Lewes History Group: Bulletin 19, (10 February 2012)

1.   Next Meeting on Monday 13 February 2012 :  ‘How did Lewes Grow?’
Sussex Industrial Archaeology Society Event: “Industrial Archaeology of Lewes”
3.   Priory Crescent, Southover
4.   Lewes Borough Building Control records
5.   Lewes Borough Council purchases the Town Hall
6.   The Government of Lewes
7.   Two Mayors of Lewes

1.  Next meeting at 7.30 p.m. on Monday 13 February 2012

Lewes History Group members                  ‘How did Lewes Grow?’

The aim of the meeting is to give everyone the opportunity to share, in small groups, what we know about where we live and plot the places where people live (or have lived) on a map of Lewes. If you have documents, for example old deeds or photographs, please bring them along. Even if you don’t live in Lewes now, or never have done, please come to the meeting. The questions you could ask and your contributions to the discussions will still be valuable.

Perhaps you could tell everyone something about why you live in Lewes and the history of the places where you have lived, both past and present.

  • How old is the house you live in now, or any previous house: 21st century? 1970 -2000? 1945 -1969? Inter-war? Edwardian? Victorian? Georgian? Earlier?
  • How long have you, or your family lived there?
  • Is your home the first to be built on that site?

Following the meeting a small team will gather together all that we have learnt and write a short piece for the Bulletin and the Web site. We are hoping that the information we collect will be a very useful source for the group and might lead to some new group projects.

2.  Sussex Industrial Archaeology Society Event                            (Peter Luckin)

West_Blatchington_MillBob Cairns will be giving a talk entitled “Industrial Archaeology of Lewes” to the Sussex Industrial Archaeology Society (SIAS) at 7.30 p.m. on Saturday 11th February 2012. Bob’s talk will be illustrated using images from his extensive collection of Lewes postcards.  The SIAS look forward to having Lewes History Group members join them for this event. There is a small entrance fee of £1 for non-SIAS Members.

The SIAS meeting is at West Blatchington Mill Barn, Holmes Avenue, Hove, which is in itself well worth a visit – a remarkable windmill that appears to arise from the roof of a large barn, visible fom the A27. The mill was built in about 1820 on a tall flint and brick tower that is surrounded by barns. It was beautifully illustrated by the artist John Constable in a watercolour dated 5th November 1825.

The mill is a smock mill. These are usually octagonal, but West Blatchington mill is six sided – one of several design features that are very unusual. If travelling by car, take the Dyke Road exit from the A27.

3.  Priory Crescent, Southover


This 1913 postcard of Priory Crescent, Southover, was recently offered for sale on eBay. The Regency-style crescent was built starting in 1835 on part of the cemetery of Lewes Priory, and was originally called New Crescent. Behind an elegant and symmetrical facade, each new owner created their own house to their own design, and from the rear you can appreciate their different ideas.There are 10 houses altogether in the yellow-brick and stucco crescent, with its elaborate pilasters, ballustrades, balconies and parapets. Priory Crescent has a grade II listing from English Heritage.

After the Catholic Emancipation Act allowed Catholics to worship openly again, a Lewes group began to celebrate Mass at 10 Priory Crescent, overlooking the ruins of the former Priory of St Pancras. Later in the 19th century Lewes Catholics built their own Church on St Anne’s Hill, dedicating it to St Pancras. The view below was taken from Lewes Castle.



4.  Lewes Borough Building Control records

Following the establishment of the new Lewes Borough Council in 1881, it began to collect and retain building control records for all the new buildings in the borough area. The earliest were:

