Battle of Lewes 1264


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Location Description:
East Sussex
Lewes (District Authority)
East Sussex
Lewes (District Authority)
East Sussex
Lewes (District Authority)
St. Ann (Without)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
TQ 39829 10977



King Henry III, in his efforts to subdue the reforms springing from the Provisions of Oxford of 1258, provoked a baronial faction led by Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, to the extent that civil war was only a matter of time.

Simon de Montfort and the baronial army marched on the King at Lewes and positioned themselves on the crest of the Downs to the north-west of the town. The King's foot soldiers followed the cavalry under Prince Edward up the long hill, but were pushed right back against the Castle and Priory in the town. The royal army suffered significant casualties, several leading supporters of the King had fled, and much of the town was ablaze.

The battle gave way to negotiations which gave Simon and the Barons increased power. But progress towards reform was constantly hampered by the need to guard against the return of the King's supporters. The deciding factor in the struggle between reform and absolute monarchy had to wait until the Battle of Evesham in August 1265.

Apart from the expansion of Lewes towards Offham Hill, the landscape of the battlefield is essentially unchanged from the open grassland of 1264. In Lewes itself, the Castle dominated the crowded, largely timber-built rows of houses.

AMENITY FEATURES The battlefield is criss-crossed with public rights of way, which make access excellent to the baronial positions near Offham Hill. The Castle and Priory, both vital features in the battle, are also publicly accessible.

OTHER DESIGNATIONS All of the battlefield outside the town is on the Sussex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Offham Marshes and part of the Clayton to Offham escarpment are sites of Special Scientific Interest. In addition, Offham Hill Quarry and Lewes Racecourse are sites of nature conservation interest.

KEY SOURCES Halliwell, J O (ed.), 1840, Chronicle of William de Rishanger of the Barons' Wars

This list entry was subject to a Minor Amendment to the Selected Sources on 10/04/2019


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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English Heritage Battlefield Report: Battle of Lewes 1264 (Published 1995), accessed 10th April 2019 from


This battlefield is registered within the Register of Historic Battlefields by Historic England for its special historic interest.

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