Battle of Lewes anniversary to be marked by wide range of events

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The 750th anniversary of the Battle of Lewes will be commemorated in style this year.

A wide range of exciting events are in the pipeline to mark the milestone in May.

They include a costumed procession through the town and skirmishes at significant sites including Landport Bottom, scene of the momentous meeting in 1264 of the opposing armies of Simon de Montfort and King Henry III.

A May Fayre will feature an extensive range of stalls, displays and activities, while Prepare For Battle at 750 is a project devised by young people for young people to raise awareness of the Battle of Lewes and the resultant birth of democracy in England.

The innovative Lewes Youth Theatre (LYT) has been awarded £40,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to support spectacular activities scheduled to take place over three days.

In partnership with Sussex Archaeological Society and Sussex Downs College, LYT plans a medieval camp where more than 200 young people will live in 13th century conditions.

Lewes High Street will feature an outdoor exhibition of the coats-of-arms of major participants in the battle, and the Town Hall will host an exhibition of the best entries in an art/writing competition on a 1264 theme involving local schools.

Music and drama will play key roles in the anniversary activities, which are being co-ordinated by the Battle of Lewes Steering Committee.

Arts Council England is funding the De Montfort March, a drama featuring The Company about the rebel baron’s dawn progress from Fletching to the battlefield on the downs, and the Everyman Ensemble will perform specially commissioned music composed by Helen Glavin.

Lewes Little Theatre will perform a dramatic re-enactment of the battle in the traditional medieval genre of a mystery play.

Events at Lewes Castle will include a bones exhibition celebrating an archaeological investigation inspired by the year 1264, and a display of striking artwork by Peter Cole which tells the story of the battle and the events which led up to it. Eagerly awaited is the public launch of the painstakingly hand-stitched tapestry depicting the battle.

Expert Dr Graham Mayhew is due to give a talk on the events of 750 years ago at Anne of Cleves House, while at nearby Priory Park newly bronzed pictorial panels will be unveiled on the striking sculpture shaped like a giant 13th century helmet which commemorates the battle.