Saving Michelham Priory Moat
Michelham Priory is situated in the beautiful countryside of Upper Dicker, near Hailsham. It is a Grade I listed building, which became a country house in the 1930s and was home to evacuees and troops during WWII. It is currently run by Sussex Archaeological Society, which also cares for Lewes Castle, Anne of Cleves House, and other properties across Sussex.
Michelham Priory boasts Britain’s longest continual medieval water-filled moat, which stretches a mile and encircles its site. The EA is failing in its duty to operate and maintain two water control structures and has not been providing ongoing water and silt management of the River Cuckmere over the past few years. As a result, there is no water supply to the moat during dry weather periods. This has caused the moat to dry out and resulted in damaging a unique natural ecosystem and huge regrowth of invasive vegetation.
The loss of available water in the moat has archaeological and environmental ramifications. The change in levels of soil moisture has led to the gradual drying up of the listed buildings that have stood on the site for centuries, and the lack of water in the moat has also made the historic watermill inoperable. In such unprecedented times that we find ourselves in due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a facility such as this mill is absolutely vital to prevent shortages of flour. Additionally, The moat has to be de-silted and water has to be returned to it immediately, if the site is to survive and thrive for generations to come.
Nus is hosting an end of day debate in Parliament on the Future of Michelham Priory on Tuesday, 15th September 2020.
"Michelham Priory is a wonderful piece of history and I am proud that Wealden is the home of the UK’s longest medieval water-filled moat. It is absolutely vital that the issue is addressed by the Environment Agency and that the moat is restored. I fully support the Michelham Priory moat restoration project and I am delighted to have the opportunity to raise the issue in Parliament and demand firm commitments from the Ministers to act immediately. To let such a unique, historic site disappear would be a devastating historical, social and economic loss for East Sussex. I am not going to let this happen on my watch.”
You can watch the full debate here.
To listen to my interview with Uckfield FM, click here.
Please see below the coverage of the case in Sussex Express and a thank you letter from Sussex Past.
Supporting Wealden's Art & Entertainment Sector
In light of the pandemic, I secured additional funding for six heritage sites and entertainment businesses. As part of the second round of the Culture Recovery Fund, nearly £400 million worth of funding has been allocated to over 2,700 arts, culture and heritage organisations in England, including 6 awards in Wealden, totalling £521,901.
The recipients were:
The Picture House, Uckfield
The Pavilion cinema, Hailsham
Lavender Line Ltd, Isfield
Feral Peacock Ltd, Forest Row
Lost Dog Dance, Laughton
Farleys House & Gallery Ltd, Muddles Green
I am delighted that my extensive campaigning for further grants will allow our local cultural sites and entertainment companies to continue to thrive post-pandemic. It is essential that we preserve our heritage, celebrate Wealden’s history, and protect local jobs and the economy.