Cluniac Monks

Our first pioneers wear the black robes of Cluniac monks who lived in the Priory of St Pancras. Built on land between Cockshut lane and the Convent Field the Priory was very large and would have dominated the south of Lewes.


Founded in 1081, St Pancras Priory was the first and largest monastic church in England. The monks were extremely wealthy with daughter houses in Yorkshire and Norfolk, who paid taxes to Lewes. In medieval times black was a difficult colour to dye and maintain, thus a dark black robe would have been a sign of great wealth and power.

Lewes Priory played a major part in the 1264 Battle of Lewes, billeting King Henry’s troops before the battle. A victorious Simon de Montfort forced the King to sign the ‘Mise of Lewes’ accepting his Council, which paved the way to the first English Parliament.

Far from living a chastened life, Priory monks would have had servants, eaten and drunk to the full and enjoyed the presence of women, who were regularly brought to the Priory!

Being a Southover monk means you lead our marches and have a nice warm outfit including a hood should it rain. Southover monks organise our extremely successful spring Fayre which is held around the second weekend in May to celebrate the feast of St Pancras and the anniversary of Battle of Lewes.

Come along on new members night to find out more about being a monk and how to make a robe and those important accessories. Or click here for more information on robe making.
John Gower
First Pioneer Chief

Monk costume