Home to the Rooks since our foundation in 1885.
The Dripping Pan
Few football clubs in the UK, let alone Europe, can boast of playing at the same venue for over 135 years as Lewes Football Club can. Better still, our ground was recently voted No.1 in the “British Football’s Greatest Grounds” book. Eat your heart out Anfield.
Why is it called the Dripping Pan you ask? Well, there’s a story… and if you come along and buy club historian David Arnold a pint, he’ll gladly tell you.
The original purpose of the site is unclear, although local legend suggests that it was part of a salt making industry run by monks from the adjacent Cluniac Lewes Priory, the ruins of which can still be seen from the ground. The spoil from the excavation forms the Mount behind the Clubhouse, and both structures appear in the very earliest maps of Lewes in 1745.
Indeed, the ground may merely be the excavation pit for the Mount itself, which has been suggested as the original ‘temporary’ motte and Bailey fortress constructed by William the Conqueror’s close ally, William de Warenne, before he developed Lewes Castle on higher ground. An archaeological survey during construction of the new terrace failed to reveal any further insights into either the purpose or the age of the ground itself.
The earliest known sporting use for where the Pan is located was for cricket. The 2nd Duke of Richmond’s XI played Sir William Gage’s XI in August 1730. It is not clear if the game was started as an announcement stated that “it was put off on account of Waymark, the Duke’s man, being ill”. Thomas Waymark was the outstanding player of the time. An even earlier matches is known to have taken place in Lewes in 1694, but the specific location was not recorded.
Further light is shed on the ground’s cricketing heritage by Lewes Priory Cricket Club:
“In 1831, Mr J Longford, one of the local brewers, bought 10 acres of the Lewes Priory Grounds from the Earl of Chichester and made some of the grounds known as the ‘Dripping Pan’ available for cricket, something that the cricketers of Lewes had been hoping would happen for many years. Mr Longford owned the Castle Brewery which was behind Castle Gate house. This donation, in turn, led Mr J Verrell and a number of gentlemen to form the Gentlemen of Lewes into a properly constituted club which was initially known as ‘The Dripping Pan’ Cricket Club. Instead, the Club was always referred to as the Priory Cricket Club and this name was soon adopted.
The Dripping Pan, which became renowned because of its peculiar construction, was regarded as unique in the world of cricket. It remained the home of the Priory Club for the next 135 years before moving to the Stanley Turner Ground on the Western outskirts of the town in 1937. The Dripping Pan provided a marvellous atmosphere for both playing and watching cricket. Boundaries only counted when the ball reached the path around the top of the banks. Unfortunately the ground also proved to be an ideal football pitch and eventually football was allowed to be played across the ‘cricket square’ and little by little the wickets deteriorated and became unsuitable for top class club cricket.”
Lewes F.C have played at the Dripping Pan every year since 1885, apart from a couple of seasons immediately prior to the First World War when the club played at the adjoining Convent Field.
The Dripping Pan has seen major redevelopment since 2000 in order for it to achieve the necessary ground grading to allow it to be used as a football venue in higher Leagues.
Stands and seating have been added on three sides, but without losing any of the Pan’s unique character…
The Dripping Pan is a unique venue for watching the beautiful game. The 550-seater South Stand provides comfortable seated accommodation, fully covered and has viewing bays for fans in wheelchairs. The newest stand, the Philcox Terrace, is the ‘home’ end where the loyal Rooks fans generate the noise under the roofed terrace and rooks (the birds) genuinely hover around to lend their support on matchdays. At the top of the terrace you will find viewing bays for people using wheelchairs, toilets, our new matchday bar and our fries hut. At this end of the ground, at the lower level, is the Rook Inn, where you can sample a range of local beers, prosecco-on-tap and our Pies hatch, serving pie, mash and mushy peas.
The Mountfield Road Terrace, which is also wheelchair accessible, offers panoramic views of the grounds, with the chalk South Downs to your left and the wide-open countryside to the south of the Dripping Pan. It runs the length of the pitch so swapping ends at half time is never an issue.
At the east end of the ground is the Ham Lane Terrace, affectionately known by fans as ‘The Jungle’. There are no trees or wild animals though, so we just want to set your expectations.