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Historic Anniversary Commemorated

November 2007 -- King Harold Day was a roaring success once again this year. This major event, held in Waltham Abbey each year to mark the anniversary of the death of King Harold, on 14th October 1066, celebrated its fourth year last month.

Let WAHS Treasurer Steve Miller set the scene for us:

"Saturday morning dawned, quietly and still – but not for long. Slowly people and vehicles gathered and manoeuvred around the Abbey Gardens. Some were Army cadets in “fatigues”, some were in strange and mysterious costumes. Instructions were given, plans consulted."

"Slowly, gazeboes untangled themselves and stalls sprung up to accompany the waiting marquees. Before long more exhibitors, stallholders and visitors arrived and the area began to “hum” – King Harold Day had arrived!"

WAHS Secretary Barbara Harker helped out at the WAHS marquee. "The King Harold Day festival this year was held on Saturday 13th October," she said. "The weather on the day was just right – dry and not too hot. At 12 noon there was a memorial ceremony attended by the District Council.  Wreaths were laid at King Harold’s grave, including one by our Society."

Janet Grove, WAHS' excellent lecture programme and membership co-ordinator (she wears other hats for us as well!) felt "a real buzz in the air when King Harold Day got going. Several thousand people came through during the day - many from far afield."

Waltham Abbey Historical Society display

WAHS supported King Harold Day with a photographic display of the Market Square through the centuries, and a 'What Is It?' of interesting old curios to identify.

"Our stall attracted quite a lot of interest," said Janet," the 'What is it box' was a success, as was the rubbing of pre 1971 coinage. The photos of the Market through the ages were pored over, with a lot of comment, and we sold several cards, projects and booklets. A wreath was laid on King Harold's grave by our vice Chairman. A fully armed knight and his squire were much admired and photographed.

"There is always a lot of interest in our publications at King Harold Day," continued Barbara, "as it is local to us and many local people attend as well as visitors from further afield.  Our display of photographs of ‘Market Square Through the Ages’ drew a lot of interest, with many people stopping and reflecting on what the town used to be like.  The ‘What is It’ box drew a lot of attention as always, and the ‘Coin Rubbing’ of pre-decimal coinage was a hit with the children; one boy pointing out that Queen Boadicea’s trident was identical to the toasting fork in the ‘What is It’ box!"

The Abbey Church tower is thrown open

Waltham Abbey Church tower was opened to allow the public to climb to the top and enjoy outstanding views across the countryside. "I spent most of the day, with others, admitting and guiding visitors “up the Tower”, so saw little of the events outside," said Steve. "But all seemed to be enjoying their day, be it little ones involved in art displays or dressing up as knights of old, or older people finding out a little about such activities as archery, falconry, or just soaking up the atmosphere."

Steve said that "This 'day', although a relatively new event, certainly draws people together from Waltham Abbey and beyond - some visitors to the area were really surprised at how much there was happening - to enjoy the town and its’ history. Well done to the hidden army of organisers, who labour before, during and after the day – often unknown to most of us. Without their efforts, it would not happen, then we and our visitors would be the losers."

And who could deny that! King Harold himself would be proud of the 'organised army' and what it achieves every year in his memory.

King Harold Day 2008

The date for King Harold Day 2008 have already been released - for further details visit the King Harold Day website. Each year, around 4,500 people attend the festivities and activities. There are many attractions taking place on the day in and around  the Abbey Gardens, the Abbey Church and Churchyard.


Read the official report on King Harold Day 2007, written by the organisers.

See photos of the WAHS stall at King Harold Day

See our range of Publications


For More Information please Contact WAHS




Copyright Waltham Abbey Historical Society, 2007.