Walkers cross Lewes battlefield site in pilgrimage re-enactment

Lewes Priory
Lewes Priory

One of the more unusual events to mark the 750th anniversary of the Battle of Lewes next month is the re-enactment of a pilgrimage which goes back even further in time.

It’s being organised by Footprints of Sussex, which is leading a walk across the South Downs from Pyecombe Church to the remains of Lewes Priory on Saturday, May 17.

Participants will be following in the footsteps of the many hundreds of pilgrims who took that route towards Canterbury in the 12th and 13th centuries.

Keith McKenna, from Footprints, explained: “Following the murder of Thomas Becket in 1170 there were lots of pilgrimages to his shrine in Canterbury Cathedral and those coming from the west would almost certainly have been offered refreshment at the ‘new’ church in Pyecombe and later taken rest at Lewes Priory.

“We have found a lovely 10½- mile downland route between the two, avoiding the more obvious South Downs Way, and have arranged tea and cakes at the end and a coach to take us back to Pyecombe.”

Footprints is organising the walk in conjunction with Pyecombe Church. The local community has an ambitious project to improve facilities at the church for the many visitors who pass through the village on one of the walking trails.

The project also aims to provide information on the unique cultural heritage of the church, particularly its links with Lewes Priory and its role as a downland place of worship.