A 13th century ‘village’ will take shape on the Railway Land Nature Reserve in Lewes as it hosts a three-day Medieval Festival.
Lewes Youth Theatre was this week given the go-ahead to use the beauty spot for the spectacular event, which forms part of the Battle of Lewes 750th anniversary commemorations.
‘Prepare for Battle @ 750’, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, will see up to 150 young people camp in the medieval village on May 16, 17 and 18.
Democracy, the great legacy of the battle in 1264, will be high on the agenda. It will see local people in debate alongside politicians, media and political commentators, and the ‘hustings’ will be officially opened by Lewes MP Norman Baker. The action will be streamed live and beamed to the ‘Democracy Tent’ where all can view and vote.
Medieval-themed festivities will include music, theatre, dance, storytelling, workshops, open fires and food and drink.
A new play by Lewes poet John Agard is in full rehearsal, and bands such as Moulettes, Serpentyne and Circulus are playing alongside home-grown talent from Folky Fish – the folk tentacle of the Starfish Music Project. Resident bands are Kalamus and the drum group Stix.
Lewes Youth Theatre has been working extensively with The Railway Land Wildlife Trust and Lewes District Council to realise this innovative project and Dr John Parry, director of the Railway Land Project, said: “Although this is not an event we sought, we have been delighted at the way the young people have not only listened to and accommodated our wildlife and conservation concerns but have also fully embraced the democratic history that has guided and shaped the use and management of this local nature reserve for the community.
“The Railway Land Wildlife Trust has worked closely with the new Ranger, Dan Fagan, as it is Lewes District Council which owns the land and we are confident in his assessment regarding wildlife sensitivity and his positive endorsement of celebrating the site in its own right, through its history and the continued role it plays in our county town from flood relief to wildlife conservation.”
Phil Rhodes, co-ordinator of Lewes Youth Theatre and project leader, said: “The young people began the funding bid process in September 2012. They truly own this project and magic is happening - this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for all who are involved in and/or experience Prepare for Battle @ 750.”
Cllr Michael Chartier, Chairman of Lewes District Council, said: “The council is delighted to be working in partnership with Lewes Youth Theatre on such an exciting and innovative project. It provides both an opportunity for participants to not only learn important heritage, construction and project skills but also a lasting insight into the nature and importance of democracy.
“This will be one of the most interesting attractions for visitors during the 750th celebrations.”
Full details of how to get involved in the festival, and events leading up to it, can be found on Page 39. Visit www.lewesyouththeatre.co.uk for more information.