It is society which was founded by two Norman aristocrats in 1896 as a non-political organisation for the furtherance of friendship between people in France, Great Britain, Norway, Denmark, Canada and other countries where the Norman influence has been prominent. From the beginning, the Souvenir attracted Royal patronage from all the reigning houses in Europe which claimed descent from the Dukes of Normandy or from Tancrède de Hauteville. In particular, the Souvenir Normand attracted the royal patronage of Edward VII who was very influential in the negotiations which accompanied the establishment of the Entente Cordiale in 1904 between France and Great Britain, and the installation of the Norman Stone in the grounds of Battle Abbey set the seal on this ‘bridge of friendship’ and has been the focus of commemorative services ever since.
A similar commemorative stone & plaque (together with four lime trees) was placed in the port of St. Valery-sur-Somme (from where William set sail for England in 1066) by the French & British Sections for the 900th anniversary of the Battle in 1966. The President of the Souvenir Normand at the time was Sir Roger Frewen of Brede Place. The British Section is currently based in and around the Hastings and Battle area.
The Souvenir Normand promotes exchanges of visits and publications, cultivation of mutual historic interests, and affiliation of, or to, societies with similar aims in order to link the principal centres of Norman culture in Great Britain and abroad. The British Section of the Souvenir keeps its members in touch with each other by means of regular social and cultural activities and over the years has established links with other like-minded organisations. These include the Hastings & District Anglo-French Club, the Franco-British Society, and the Battle Twinning Association. In 1984, in partnership with the Battle Anglo-Norman Trust, a beautiful stained-glass window was installed in Battle Parish Church, portraying Harold and William with incidents from the Bayeux Tapestry.
There have been annual meetings and visits between the British and Foreign Sections of the Souvenir Normand since 1953 and we are delighted and honoured to have been asked to take part in the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings when we shall be welcoming our members from Canada, France, Denmark and Norway. For further information about the Souvenir Normand please contact the current chairman, Mrs. Corinne Gibbons (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)