850th anniversary of the Battle of Fornham to be commemorated this weekend

The 850th anniversary of the Battle of Fornham is taking place this year, and events to commemorate the event will begin this weekend with a re-enactment of the English battle.

The Battle of Fornham occurred during the Revolt of 1173, where three of the sons of King Henry II rose up against their father, supported by Louis VII of France. Battles and uprisings occurred across Normandy and England as a family feud caused a civil war of huge complexity.


The revolt reached the borders of Bury St Edmunds in October 1173 after Robert de Beaumont, 3rd Earl of Leicester, invaded England with an army of Flemish mercenaries in support of ‘Henry the Young’, the King’s eldest son. He was defeated and captured by supporters of Henry II at the Battle of Fornham. Although the revolt itself didn’t end until the following year, if Robert de Beaumont would have made it back to Leicester as is assumed his intention, he could have created a stronghold for the revolt in the heart of England, risking the fall of the realm.

West Suffolk Council, The Battlefields Trust, and All Saints Hotel are working together to create a series of events that will help further our understanding of the battle and its importance in our history. It starts with a re-enactment of the Battle of Fornham at West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village on Saturday 25 March.


The partners also researching and creating information panels that will stretch across the historic site of the battle. There will also be a series of talks, held at Moyse’s Hall Museum, run by West Suffolk Council, and at All Saints Hotel.

“This violent and bloody battle played a pivotal role in the revolt. Our history and heritage are important to us and our communities here in West Suffolk so ensuring that people understand the national significance of the Battle of Fornham 850 years ago is important,” said Councillor Jo Rayner, Cabinet Member for Leisure and Culture at West Suffolk Council. “That is why it is so great for West Suffolk Council to be working alongside the Battlefields Trust and All Saints Hotel on this exciting project that will provide lots of opportunities for residents of all ages to learn more about this piece of our history.”

The project has been supported with £6000 of locality funding from Suffolk County Councillors Beccy Hopfensperger and Robert Everitt. Match funding has come from All Saints Hotel, the Friends of Moyse’s Hall Museum, with resources committed by West Suffolk Council’s heritage service.

To mark the anniversary Moyse’s Hall Museum has a new display dedicated to the battle which includes the two ‘Fornham Swords’ side-by-side for the first time. Photo courtesy West Suffolk Council

“The Battlefields Trust is very excited to be working with Moyse’s Hall in their series of events marking the 850th anniversary of the Battle of Fornham,” adds David Austin, National Director of Operations for The Battlefields Trust. “In particular the exhibition at Moyse’s Hall and also our study day at All Saints Hotel, Fornham St Genevieve on Sunday 15 October.”


Moyse’s Hall Museum have created a blog which has been published to the ‘Bury St Edmunds and Beyond’ website as an introduction to the battle. For further details and tickets to the re-enactment on 25 March see Tickets: Adult £7, Child £4, Senior, reg. disabled & student £6, Family ticket £21. See

Top Image: Battle scene from the Canterbury Psalter in the late 12th century – Bibliothèque nationale de France MS Latin 8846 fol. 44v