Lewes History Group: Bulletin 14, (7 September 2011)

1.   Next Meeting on Monday 12 September:  Nigel Jones
2.   A Game of Stool Ball
3.   The
Bowling Green at Lewes Castle
The Defiance on School Hill
5.   The Battle of Lewes Conference: The Beginnings of Parliamentary Democracy?
Gideon Mantell’s Journal: Appointments as Parish Surgeon
Can you name this clergyman?
8.   View over Lewes, 1880


1.  Next meeting at 7.30 p.m. on Monday 12 September 2011

Nigel Jones                       ‘The Tower of London: Crucible of a Nation’

The Speaker at our meeting next Monday, 12 September, will be Lewes historian, biographer and journalist Nigel Jones, who will speak about the Tower of London, the subject of his new book.

No site in Britain is more freighted with history than the Tower of London. Since William the Conqueror built its central Keep – the White Tower – in 1078, as a status symbol to overawe the oppressed citizens of his newly acquired kingdom, the Tower has played a central role in the nation’s affair. Among its many functions, the Tower has been: Royal Palace and Pleasure Dome; military fortress; Menagerie; Royal Mint; Observatory; Record Office; a place of sanctuary from rampaging mobs for London’s Jews, and the King’s Ministers; and Jewel and treasure house.

It is now the nation’s No.1 tourist attraction. Most notoriously however, the Tower is infamous as the prison, torture chamber and execution site of high-ranking state prisoners. It’s roll call of prison inmates have ranged from saints (St Thomas More) to genuine sinners (Rudolf Hess and the Kray Twins); from Queens (Anne Boleyn; Katherine Howard; Lady Jane Grey; Elizabeth I); to Kings (Richard II; Henry VI); and from heroes (William Wallace; Walter Raleigh; Samuel Pepys) to villains (Thomas Cromwell). Some families – the Wyatts, the Dudleys and the Howards – have had three successive generations who suffered in the Tower.

Now, for the first time in a generation, Nigel Jones describes the Tower’s many moods and does justice to the many faces and functions of the iconic fortress. In a huge history he tells the story of the Tower’s builders; its escapees; its Royal and animal captives; and shows why the Tower is still the most haunting – and haunted – symbol of power and continuity in the country.


2.  A Game of Stool Ball


From The Graphic, 4 Nov 1884 ‘Old Folk & Fashions, near Lewes, Sussex’


3.  The Bowling Green at Lewes Castle


This Edwardian postcard was published as part of Funnell’s copyright series, High Street, Lewes.


4. The Defiance on School Hill


This print of the Defiance coach on School Hill is taken from an issue of The Illustrated Sporting Dramatic News, 4 September 1880. The print was offered for sale on eBay in June 2011.

5.  The Battle of Lewes Conference: The Beginnings of Parliamentary Democracy?

This one day Sussex Archaeological Society conference will be held on Saturday 14 April 2012, at the Assembly Room, Lewes Town Hall. Tickets are now available at £30. To book phone 01273 405737, Tues-Fri, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. The conference forms part of the Battle of Lewes project – 750th anniversary in 2014. Tickets include a delegate booklet and tea and coffee.




6.  Gideon Mantell’s Journal: Appointments as Parish Surgeon

26 March 1819: “The Annual Parochial Meetings – The thanks of St. Michael’s parish were voted to me for my attention to their sick during the last year. In the afternoon I went to the Meetings at Ringmer and Malling.”

24 March 1820:  “In the Evening I attended the Parish meeting at Malling. This day I was appointed to the medical attendance of the Parishes of Ringmer, Malling, St. John’s, and St. Michael’s.

31 March 1828:  “Monday. Re-elected Surgeon of Saint John’s Parish for the 17th time.”

Source: John A. Cooper, ‘The Unpublished Journal of Gideon Mantell’, published online only.


7.   Can you name this clergyman?


Alan Pett thought that the clergyman in the last Bulletin looked a lot like the Rev John Newton Holder, who was minister of the Congregational Tabernacle from 1933-1938 and again from 1953-1954.
Dee O’Connell reported that Dennis Brown, who attended Pells Church of England School in the 1930s, thought it to be the Rev Langhorne, rector of St John-sub-Castro, who he recalled as a good man who looked after the poor, and was buried in the churchyard there.

8.   View over Lewes, 1880


This print offered on eBay in July 2011, and dated 1880, is said to be from a volume of “Our Own Country”.

It shows the houses of South Street in the left foreground; Cliffe church to the far right foreground; All Saints Church, above the houses of Friars Walk in the middle distance; and St Michael’s spire to the left of the castle. The print emphasises the industrial nature of Victorian Lewes. Several windmills can be made out on the hills around the town.

John Kay

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