Big plans to mark the anniversary of historic Battle of Lewes

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The anniversary of a momentous day for Lewes and for democracy is a bare 15 months away.

The Battle of Lewes was fought in May 1264 and big plans are

in the pipeline to mark the 750th year since the conflict which led to the dawn of Parliament.

It took place in the general area of Landport Bottom on the downs to the west of the town, but vicious fighting later took place in the streets themselves.

The armies of King Henry III and rebel baron Simon de Montfort clashed outside the town walls. The King was defeated and Simon summoned England’s first representative Parliament.

Now the Mayor of Lewes, Cllr Michael Chartier, is inviting people to celebrate the town’s rich heritage in 2014.

“I think it’s important that we don’t let this historic anniversary slip by without marking it in an appropriate fashion,” he said.

Cllr Chartier said one of the projects put forward was to have a display of banners in the High Street bearing the coats of arms of the noblemen from both sides who fought in the battle.

It will be discussed at a meeting in Lewes Town Hall on February 25 (7pm) and anyone who might want to join what promises to be a dramatic and colourful display is warmly invited to attend.

Meanwhile, Harveys Brewery has plans to produce a special ale to mark the occasion, and a march from Fletching to Lewes has been suggested – De Montfort’s army camped in the village on the eve of the battle before making its way south through the dawn countryside to decisive victory.

Elsewhere, the specially designed tapestry of the Battle of Lewes is being stitched by local embroiderers at Barbican House Museum.

Based on drawings by Lewes artist Tom Walker, the tapestry will tell the story of the battle using appropriate 13th century embroidery techniques.

Some compromises have had to be made to keep the project on track for completion in 2014. For example, commercially woven linen cloth has been used and yarns have been bought from Renaissance Dyeing, a company in France specialising in plant dyed crewel wool yarns. It has also advised on the colours available in the 13th century.