May Fayre in Lewes is truly fit for a king

Hitting the spot: there will be a packed programme of events at Priory Park in Lewes.
Hitting the spot: there will be a packed programme of events at Priory Park in Lewes.

Plans are being finalised for the bumper May Fayre commemorating the 750th anniversary of the Battle of Lewes.

A medieval king’s army will descend on the county town on Saturday, May 10, as part of a day of fun-filled historical entertainment at the Feast of St Pancras Fayre which will be followed by an evening of merriment at the Battle of Lewes Bash.

At the ground-breaking Battle of Lewes, on May 14, 1264, Simon de Montfort defeated King Henry III and effectively became uncrowned king of England, paving the way for a representative government.

The Fayre will launch a week-long celebration to commemorate the battle that saw the defeat of the autocratic Henry III and the dawn of the first representative democracy.

The event at Priory Park will feature a packed programme of events and activities, including demonstrations of traditional arts and crafts, beautiful birds of prey from Owls About Town, music, storytelling, archery and a tug-of-war.

Youngsters intrigued by ‘horrible history’ will particularly enjoy the chance to ‘experience’ the grisly wounds the armies suffered in the battle, including amputations.

Visitors will also have the opportunity to purchase ‘Battle of Lewes – An Alphabet’, the handiwork of 16 Lewes printmakers.

The reproduction set of 26 prints, together with a booklet of historical notes on each print, will be available to buy for £12 at the Fayre, which was first started in 2009 by the Southover Bonfire Society. Proceeds from the event are divided between local causes supported by the Bonfire society and the Lewes Priory Trust.

Mark Ridgwell, one of the organisers of the Fayre, said: “There are only three weeks to go to May 10 when King Henry III and his army will be welcomed to Lewes and to the sixth May Fayre held in Priory Park, Southover.

“So Southover Bonfire Society is busier than ever preparing a Fayre truly fit for a king. This year it will be followed by the Battle of Lewes Bash so the visiting army can get to know local residents better on the dance floor rather than the battlefield, courtesy of music from Sussex Pistols, So Last Century and Dirk and Adam Campbell.”

Building on the success of previous years, the Fayre will begin at 10.30am and at around 12noon there will be the re-enactment of Henry III’s army marching into town to be greeted on Cliffe Bridge by a welcoming party of local dignitaries.