Lewes Priory series will Zoom in on history

Lewes Priory Trust will bring the Priory alive after the Covid lockdowns with a colourful series of  illustrated talks on Zoom.

Wednesday, 20th January 2021, 8:00 am
Lewes Priory aerial from the west c1520

Chairman Sy Morse-Brown said: “The talks are free to all, and we have news of a mysterious underground tunnel and the chances of new excavations at the Priory park.

“The Priory Trust is presenting a line-up of expert speakers in four evening symposia on Zoom. We’re proud to offer an appealing programme for anyone with a love of Lewes history, telling the story of how our magnificent monastery became one of the top ten in England 900 years ago. We shall tell the tale of how the Cluniac order of monks was a huge power across Europe 150 years before they even came to Lewes. For 300 years our Priory made a major and lasting mark on England, especially in Sussex, Yorkshire and Norfolk. Then its huge

buildings were unceremoniously blown up by an all-too-expert Italian engineer on the orders of Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell. We’ll show you some of the bits of it that were re-used in masonry around the town.

“The four symposia, each containing four short talks, begin at 7.30pm on Tuesday, May 4, Friday, May 7, Tuesday, May 11 and Friday, May 14.

“What did The Cluniacs Ever Do For Us? asks the first symposium. It aims to show what was so special about the pathway to heaven offered by Cluniac monasticism and how its great scholars and administrators put Lewes firmly on the European map.

“The second symposium, The Destruction And Rediscovery Of The Priory is the story of its demolition – which, thanks to the engineer’s reports, tell us much.

“The present day’s conservation challenges are discussed in the third symposium, Caring For A Heritage Site Into The Future. Speakers include the Lewes Town Clerk (the council is the latest of the many dynasties of Priory owners and benefactors) as well as the Trust’s architect, and local flintman David Smith. The concluding symposium, What The Latest Research Is Telling Us, has new insights into the lavatorium where the monks washed their hands before meals and its associated but still mysterious tunnel. There will also be encouraging news of possible new excavations on the Priory site that would be scrutinised by Historic England. The lectures finish with evidence the preservation of the Priory’s first small church for centuries, with its service as a shrine to Canterbury’s Saint Thomas Becket.”

The symposia are free: email [email protected] to receive the full programme.