Battle of Lewes Pageant

Pageant type

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Place: No Information (Lewes) (Lewes, Sussex, England)

Year: 1976

Indoors/outdoors: Outdoors

Number of performances: 1


15 May 1976 at 12pm

Name of pageant master and other named staff

  • Joint Organiser [Pageant Master]: O’Reilly, Nicky
  • Joint Organiser [Pageant Master]: Rose, Charles

Names of executive committee or equivalent


Names of script-writer(s) and other credited author(s)

Names of composers


Numbers of performers


Financial information


Object of any funds raised

In aid of local charities

Linked occasion


Audience information

Prices of admission and seats: highest–lowest


Associated events

Lewes Festival

Pageant outline


King Henry’s army musters on the battlefield. It was a late start due, some say, to a night of carousing at St. Pancras. Priory Meantime the gathering populace are entertained by musicians. [Synposes text is taken from Battle of Lewes Pageant, Programme ([Lewes], 1976).]


Baron de Montfort’s army, having spent the previous evening in spiritual preparation, depart their camp led by Simon de Montfort and march up the High Street to the Castle, where they join their locally recruited men-at-arms. The full army, escorted by minstrels, proceed in martial splendour through the town to the battlefield.


The Royal Army displays its weaponry, tactics and manoeuvres.


The Royal and Baronial armies form battle lines. King Henry and Earl Simon, having come to the centre of the field and made their declarations of intent, rejoin their supporters and the opposing armies move into position, preparing to do battle, chanting their war-cries. Volleys of arrows and missiles from siege machines herald the commencement of battle.

 A cease-fire is arranged in order to collect the dead and then the furious conflict continues with fresh manoeuvring and charges by the two forces, but victory has yet to be won!

Following the battle, bring the children on to the field to meet the knights.

Medieval Fayre, Merrie England, 1264

Key historical figures mentioned

  • Montfort, Simon de, eighth earl of Leicester (c.1208–1265) magnate and political reformer
  • Edward I (1239–1307) king of England and lord of Ireland, and duke of Aquitaine
  • Henry III (1207–1272) king of England and lord of Ireland, and duke of Aquitaine

Musical production


Newspaper coverage of pageant


Book of words

None known.

Other primary published materials

  • Battle of Lewes Pageant, Programme. [Lewes], 1976.

References in secondary literature


Archival holdings connected to pageant

  • Copy of Programme, Sussex Records Office, Reference DL/D/293/10/28

Sources used in preparation of pageant



Like the nearby Battle of Hastings Pageant (1966), this was a historical re-enactment of a battle and not strictly a historical pageant, consisting of episodes dominated by dramatic performance. It portrayed the battle of 1264 in which Simon de Montford effectively defeated the army of King Henry III, and shows that many early historical re-enactments were still presented as pageants. Indeed, the modern-day fashion for historical re-enactment, as practised by the Sealed Knot (for example), owes much to the historical pageant movement; to an extent, it can be seen as a development from it. A previous Pageant had been held in the town in 1972, which was also a part of the Lewes Festival.


How to cite this entry

Angela Bartie, Linda Fleming, Mark Freeman, Tom Hulme, Alex Hutton, Paul Readman, ‘Battle of Lewes Pageant’, The Redress of the Past,