Carved stone capital

Medieval, about 1150-1175
From Lewes, Sussex, England

The capital is from the priory of Lewes in Sussex. It is from a respond, or half column, that would have been attached to a wall to support an arch. It is carved in Caen stone, imported from Normandy, and is decorated with the figures of two beasts, a lion (left) and a griffin (right), divided by a tree-like motif. It is a great misfortune that the face of the lion is lost and that the griffin's ferocious beak is also missing. However, the state of preservation on the whole is outstanding and most of the detail remains vigorously crisp and fresh.

The plumage of the griffin is heavily layered and textured and the mane of the lion is picked out in delicate curls arranged across its chest and shoulders. The claws of both animals are finely chiselled and possess an angularity that shows little evidence of weathering. This is a remarkable feature since the capital may have fallen from its original position in the Priory in 1538 during the turbulent years of the dissolution of the monasteries. Nothing is known of where it was placed in the Priory but it is likely to have furnished an internal rather than an external space.

Find in the collection online

More information


H. Poole, Lewes Priory, the site and its (Lewes, 2000)


Height: 344.000 mm
Width: 586.000 mm
Depth: 473.000 mm

Museum number

P&E MLA 2004,8-1,1


Given by Mr Mervyn Ralph Corfield


Find in the collection online

Related objects

Search highlights

There are over 4,000 highlight objects to explore