Plans for the Future

What we hope to do

Investigating the Infirmary

The Infirmary was excavated by St John Hope and recorded in SAC  XLIX and he reported that ‘little else than its foundation is left’ (p.70) but that ‘owing to the wholesale clearance of the site not a stone is left to give any clue as to the nature of pillar, arch or superstructure.’  However of significance among the details he does give is a reference to a chamber on the southern side at the eastern end which was ‘traversed by the drain of the first rerefdorter’ and which ‘probably served as the domus necessaria of the infirmary’ (art.cit.p.70).  His report includes lots of details about the alterations that were carried out to the building.

Apart from this archaeological report no record appears to exist of the plans or drawings or finds associated with this excavation.

The GPR Survey carried out in 2008 reveals the outline of the infirmary to varying depths from surface level up to 2000mm.  The images suggest that the walls and pillars and chambers are clearly delineated.

The sloping artificial bank that at present exists to the south of the outline of the infirmary is of interest in so far as when and why it was constructed and what it may contain and especially what it may reveal about the original floor level or possible undercroft the infirmary.

An archaeological investigation involving the Infirmary need not be extensive or overly intrusive, but specific questions could be answered through cross sections through the bank to the south or selective trenches or pits.  There is the possibility to also locate the outflow and direction of the culvert or drain from the west-east drain of the First Reredorter and possibly any associated drain from the speculative domus necessaria of the Infirmary.

We believe that all this suggests that a project devoted to increasing our knowledge of Lewes Priory Infirmary would be well worthwhile. It may also feed into the work done by others on medieval hospitals in the UK (Brian Moffat at Soutra et al). 

It is crucial that any investigation comes with the backing of Historic England. It has said:
We highly appreciate Lewes Priory Trust’s extraordinary efforts thus far in investigating Lewes Priory (e.g. laser scanning, archive collation). And we commend the considerable amount of effort and expertise that has been given – both in bringing the site back into a good state of preservation, and opening it to the public for their appreciation. 

In its response HE is  encouraging us to develop proposals to demonstrate that the works will have a realistic potential to answer nationally (or at least regionally) important questions. We are continuing to put together a programme which will do this with an appropriate timetable. Once we have detailed approval from Historic England we can turn to the matter of raising the considerable funding which will be required.

 

Cluniac World Heritage Classification

Lewes Priory is a member of the European Federation of Cluniac Sites (FESC) which has launched a bid for UNESCO recognition of a selected number of its members as World Heritage Sites. Lewes is amongst the 50 locations ( and the only UK site) which have applied for registration. If successful, this bid will have far reaching consequences for the status of Lewes Priory (on a par with Stonehenge & Skara Brae) and its ability to secure funds for projects. Link to FESC website

 

Wildflowers in Priory Park

In 2021 the Trustees decided to develop an area of wildflowers on the bank above the herb garden. Advice has been sought fro Wildflower Lewes and, if funds can be raised, this will be realised in 2022. We have been fortunate that LPT member Jennifer Healey who owns a small drinks business called Buckingtons Ltd which makes Priory Punch has offered to donate a share of the profit on sales in Lewes. 

Priory Punch information and ordering details