Lewes History Group: Bulletin 11, (9 June 2011)

1.   Next meeting on Monday 13 June 2011: Diana Crook, ‘A Box of Toys’
2.   By the Winterbourne
3.   The Sheriff and the Tea Gardens Brewery
Victuallers’ Recognisances in 1781 (Bob Cairns)
5.   Albion Russell & Son
6.   1887 Watercolour of Lewes
7.   The Mechanics’ Institution
8.   The West Gate

1.  Next meeting at 7.30 p.m. on Monday 13 June 2011

Diana Crook, ‘A Box of Toys: A Lewes Anthology’

Our speaker next Monday, 13 June, will be Diana Crook, who will be speaking about her anthology of writings by authors once resident in Lewes, entitled “A Box of Toys”.

As usual the meeting will be held in the King’s Church Building, Brooks Road, and all are welcome.


2.  By the Winterbourne

Winterbourne, Lewes

This postcard showing Bell Lane leading into the bottom of Winterbourne Hollow is number 8668 from Funnell’s Copyright Series, High Street, Lewes, and was mailed in October 1913 to “A.W. Lassiter Esq, Arundel, Sussex” – evidently sufficient information for it to reach its destination. There appear to have been an extensive collection of allotments to the west of the hollow. Only one of the two houses featured survives.


3.  The Sheriff and the Tea Gardens Brewery

A brief entry in Plumer Verrall’s auction book records that on 6 June 1832 he auctioned the brewing utensils and effects of Mr J. Budgen, of the Tea Gardens, Winterbourne, “by virtue of an execution of the Sheriff”. The sum raised was £64 19s 0d, hopefully enough to pay off Mr Budgen’s debts. However, this entry does raise more questions than it answers. What role did the Winterbourne Tea Gardens play in the social life of Lewes? Was the brewing equipment necessary for this type of establishment? Did the Tea Gardens survive this experience?

Source: the recently catalogued auction book ESRO/AMS/6941/1/1


4.  Victuallers’ Recognisances in 1781        (Information from Bob Cairns)

Inns and alehouses have required licensing from the magistrates for centuries, but few of the early records survive. However, one list of licensed houses and their landlords does survive for the Upper Pevensey Rape of Sussex from September 1781. Upper Pevensey Rape includes the Cliffe and South Malling parishes, but ends at the river Ouse. The sessions were held at The Star, Alfriston, before magistrates William Kempe, Serjeant of Law, of Malling Deanery, and Luke Spence of Malling House. This single list happened to survive because it was used as the binding for another document.

This record, ESRO/QDL/1/E1, reproduced in the Sussex Family Historian vol.1, no.6, p.158, shows that in 1781 there were five licensed houses in the Cliffe and one more in South Malling parish.

The Bear                       licensee, John Hardyman
The Dorset Arms         licensee, John Durnford
The Fountain                licensee, Nicholas Hubbard
The King & Queen       licensee, William Sattin
The Ship                        licensee, Evan Davies

South Malling:
The Wheat Sheaf         licensee, William Weller

All these inns are mentioned in L.S. Davey’s little book on the Inns of Lewes.  The Bear stood until its 1918 fire on the site occupied by Argos (its final form is shown in the postcard below). A King & Queen stood nearby, where Bill’s now is, and there was another on Malling Street. The Dorset Arms and the Wheatsheaf were also on Malling Street, and the Ship and the Fountain on South Street.

High Street, Cliffe


5.  Albion Russell & Son

 Albion Russell

Albion Russell was a Victorian village shoemaker who moved from Chiddingly to Lewes to operate on a larger scale. Shoes were made not only for local consumption but were also exported to London and elsewhere. He is the Russell of the London store Russell & Bromley.

The shop at 187-8 High Street, here taken from an advertisement in F.W. Jackson’s Lewes guidebook (c.1926), advertised high grade footwear in A-E fittings, ensuring a perfect fit for every foot, from the narrowest to the widest, from the shortest to the longest. “Shoes that really fit are the smartest, not only at first but to the last.” Customers could have their size registered. There were other branches of A. Russell & Son in Brighton, Bognor, Horsham & East Grinstead.


6.  1887 watercolour of Lewes

 1887 Watercolour of Lewes, by Mary Willis

This watercolour by Mary Willis was offered for sale on ebay in January 2011. It features Lewes castle with, in the distance, the prison and its nearby windmill.

7.  The Mechanics’ Institution

“This useful institution on West Street was founded in 1825, for the purpose of diffusing amongst the operatives of the town a taste for reading and scientific pursuits. It is far, however, from being limited to mechanics, and its list of members contains the names of many professional gentlemen, merchants and tradesmen.

The building occupies the site of the theatre, and contains a commodious lecture-room and a library, with a handsome committee-room on the first floor. Lectures, principally on scientific subjects, are delivered on alternate Wednesday evenings during the winter. The library contains 2150 volumes, comprising many standard works in most departments of literature and science, and there is a very good collection of apparatus for philosophical experiments, with a few models, geological specimens, etc.

The number of members is at present 190. The subscription of 2s 0d per quarter entitles members to all the privileges of the institution; and strangers are admitted to the lectures at the very moderate charge of sixpence each. In the committee-room the Board of Guardians hold their weekly meetings.”

Source: Mark Antony Lower, ‘Hand-book for Lewes’ (1845)


8.  The West Gate

West Gate, LewesThis 18th century print by William Scott, taken from the Rev Thomas Walker Horsfield’s ‘History & Antiquities of Lewes’ (1824), shows the old West Gate of Lewes, in existence until 1763. The spire of St Michael’s Church can be seen above the ruins.

John Kay

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