Lewes History Group: Bulletin 17, (10 December 2011)

1.   Next Meeting on Monday 12 December:  Christmas Meeting
2.   An early aerial view of Lewes
3.   Old Houses at Lewes
4.   From Alice Dudeney’s Lewes Diary
5.   Watercolours of Lewes Castle in 1785 by Samuel Hieronymous Grimm
6.   Lewes Great Sheep Fair, 1850
Mary Anne Berry’s Christmas, 1847
Lewes History Group meeting dates for 2012


1.  Christmas meeting at 7.30 p.m. on Monday 12 December 2011

     Ian McClelland                  ‘The impact of the Railway on Lewes’

     Paul Myles            ‘Film: Rodin in Lewes – The Kiss comes home’

Our Christmas meeting will feature two talks by members. The coming of the railway often had a dramatic effect on the area’s trade and history. Ian McClelland has been exploring its impact on Lewes, and will give us an account of this work in progress. After the interval Paul Myles will show us a film recording a piece of more contemporary history, the story of the Rodin exhibition in the Town Hall that featured the return to this town of his famous ‘Kiss’ sculpture.

As this is our Christmas meeting, we will be offering mulled wine and mince pies in the interval between the two talks, instead of coffee and biscuits before the meeting.

2.  An early aerial view of Lewes


This aerial view of Lewes shows the Paddock (laid out with a football pitch), The Avenue & Bradford Road, in a postcard published in the Brighton Palace Series offered for sale on eBay in October. If you enlarge the image you can also see the former Lewes Union workhouse (behind the houses on Bradford Road), Leicester Road (is only one side built?) and the Victoria Hospital.

3.  Old Houses at Lewes


This pastel drawing, catalogued as by Herbert Davis Richter (1874-1955) was offered as lot 2208 at Gorringe’s 11 December 2011 Lewes auction, with an estimate of £500-£800.

Anyone recognise the view?

4.  From Alice Dudeney’s Lewes Diary

6 January 1943. The fourth winter of the war, and everybody fed up, with not being fed at all! It is very cleverly managed, but we are being kept just above starvation level. And I, who have never cared much for food, in fact bored by it, feel I can no longer stand these make-shift meals, these horrible messes and mouldy bread that tastes like chaff.

20 January 1943. The big raid on Lewes. At 12, when I was peaceful in bed [with flu], the most terrific bangs. The bed and the house shook. I was stunned, and so defenceless undressed. Winnie came rushing up with some loving incoherence about “dying together”! A plane rushed past the window, flying very low. The black shadow of it shut out the light. I shall always think of the Angel of Death, and the ‘beating of its wings’. I shall never see a blackbird fly past my window without remembering. Three more followed, very close and low, they seemed to be at the window pane. More bangs, rushings, vibrations. I expected the house to go. Then silence. We learned later that two people were killed and many injured. We, and the Lucas’s, have escaped with broken windows. Winnie came up with my supper at nine and the news that they “couldn’t dig out poor old Mrs Digweed”. (They did in the end).

21 January 1943. People were so kind …. all called to see if I was all right. I insisted to Dr Irvine that I must dress and come down, that to lie up there and be buried alive was too ghastly a thought. So I am down here, feeling an awful rag.

22 January 1943. The most awful devastation in the town, especially in North Street, New Street and New Road. The Stag Hotel burnt to the ground and Stevensons the corn chandler has lost his windows, with almost the last lovely fanlights left in Lewes. All the people have got to clear out of St Martin’s Lane, which was also hit. I sat in my chair all day, half asleep, but jumping like a shot rabbit if even a cinder dropped out of the fire.

Source: Diana Crook (ed) ‘Mrs Henry Dudeney, A Lewes Diary, 1916-1944’, Tartarus Press, (1998).

5.  Watercolours of Lewes Castle in 1785 by Samuel Hieronymous Grimm

Source: British Library online collection

A view of Lewes Castle and the Bray Mount from Mr Shelley’s Paddock

The view from Mr Shelley’s garden


6.  Lewes Great Sheep Fair, 1850

The Sheep Fair was held annually on the Downs above the town every September. The flocks presented for sale arrived on foot, many of them making their way through the town streets.


Source: The Illustrated London News, 28 September 1850

7.   Mary Anne Berry’s Christmas, 1847

Saturday 25 December 1847. Christmas Day. Richard spent it here. He gave us the turkey we had for dinner. We went to see Grandpapa Wille in the afternoon. He was very poorly. Text in the morning Hebrews chapter 3. Richard is staying the night at Norlington [Farm, Ringmer], as Mr Thos. Knight is gone to see his grandson at Tunbridge.

Monday 27 December 1847. Papa, Uncle Henry, Jane [her sister] and I went to Brighton by train. We found George & Ann in bed, as they had the influenza slightly. Papa took Jane & I to hear Mr Gate’s new organ, with the double action. It certainly is an admirable invention. We left Jane at Brighton – Aunt Sophia has invited her to stay until her health is re-established. We returned by the last train. Richard was returned from the Prayer Meeting. He had tea with Harriet [another sister of Mary Anne’s], as he found it very lonely at Norlington, keeping house while his Uncle and Aunt were at Tunbridge. The grandson is the attraction now. Mrs T. Knight is quite foolish over it. I understand Aunt Morris had a son. Papa called, going to Chapel.

Source: Mary Anne Berry’s unpublished diary. She was a daughter of builder and developer James Berry, who lived in the large house below the Coombe in Malling Street. Richard Knight, her intended husband, was a Barcombe farmer’s son. They attended Tabernacle.

8.   Lewes History Group meeting dates for 2012

Dates for our meetings next year will be:

Monday 9 January          Monday 16 April       Monday 9 July              Monday 8 October

Monday 13 February       Monday 14 May       no August meeting        Monday 12 Nov.

Monday 12 March           Monday 11 June      Monday 10 September  Monday 10 December

John Kay








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