History: AS Early Modern History Seminar at Lewes Priory

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On Saturday 12 January a cohort of AS historian visited the nearby Lewes Priory for a History seminar hosted by local historian Malcolm Kitch. Bede's pupils Jess Bass, Katie Dale and Rowan Lewis met up after the trip to discuss the experience.

"We're studying the Dissolution of the Monastaries," said Ms Bass after returning from the trip, "and this kind of first-hand experience is really important because it helps us to develop a more rounded understanding."

Fellow pupil Katie Dale nodded in agreement, adding, "We should do it every year."

Organised by Bede's History department and hosted by Sussex University professor Malcolm Kitch, the goal of the trip was to help pupils accumulate some first-hand, practical knowledge about the Priory.

"Although the history of the Priory stretches back to the 11th century," continued Ms Dale, "our focus was on the Dissolution. Walking around the remnants of Lord's Place was incredible. I mean, it's hard to imagine how big the Priory must have been at one point."

After the Dissolution of the Monasteries and the demolition of the buildings, the Lewes Priory site was briefly owned by Thomas Cromwell. Lord's Place was a substantial house built on the site of the prior's lodgings which survived until after 1668.

Dominating the site was the great church however, with a nave 432 feet long, larger than Chichester Cathedral.

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"You can't imagine a building that size being brought down," continues Ms Bass. "It's amazing just the efforts Cromwell went to in order to tear it apart. They inserted giant beams under the stones and set them on fire!"

"Having an expert there to guide us was fantastic," adds fellow AS pupil Rowan Lewis.

"Professor Kitch really knows his stuff, so as we walked around we soaked up his passion as well as all of the information he was giving out. Plus, so much local knowledge went into the study packs we took home which are really in-depth. It was an invaluable experience."

Alongside AS Early Modern History trips to Hampton Court Palace, Heever Castle and Michelham Priory, this outing is part of a wider curriculum of practical learning being promoted by Bede's History department.

The culmination of these events will then take place on 15 March when Bede's is hosting a Tudor History day.

"This kind of experience is part of that Bede's mantra," says Ms Lewis in conclusion.

"Our school really goes the extra mile. I mean, sometimes, when you learn about things like the Dissolution of the Monasteries, you feel so far from historical events. This trip really helped to close that gap."

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