Ancient ritual to herald historic fair at St Thomas a Becket Church in Lewes

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An ancient ritual will herald the start of a Lewes church’s key fundraising event.

The charter November 1409, granting Thomas Arundel, Archbishop of Canterbury, the right to hold two fairs each year, will be read at 10am tomorrow (Saturday) outside St Thomas a Becket church in Cliffe High Street.

The charter was granted by King Henry IV and the witnesses signing it included the Archbishop of York, the Bishops of Winchester and Bath and Wells, Henry Prince of Wales (the future Henry V), the Duke of York and the Earls of Somerset, Arundel and Westmoreland. The final signatory, and presumably the man who actually wrote the charter, was Master John Prophete, keeper of the Privy Seal.

Between 10am and 12.30pm, Cliffe Hall, next to the historic church, is the venue for the Summer Fair. “Come and join the fun,” urged churchwarden Imogen Stewart. “There will be games and lots of stall for all the family to enjoy.”

Donations, on the morning, are also welcome. The organisers particularly want home-made cakes, preserves and gifts including soft toys. These can be brought to the hall before 10am. All money raised will go towards the upkeep of the ancient church which aims to be at the heart of the community in Cliffe.

More details on the church’s website at

The Grade II Listed building is one of the oldest churches in Lewes. The Archbishop of Canterbury had a jurisdiction over the Cliffe in the 9th century, so there was probably a chapel on the site then.

It would have been constructed of wood.