Open Day - Lewes Priory

The Lewes Priory Herb Garden, in a little plot next to the ruins of the Cluniac Priory’s Infirmary, was set up in 1983 by students of Lewes Priory to try to recreate as accurately as possible the sort of herb garden that would have existed in the ground of the monastery when it was at its height in Medieval times. Although the garden was left to seed in the mid nineties it was renovated by Southover Grange Primary School students in 1996/97 and is now kept up by a small team of enthusiasts, led by retired teacher Hilary Black. Hilary will be on hand to show people round as part of Heritage Day on Saturday, and gave us a sneak preview.

“Herbs were not generally grown for culinary use; more for medicinal and household purposes,” she says, pointing out some longwort, to help with lung problems, some woad, used for dyeing, and some soapwort, used for dressing fabrics to stop them getting dirty. “We don’t know exactly what the monks grew here, or even exactly where they grew it, but we have a pretty good idea.” There is cotton lavender, for use against parasites, Madonna Lily, for bee-keeping, Bugle, to prevent bleeding, and Biting Stone Crop, an antidote to certain poisons. There’s Cowslip and Good King Henry, Lovage and Catmint, Agrimony and Jacob’s Ladder. It’s quite an experience, and Hilary, while admittedly not a herbalist, is a charming and knowledgeable host.

Mullein: soft, fuzzy, and good for lung disease
Lewes Priory
When? 2pm-4.30pm
How Much? Free
Hilary is looking for volunteers to help with the garden on Saturday
mornings. Please ring 01273 471930 or email