How Lewes missed out on “a glamorous new future”

Lewes will hear how the town missed “a glamorous new future” in Tudor times nearly 500 years ago, in a free talk on Zoom by a Cambridge professor on Friday, June 11.

Prof MacCulloch
Prof MacCulloch

The lecture The Best-Laid Plans: Thomas Cromwell’s Failed Future For Lewes by historian Diarmaid MacCulloch will explore how Lewes was swept up into English power politics at the highest level in 1537.

Professor MacCulloch explains: “Two of early Tudor England’s most powerful men clinched a deal to keep their respective spheres of influence safely separated. Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s chief minister, planned a glamorous new future for Lewes, and for his family there – despite organising the demolition of the magnificent Lewes Priory, and especially its Great Church. But he was foiled by a wholly unexpected turn of events. I shall tell what happened, how he tried to save his schemes and where it all ended up.”

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Diarmaid MacCulloch is Professor Emeritus of the History of the Church, Oxford University and Fellow of St Cross College and of Campion Hall.

His History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand years won the 2010 Cundill Prize, the world’s largest prize for history, and his TV series of 2015 was a taster for his next book, Sex and The Church. He was knighted in 2012. His biography of Thomas Cromwell appeared in 2018.

The Professor’s talk marks the 40th of the annual Emil Godfrey Memorial Lectures, presented by Lewes Priory Trust.

Trust spokesman Peter Varlow said: “Emil was a renowned conservation architect – Rochester Cathedral was in his care – and his great affection for Lewes Priory prompted him to devote much time and great energy to its preservation. From the 1960s he continued his father Walter’s restoration work of the 1950s and the Lewes firm Carden & Godfrey have been architects to the Priory ever since.”

The lecture, at 7.30pm on Zoom, is free to all. Registration is required: [email protected] for the Zoom link.