Medieval troops poised to take over streets of Lewes

There will be fighting in the streets . . .
There will be fighting in the streets . . .

Battle Royal 750 will see the streets of Lewes filled with hundreds of medieval soldiers on Saturday, May 17.

It comes ahead of a re-enactment of the Battle of Lewes 750 years ago.

From 10am, men and women from Simon de Montfort’s baronial army and the Royal array of King Henry III will be out and about in the town meeting passers-by, talking about their armour and weapons and explaining what the day is all about.

In the early afternoon the armies will gather up on the Race Hill where the battle began on May 14 1264. The forces of the King were defeated by de Montfort’s much smaller army and fell back down through the town pursued by the victors.

Battle Royal follows the route. At various places, special vignettes will take place where known incidents occurred.

The first vignette will be up on The Gallops at 1.30pm where Prince Edward’s cavalry rode impetuously into an attack that took him far beyond the battlefield and out of the main fight.

From The Gallops the armies make their way down to Western Road to mount another vignette outside The Black Horse at 2pm. Nearby was the site of Snelling Mill where some of the King’s army took refuge.

The Royalists continue their retreat down to Westgate where a vignette at 2.30pm will depict the storming of the town gates.

The action then sweeps up through the Barbican gateway into the precincts of Lewes Castle where a further vignette depicts Henry III’s men holding the fortress (3pm).

Later the armies make their way to the Priory, spilling down the maze of medieval twittens just as they would have done on that fateful day back in 1264.

Within the Priory the King surrenders to de Montfort. Battle Royal 750 concludes with a superb Battle of Lewes medieval mystery play (4.15pm) written by the forthcoming new Mayor of Lewes Micheal Turner and performed at the venue by local actors.

On Sunday, May 18, from 10am to 2pm, there will be a Living History encampment with medieval battle re-enactors. It will be open to the public at The Dripping Pan, Mountfield Road, and admission is free.

Elsewhere, tomorrow (Saturday May 10) the battle will be commemorated by the Feast of St Pancras Fayre at Priory Park which begins at 10.30am. 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.

The launch of the Battle of Lewes Tapestry will take place on the actual anniversary of the battle on Wednesday, May 14, at Lewes Castle by the Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex (2.30pm).

It has been three years in the making by nearly 60 local volunteers. Based on drawings by Lewes artist Tom Walker, the tapestry tells the story of the battle using appropriate 13th century embroidery techniques. After the ceremony, there will be spinning and embroidery displays.

That evening there will be a spectacular – and free – fireworks display at The Dripping Pan, Mountfield Road, Lewes, starting at approximately 9.30pm.