old houses, pubs and coffee shops, literary connections and tales of smuggled brandy, tea and tobacco.

This walk and talk will bring some sense to the orderly and disorderly streets, twitchels, passages and history but, be careful, for when not sailing the Spanish Main, that dastardly pirate Captain Pugwash may be watching you, home for a holiday to visit his creator, John Ryan.

1066 - King Harold's March from London

King Harold’s march from London is encapsulated in 1066 Harold’s Way, a 100mile long distance walk from Westminster Abbey to Battle Abbey inspired by King Harold II’ s epic journey to the Battle of Hastings. There can be no more emotive march.

The talk traces the route along the Roman road network still being used in 1066, from London to Rochester on Watling Street and then south through Maidstone, Staplehurst and Bodiam. It is a clear route through the daunting Forest of the Andreasweald past castles and battle sites with rivers, streams and valleys to cross, forests to forge and hills to climb and Roman roads, green lanes and ancient foot-paths to walk.

Three days of marching, the nights were drawing in, a camp at Rochester, maybe Bodiam too and a final night at Caldbec Hill.

There are few facts, just stories and legends and this engaging account of the King Harold’s march to Hastings will review why it all happened, the reasons for the Battle of Hastings, Harold’s Timeline to the Battle of Senlac Hill and, of course, walking 1066 Harold’s Way.

Three Castles and an Ironmaster's House

This talk is an engaging account of a walk between four National Trust properties; Bodiam Castle, Sissinghurst Castle, Scotney Castle and Bateman’s, that explores the history and the industrial past of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, in this part of Kent and East Sussex.

Three Castles is an opportunity to take the time to explore the castles and houses and towns and villages along the route. It follows man’s ingenuity and progress and a changing industry from agriculture to iron, to sheep, to the woollen trade, smuggling, hopfields and back to agriculture.

There is a soul to the High Weald; one that reflects the passions and industry of man and also the tensions of war and rebellion. It is now a very pastoral picture with only occasional reminders of the noise, smoke and fire of the iron industry. The ironmasters and the rich woollen trade are survived by their architecture at Sissinghurst, Cranbrook and Burwash and Brightling. The derelict hoppickers cottages, next to the River Teise in Lamberhurst, provide a startling contrast to the rich and landed.

And such a varied landscape brings together tales to tell of Mad Jack Fuller and Bloody Baker, Admiral ‘Foulweather Jack’ Norris, and Captain Swing. There are tales of smugglers and Mechanical riots, Napoleon’s horse, aliens in Robertsbridge and, of course, that ‘vengeful dragon’ in Angley Wood.

Three Castles and an Ironmaster’s House will take you on a picturesque and enjoyable tour of the High Weald – without getting mud on your boots.

1066 in 66 Minutes: The Saxon Times - A Newspaper’s Review of 1066

There is more to 1066 than the Battle of Hastings which, as every student knows, was fought on 14th October 1066 at Senlac Hill.

Primarily, it was the death of King Edward the Confessor that triggered the events that would have such a profound effect on England and The Saxon Times takes the opportunity to review the events of that tumultuous year through the eyes of The Saxon Times reporters.

The Saxon Times reports on the whole year from 25th December 1065 and the consecration of Westminster Abbey to William’s coronation on 25th December 1066. The story ends on 31st December 1066 when the newly crowned King is found hiding in a nunnery in Barking.

This talk will review the important events of 1066 and delve a little deeper into the background and intrigue that surrounded key dates and a look at life during that turbulent year.

It will also follow King Harold’s route to the Battle of Hastings and Duke William’s subsequent march to his coronation.

The Saxon Times is based on all the evidence available for that year and brings it together in a logical, understandable and entertaining format.

1066 William's March on London

14th October 1066 seems such a terminal date in English history but life continued.

‘1066 William’s March on London’ is an engaging account of what happened next as Duke William sought to consolidate his invasion of Anglo-Saxon England.

This is the story of Duke William’s strategy that culminates in his coronation at Westminster Abbey on 25th December 1066 and ends on New Year’s Eve.

Portrayed by his chroniclers as ‘a generous and accommodating man’ the reality is a little different as his plan unfolds and he cuts a wave of destruction across southern England with little opposition.

This talk delves a little deeper into the background and intrigue that surrounded the important events of that October, November and December starting with the aftermath of the Battle of Hastings.

The talk is based on all the evidence available for William’s march to London and brings it together in a logical, understandable and entertaining format.

Explore St Leonards on Sea

There is more to St Leonards on Sea than the Promenade.

There is much to admire along the front but hidden away behind the houses in St Leonards on Sea, is a story of a dream to build a New Town which in 1841 was said that “None but the unrivalled crescents of Bath and Bristol is superior to the Marina of St Leonards”.

This talk will first lead you through the Regency splendour of the rich and wealthy, on past Mercatoria and Lavateria, built to service the grand houses before venturing into a green St Leonards hidden away behind the houses, on the very edge of the town, and a history that stretches back at least a thousand years.

Landing places for Duke William’s fleet, a Saxon Manor house, the finest race course in the South-East and a Church hidden away in an ancient wood are all part of the legacy of St Leonards on Sea.

The talk is an engaging account of a walk around the history of St Leonards on Sea.

David Clarke Contact Details:

01424 425 888


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