Lewes Priory

Lewes Priory

Lewes Priory (St. Pancras Priory, Lewes) was a Cluniac priory established in the valley of the river Ouse in the eleventh century, between 1078 and 1082. It was founded by William de Warenne, 1st Earl of Surrey, lord of the Rape of Lewes, and his wife Gundrada, who had come to England from Normandy with William the Conqueror. The first prior was Lanzo, who came with a few other from Cluny. [Victoria County History]

The priory became wealthy and, at the time of its demolition under the dissolution of the monasteries in November 1537, it owned about 20,000 acres (80 km²) of land in the surrounding county of Sussex alone. However, there were only 24 monks at this time, reduced from approximately 100 during the period from 1100-1300. The priory played a part in the Battle of Lewes, when the army of King Henry III occupied it. In 1537, there was a choice between demolishing it, or Chichester Cathedral - the latter, though smaller, survived.

A substantial protected ruin still stands within parkland. The ruins were a popular tourist attraction, but are fenced off (bar occasional tours) to the public, for preservation. They are surrounded by the Priory Fields, which are open to the public. Nearby there are two neo-medieval buildings, a tower and a cottage, made from the stone of the priory. This stone has also been used in many other buildings in Lewes, including for the walls of the Grange Gardens.



* cite journal
title=St Pancras Priory, Lewes: Its Architectural Development to 1200
journal=Anglo-Norman Studies

*cite web
first = Tom | last= Kitch
title = Lewes Priory - History
accessdate = 2007-01-02

* cite book
last=Victoria County History
chapter=Houses of Cluniac monks: Priory of Lewes
title= A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 2
pages= 64-71

* cite web
first = Graham | last= Mayhew
title = lewes priory history website

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