6 Dec 1882 1-4 Priory Terrace, Ham Lane [Mountfield Road] for Charles Scrase
6 Dec 1882 Alterations to 24 St Anne’s Crescent, for Thomas George Roberts
6 Dec 1882 Lavatory & water closet, Ragged School, St John Street, for Isaac Vinall
6 Dec 1882 Water closets, High Street, for Mrs Stephenson
3 Jan 1883 Alterations and additions to classrooms, National School, Station Street
7 Feb 1883 Proposed new roads, Leicester Road, Guy’s Road and Prince Richard’s Road, Wallands Estate, for Mrs Ann Baxter, executrix of W.E. Baxter, endorsed ‘Leicester Road, with others not constructed’
4 Apr 1883 New stables, shops and carriage repository, St Mary’s Lane [Station Street] For Messrs T Cox & Son
2 May 1883 1-3 St John’s Terrace, for Joseph Vinall
2 May 1883 8 houses, Talbot Terrace, for Charles Scrase, endorsed ‘not erected’
2 May 1883 Reading room, 54 High Street, for the Lewes Conservative Association
6 Jun 1883 New shop front, 1 Fisher Street, for Samuel Beckett (lessee)
4 Jul 1883 ‘Elmdene’ & ‘Greycroft’, Grange Road, for Thomas K W Gates
4 Jul 1883 17-25 St John’s Terrace, for Joseph Vinall
1 Aug 1883 New streets, Toronto Terrace, Talbot Terrace, Pelham Terrace & St John’s Terrace, for E. Wells
1 Aug 1883 13 houses on the St John’s Farm Estate [1-13 Pelham Terrace] for Albert Parker
1 Aug 1883 Entrance gate & Refreshment Room, Gardener Street, for the Lewes Cattle Market Company

This run of records continues until the implementation of the new Planning Act in 1948. The architect and/or builder’s names are often included, along with the owner.

Source:  ESRO/dla25/DL/A/25. The full catalogue is available online at the Access to Archives website.


5.  Lewes Borough Council purchases the Town Hall

At a special meeting held 8 Aug 1883 the Lewes Borough Council, led by the mayor Walter Crosskey, ordered that the corporate seal should be affixed to the agreement with Mr William John Smith for the purchase of the Star Hotel, Corn Exchange, Stables and Tap. The council also approved making an application to the Treasury for their approval for the council borrowing the sum of £6,900, at interest, on the security of the land and property purchased from Mr William John Smith (except for the Star Tap, the resale of which was anticipated) or of the Borough Fund or the Borough Rate. They proposed to repay the loan over 30 years.

The Borough Council’s intention, based on the recommendations of a committee chaired by Wynne E. Baxter and including Walter F. Crosskey, James Adames, John Every, Joseph King, Isaac Funnell, Benjamin Thorpe, Henry Pumphrey and Frederick Flint, was that the Star Inn should become the new Town Hall for the Borough. The Borough Surveyor gave a detailed report, noting that the front wall was up to two inches out of plumb, but that as they were 2 feet 6 inches thick this was not of great importance. The cellars were damp and the Corn Exchange needed repairs, but the central location was excellent. Over £1,500 was needed for the repairs and alterations.

The same meeting also agreed with the owners of land adjoining Pelham Terrace and Talbot Terrace for laying a new sewer for the St Johns Farm Estate.

Source: Verena Smith (ed) ‘The Town Book of Lewes, 1837-1901’, Sussex Record Society, vol.70 (1976).


6.    The Government of Lewes

Source:  ‘The Antiquarian and Visitors’ Guide to Lewes’  by W. Banks, Station Street, Lewes (1881)

The Government of the Town has passed through various phases. The Domesday Book mentions a Mayor. A Corporation is known to have existed in Norman times, but was forfeited by Henry II. For many years the town has been governed by High Constables and Commissioners acting under two Acts of Parliament. But a large portion of the town not being included within these jurisdictions, were compelled to rely on the parochial legislation intended for rural districts. Ten years ago the present Senior High Constable (Mr Wynne E. Baxter) commenced an agitation for a Municipal Corporation. This agitation eventuated last year in enthusiastic meetings in favour of the movement, under the presidency of that gentleman, and by his energy the grant of a Charter is expected by the time these pages are published.”

7.    Two Mayors of Lewes

 Lewes_Mayor_Wynne_Baxter  Lewes_Mayor_J_Holman
 Wynne E. Baxter Esq.  Alderman J. Holman, J.P.

Oil paintings by unknown artists, both in the Lewes Town Council collection.

As noted above, Wynne E. Baxter was the first mayor of Lewes in 1881-2, but dead by 1883. Alderman Holman was one of his early 20th century successors, and is pictured above wearing the same regalia.


John Kay




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