Lewes History Group: Bulletin 34, (7 May 2013)

Please note: this Bulletin is being put on the website one month after publication. If you would like to receive the Bulletin as soon as it is published, please contact the Membership Secretary about joining the Lewes History Group.

1.   Next meeting, Monday 13 May 2013: Sue Berry, ‘The Duke and his Allies’
2.   School Hill
3.   The County School for Girls, Lewes
 ‘Gaywood’, Houndean Rise
Drinking Songs of the South Downs by Nicola Benge
Lewes Societies Fair
  Social Networking by Jane Lee


1.   Monday 13 May, 7.30 p.m. at the King’s Church Building, Brooks Road

Sue Berry             The Duke of Newcastle and his Political Allies

For five decades in the 18th century Thomas Pelham-Holles, Duke of both Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Newcastle-under-Lyme, used his interest, based on his family estates at Halland and Bishopstone, to dominate the political scene in Sussex, and especially the borough of Lewes. Politics in some ways has little changed. Alliances between individuals and groups were as important in the 18th century as they are today. The key differences were the small electorates and the way in which MPs seats were managed. We will look at the way in which the Duke of Newcastle, his allies amongst the local gentry and his ‘interest’ operated, using their holdings in Lewes and the surrounding countryside and other means of influence.

Sue Berry has written many articles about the history of Sussex in the Sussex Archaeological Collections and in national journals. An Associate Fellow of the University of London Institute of Historical Research, she is currently completing the Victoria County History volume covering the City of Brighton and Hove.

We shall be serving coffee and biscuits prior to the meeting. As usual all will be welcome.


2.   School Hill


Source: This early Edwardian postcard of School Hill shows the Martyrs Memorial shining out from Cliffe Hill. It was printed by Stengel & Co of Dresden-Berlin.

3.   The County School for Girls, Lewes

The County School for Girls was opened by the County Council in September 1913, with 59 pupils and four teachers, lead by Miss L.E. Vobes. It inherited students and some staff from the Lewes Pupil-Teacher Centre. Within a year the number of pupils had risen to over 100 and two additional staff members (one a man) had been added. Miss Vobes, whose first name has not come down to us, remained as headmistress until 1934-5, when she was succeeded by Miss Joyce M. Abbott. The school became the Lewes Girls’ Grammar School, which survived to 1969, when it was merged with the Boys’ Grammar School and the Lewes Secondary Modern School to form Priory School.

The County School for Girls premises then housed the younger Priory School pupils until a further reorganisation in the early 1990s. They now house two different Lewes primary schools, Southover Church of England School and Western Road.


The unposted postcard above, published by Marshall, Keene & Co of Hove, shows the County School’s “New Building”. Houses on Grange Road and The Course can be seen in the background. Similar postcards appear on ebay from time to time, with one recent card, below, dated by the seller to the 1930s, showing an art class in progress. I’m not a costume or hairstyle expert, but they look later than the 1930s to me.


Photographs of Miss Vobes from the 1935 School Magazine:



Information sources: East Sussex Record Office records on Priory School, and ‘The Chronicle of the County School for Girls, Lewes’ published in 1934 & 1935.


4.   ‘Gaywood’, Houndean Rise                                                                                  


This postcard is identified only by writing on the reverse, which also adds the date 1949. Is the information correct, it still there, is it still called ‘Gaywood’, and does it still look like this?


5.   Drinking Songs of the South Downs                                      by Nicola Benge

A free folk song workshop organised by the Ale & Hearty project will be held at the Lewes Arms , Mount Pleasant, Lewes, from 10.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. on Saturday 8 June. To find out more, or book a place, please contact me on 07727 006538 or by email at aleandheartylewes@gmail.com.

When there was a celebration in the offing, a war to be fought or love to be extolled, how better to do it than with a drink. The folk songs of the South Downs included great howling choruses of joy to the joy of ‘barley brew’, and would have been sung whenever groups of people met together to socialise at the pub, the market or the fair. We will teach you these songs in the joyous way they were intended – no ‘finger-in-the-ear’ wailing, we promise. We will also give out printed hand-outs with the words to learn the songs more easily. No previous singing experience is required.

Ale and Hearty is a Heritage Lottery-funded project looking at the history of brewing in our town. The event will be led by Emily Longhurst and Chris & Ann Hare, who have been singing together since 2007 and recently run the very successful South Downs Songs Project with the South Downs Society.


6.   Lewes Societies Fair

The Lewes History Group has booked a table at the Societies Fair in the Town Hall on Sat, 13 July. The fair is open from 10am to 1pm. We hope that our participation will increase awareness of our activities and ultimately attract more members. Our publicity officer, Jane Lee, is organising this and if you can help please email leweshistory@gmail.com putting ‘Societies Fair’ in the subject field:

There are two areas in which we would particularly appreciate help

  • Manning the stand for an hour – 2 committee members will be there at all times but it would be good to have a third enthusiast as well for additional cover for breaks.
  • Lending us visually interesting material to go on the 3 display boards. We want to show what the Group does in terms of research & talks, eg photographs, post cards (we can scan & enlarge these rather than use originals), artefacts & old documents.


7.     Social Networking                                                                          by Jane Lee

If you use social networking then you can follow LHG on:

Facebook:       https://www.facebook.com/LewesHistoryGroup, and
Twitter:           https://twitter.com/LewesHistory.

These will be additional channels for telling people about the group’s activities but we need to build up the following to make them effective.


John Kay                                              

Contact details for Friends of the Lewes History Group promoting local historical events:

Sussex Archaeological Society
Lewes Priory Trust

Lewes Archaeological Group and go to ‘Lectures’
Friends of Lewes
Viva Lewes questions (and answers) about local places, customs and history

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