Open main menu

Priory School is a British co-educational secondary school for 11- to 16-year-olds located on Mountfield Road in the East Sussex town of Lewes. It received widespread public attention in 2019 over its policy of forcing girls to wear trousers.

Priory School
Lewes Priory School logo.png
Mountfield Road

, ,

Coordinates50°52′09″N 0°00′58″E / 50.86906°N 0.01624°E / 50.86906; 0.01624Coordinates: 50°52′09″N 0°00′58″E / 50.86906°N 0.01624°E / 50.86906; 0.01624
TypeFoundation school
Local authorityEast Sussex
Department for Education URN114598 Tables
HeadteacherAnthony Smith
Age11 to 16
Enrolment1,165 pupils


Priory School was originally formed in 1969 when the Lewes County Grammar School for Girls, the Lewes County Grammar School for Boys and the Lewes Secondary Modern School were amalgamated to form a comprehensive school called Priory School, its name referring to the nearby Lewes Priory. At this point, although the school was comprehensive for children who lived within the town of Lewes, it was also open to children from the surrounding towns and villages who had passed the 11 plus. During this period there was also academic streaming: the names of the streamed groups were based on the letters of the word MOUNTFIELD.

In its early years (from 1969 until around 1980) the school was in three separate locations: the former Girls' Grammar School buildings in Potter's Lane housed the Lower School (ages 12–13), while on Mountfield Road the Secondary Modern buildings housed the Middle School (ages 14–15), with the Upper School (ages 16–18) in the former Boys' Grammar. Later, in the early 1990s, the school was split into a Sixth Form College (16–19) and the separate Priory School (11–16) on the Mountfield Road site.

In 2017 the uniform was changed to prohibit new joiners from wearing skirts, and was said by the headteacher to be "gender-neutral". Multiple news outlets and alumni, including Piers Morgan[1] criticised the move, stating that the restrictions were more of a contradiction than a progression in uniforms.[2][3]


Priory School then became centred on the site of the former Secondary Modern School and new buildings have since been added. The adjacent buildings formerly used by the County Grammar School for Boys and by the Sixth Form College have become part of the Sussex Downs College (Higher Education). The Chapel, of the former Boys' Grammar School, was retained by the Priory School. This chapel was built after the Second World War to commemorate the boys from the school who fought in the war. Next to it is the Music Block, which was rebuilt in 2008 in place of the old temporary one. The new block features improved disabled access, but thin walls and a void beneath the floor make it a rather difficult environment for music lessons.

In 1993, the new revised version of Priory School opened boasting a new wing – the "South Block" – and a heavily refurbished main building. The latter was the home of Lewes Secondary Modern School until 1969, sporting a distinctive copper plated clock tower. The main building included new science labs, a library and design technology rooms, built in anticipation of design technology being in the National Curriculum. The South Block hosts, on the ground floor, the Art, Maths, Modern Foreign Languages and English classrooms and on the first floor the Humanities classrooms. The Performing Arts Block was built recently next to the Main Hall.

The nearby Leisure Centre is used for indoor sports and the nearby Convent Fields, the Cricket Nets and the Tennis Courts, for outdoor ones. Between the South Block and the Main Building is a playground called the Quad. The tarmac playground continues until the chapel but there are large muddy and grassy areas surrounding it.


Priory School has a strong tradition of amateur drama that it inherited from the grammar schools. The Head of History, Jim Butt and co-writer Colin Burgess wrote an entire musical about the life of local First World War soldier, Private Rupert Freeman, called "In the Pink". The pupils are divided into four "houses" named Fire, Earth, Water and Air. Each pupil is allocated to a house and the houses compete collectively in sport and other activities.

Priory has been awarded Arts and Language College statuses, specialising in these areas with increased funding. The three modern foreign languages taught are Spanish, French and German. There is also a Chinese club.

A number of pupils have gone on to make careers in the arts. Eric Goulden amd Pete Thomas made their names in the music business. Graeme K Talboys has had a number of books published.


In 1960 a chapel, designed by Sir Edward Maufe,[4] was built to honour the boys from the Lewes County Grammar School for Boys who died in the Second World War. Their names are shown on the walls of the vestibule, with the Latin motto "Dare Nec Computare" above the door, translating as "To give and not to count the cost".

Notable former pupilsEdit


  1. ^ Holly Watt. "Secondary school makes uniform gender neutral". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 September 2017.
  2. ^ "Lewes school adopts new 'gender neutral' uniform policy". Retrieved 7 September 2017.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Comprehensive List of Building's designed by Sir Edward Maufe. Retrieved September 2011

External linksEdit