2012 Putting Lewes Priory on the Map

Your Heritage Grant Press Release 

The town of Lewes has played a vital, but largely overlooked, role in medieval religion, the birth of parliamentary democracy and in the development of Roman Britain.

Now the recognition of this historical importance will be given a major boost thanks to two projects made possible by Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grants totalling almost £188,000.

The subjects of the grants are seen as being of national, if not international, significance. One is a ruined priory, the other the site of a hitherto unmapped Roman settlement.

Stuart McLeod, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund South East England, said: “Taken together, these projects shine a light onto centuries of history when the town of Lewes and its surrounding area was a witness to some pivotal moments in the development of Britain.”

Putting Lewes Priory on the Map aims to give much greater prominence to the Priory of St Pancras. It was founded in the 11th century by William de Warenne, who had fought alongside William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings, and his wife Gundrada. They persuaded the Abbot of Cluny, who controlled a network of hundreds of priories throughout Europe, to send four monks to Lewes and thus establish the first Cluniac Priory in Britain. In 1264 the Priory played an important role in the Battle of Lewes when Henry III surrendered to Simon de Montfort there and agreed for the first time to an elected Parliament. After Henry VIII became Supreme Head of the English Church Parliament approved the dissolution of the monasteries in 1536. Lewes Priory was handed over to the crown in 1537 and all the religious buildings were demolished.

A grant of £96,800 will enable the Lewes Priory Trust to work with local people of all ages to increase public awareness of the Priory’s significance. Young people will play a key role, helping to draw up plans for educational visits and creating children’s guides to the site. Teacher training programmes will be created and lesson plans drawn up to ensure that the site’s importance will feature in the school curriculum. Students from a local college will translate guides into other languages and an archaeological dig will be organised.

Digital technology will be employed with a Priory Story podcast for visitors and the installation of QR attachments at specific points on the site.

The project continues into 2014 when the 750th anniversary of the Battle of Lewes will be commemorated.

Lewes Priory Trust Chairman Sy Morse-Brown said: We are enormously encouraged that Heritage Lottery Fund has once again confirmed its confidence in the Trust and enabled it to take the Priory Project forward with an ambitious programme of development.