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LEWES PRIORY

ALTERNATIVE NAME:  PRIORY OF ST PANCRAS
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Remains of the earliest Cluniac Priory founded in England between 1078-81 by William de Warenne and his wife Gundreda. An historically important site because it was built as a copy of the mother house of Cluny. The number of monks varied throughout the Mediaeval period, the greatest number being 50-60 in the late 1200s. The priory was surrendered on November 6th 1537. Excavations in 1845 recovered the plan of the buildings in the East and South range of the cloister, and the bridge and necessarium to the South of the cloisters. The sanctuary and sacristy to the east of the high altar were also excavated. Although the nave was not excavated, it is clear from the description of its destruction in 1537-8 that the whole church, at 405 feet long, was almost the same size as Lichfield Cathedral. At the time of its demolition, it comprised a nave, chancel, apsidal transepts and West tower with steeple. The arrangement of the claustral buildings was confirmed in the early 1900s, when the infirmary chapel and infirmary hall were located south of the sacristy and east of the cloisters. Excavations in 1972 found evidence for timber buildings below the 11th century nave. It is possible that these are the remains of preceding churches. These excavations also located some of the trenches cut in 1537 to facilitate the demolition of the church. The priory remains consist of the South-West tower of the west end of the church, the south wall of the frater and its vaults, the dorter undercroft and reredorter, and the infirmary chapel.The east end of the chancel, sanctuary and sacristy were entirely destroyed in 1845 when the railway was cut through the site. Dependencies are: Castle Acre, Clifford Priory, Heacham Grange, Monks Horton, Monkton Farleigh, Prittelwell, Stanesgate, the Hospitals of Lewes, and two French dependencies, Mortemer-sur-Eaulne and Ettouteville.

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