Talk to look at role of priory in Battle of Lewes

Surrender: Andy Gammon's impressive interpretation of the conclusion of the Battle of Lewes at the Priory
Surrender: Andy Gammon's impressive interpretation of the conclusion of the Battle of Lewes at the Priory

Feasting, Fighting and Freedom at the Priory of St Pancras will be the topical subject for members of the Lewes History Group on Monday, May 12.

The talk will be delivered by Helen Chiasson and Kate Hickmott of the Lewes Priory Trust.

Lewes Priory ruins.

Lewes Priory ruins.

The Priory of St Pancras was founded between 1078 and 1082 and by 1264 and the Battle of Lewes, had grown to be the largest and richest establishment in the region with strong connections to mainland Europe and the rest of England.

The talk will look at how the Priory came to occupy such a position and why it became the backdrop to the important events of May 1264, 750 years ago.

The Battle of Lewes took place on May 14, two days after the Feast of St Pancras, one of the most important dates in the calendar of the monks. Helen and Kate will look at why this date was so important to the Cluniac monks of Lewes and why the arrival of King Henry III and his army caused such disruption.

The monks may not have played an active role in the fighting but the Priory was an important sanctuary for the King and came under attack from the baronial army under Simon de Montfort. The monks were also present at the surrender and the signing of the Mise of Lewes.

Helen and Kate will also talk about how they have been bringing the Battle of Lewes to life for the children in local schools.

This has included hands-on experiences with knitted figures from the era, the ‘woolly warriors’ being produced by Sussex branches of the Women’s Institute.

Chairman of the Lewes Priory Trust, Sy Morse Brown, said: “We are delighted that WI members have supported our educational work and that the Battle of Lewes knitted figures have brought history alive for the children.”

Lewes History Group meets at the King’s Church building, in Brooks Road (opposite the Homebase car park). Doors open at 7pm for a 7.30 start and everyone is welcome. There is a small admission charge on the door (£3 non-members and £2 members) and free refreshments. Visit for more information on the group, its meetings and other activities.