Lewes Priory plays host to medieval magnificence at May Fair

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Lewes give a rousing welcome to King Henry III and his 13th centry army on Saturday May 10.

This year’s Southover Bonfire Society’s May Fayre was truly fit for a King and, despite early rain, the sun appeared as he and his army arrived in the Cliffe to be welcomed to Lewes by the High Sheriff, Mayor, Chief Constable and numerous worthies and burghers.

Regrettably the King’s arrival was not welcome by all but fortunately there were some formidable soldiers guarding him and at least one protester was bundled off the bridge with appropriate force.

After the formal greetings on Cliffe Bridge all, including at least 300 members of the King’s costumed army, marched on to the Fayre to be greeted by the Prior of St Pancras, to feast in anticipation of the Feast of St Pancras and to practise their archery and crossbow skills prior to their expected battle with Simon de Montfort and his fellow barons.

Some even had opportunity to have their wounds dressed, while others had their injuries attended to by a surgeon, including even some amputations in the medieval operating theatre.

After a morning of solid rain, fortunately the sun shone on a splendid afternoon followed by a Battle of Lewes Barn Dance that had all tapping their feet to Sussex Pistols, So Last Century and Dirk and Adam Campbell.

Meanwhile, attention switches to Battle Royal 750 tomorrow (Saturday) when the streets of Lewes will be filled with hundreds of medieval soldiers from 10am.

In the early afternoon the opposing armies of the King and Simon de Montfort will gather on the Race Hill where the battle began.

Battle Royal will feature vignettes where known incidents took place – at The Gallops (1.30pm), The Black Horse (2pm), Westgate (2.30pm) and the Barbican gateway (3pm).

Later the armies make their way to Priory Park for the King’s surrender and a Battle of Lewes medieval mystery play (4.15pm).