Lewes History Group: Bulletin 40, November 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 11 November: John Hollands, ‘Lewes Railway Connections’
2.    Leighside
3.    Birds in Georgian Lewes
4.    Cotton Mill in the Cliffe
5.    New Landlord at the Bear
6.    An 1812 Executor’s Sale
7.    Friars Walk in 1964
8.    The Great Lewes Flood, October 1909
9.    The Monks at the Priory (by Graham Mayhew)
10.  Lewes History Group A.G.M. & membership renewal for 2014
11.  Nevill History Group (by Ann Holmes)


1.   Next Meeting  Monday 11 November 7.00pm for 7.30pm
John Hollands                Lewes Railway Connections

Railway enthusiast John Hollands will talk about how Lewes became connected to our railway network, and other matters associated with its complicated railway history in the nineteenth century, including why Lewes has had three stations; the impact railways had on the town; some notable comings and goings; and what Mr Burwood Godlee of Leighside had to do with it all. John’s father was a railway worker, and as a child, he spent much time watching train movements from his father’s allotment on what was once the Leighside Estate, now the Railway Land.

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


2.   Leighside


By kind permission of Edward Reeves edwardreeves.com

Leighside, the home of the Quaker Burwood Godlee, stood on what is now the Railway Land.


3.   Birds in Georgian Lewes

Source: Rev Gilbert White’s letter to Danes Barrington, 8 October 1770, published in his ‘Natural History of Selborne’. This letter was written from Delves House, Ringmer, while White was paying his annual autumn visit to his aunt.

This district affords some bids that are hardly ever heard of at Selborne. In the first place considerable flocks of cross-beaks have appeared this summer in the pine groves belonging to this house; the water-ousel is said to haunt the mouth of the Lewes river, near Newhaven; and the Cornish chough builds, I know, all along the chalky cliffs of the Sussex shore.

I was greatly pleased to see little parties of ring-ousels (my newly discovered migraters) scattered, at intervals, all the way along the Sussex downs from Chichester to Lewes. Let them come from whence they will, it looks very suspicious that they are cantoned along the coast in order to pass the channel when severe weather advances. They visit us again in April, as it should seem, in their return; and are not to be found in the dead of winter. It is remarkable that they are very tame, and seem to have no manner of apprehensions of danger from a person with a gun. There are bustards on the wide downs near Brighthelmstone. No doubt you are acquainted with the Sussex downs: the prospects and rides around Lewes are most lovely!”


4.   Cotton Mill in the Cliffe

“In the year 1793 Mr Edward Egles, with a laudable spirit of industry and enterprise, established a cotton manufactory in South-street [Cliffe], which is the first of the kind ever attempted to any extent in this part of the kingdom.”

Source:  ‘Ancient and Modern History of Lewes & Brighthelmston by Paul Dunvan (1795), pp.322


5.   New Landlord at the Bear

Source: 21 January 1811 Sussex Weekly Advertiser

BEAR INN, CLIFF. RICHARD INSOLL, late and for many years Butler to General Prescott, respectfully informs the Public, Gentlemen Travellers, etc. that he has taken and entered upon the above INN, where he humbly hopes, by an assiduous attention to their every comfort, with a choice selection of wines and other liquors, clean well aired beds, and obliging servants both in the House and Stables, he shall meet with their support and encouragement, which it will be his unremitting study to merit. N.B. For the more commodious entertainment of his Friends, the Premises are about to undergo considerable improvement. A good COOK wanted.”


6.   An 1812 Executor’s Sale

Source: 30 November 1812 Sussex Weekly Advertiser

TO BE SOLD BY AUCTION, By VERRALL and SON, On Friday next, the 4th of December  1812, ALL the HOUSHOLD FURNITURE, of Mrs. ARAUNAH VERRALL, deceased, at her late residence, St. Michael’s, Lewes, Consisting of excellent mahogany dining, Pembroke, claw, and work tables, ditto chests of drawers, chairs, and cellaret; a handsome 6 leaved Indian screen, pier and dressing glasses; two sets of neat painted chairs, with cushions and chintz covers; Brussels and Kidderminster carpets; a good eight-day clock, a few pictures, octagon and round dinner china, tea and coffee ditto, glass and earthenware; four-post and press bedsteads, printed cotton stuff furnitures, goose and other feather beds and bedding; a pair of urns; kitchen and washing requisites; a pair of excellent large well- buckets, with two wheels, and about 100 feet of chain, and a variety of other effects.”

Well into the 20th century the death of a householder of substance was closely followed by the sale of their household goods, conducted on the premises by the local auctioneer. They were widely attended by friends and neighbours with time on their hands, whether or not they planned to buy. I have attended such sales myself as recently as the 1960s.


7.   Friars Walk in 1964


The first Lewes railway station in Friars Walk is shown above, photographed in 1964, not long before its demolition. It stood approximately on the site now occupied by the redundant Magistrates Court building. The roadsign shows that Friars Walk then accommodated two- way traffic. Parked cars, which include a Mini, are becoming intrusive. The Railway Inn, now a private house, is in the foreground.


8.   The Great Lewes Flood, October 1909

Both the postcards below were mailed by L.C.A. to an address in Hyde Park, London, from Lewes in November 1909. The writer noted, “Could swim therein”. The upper photo is “From the [railway?] line. My end is much better”.



Both postcards were published by The Press Photo Company, Havelock Road, Brighton


9.   The Monks at the Priory                                                        (by Graham Mayhew)

Finally, after more than 10 years’ work, my book on Lewes Priory is at the printers and will be delivered to me in mid-November. If ordered now, I can ensure delivery in plenty of time for Christmas. The book is 484 pages long, hardback, roughly A4 size and lavishly illustrated with over 70 pages of colour photographs. If you would like a copy, please contact Graham Mayhew, 2 Montacute Road, Lewes, BN7 1EN. The published price will be £45, discounted to £35 if you purchase a copy pre-publication, direct from the author. Your copy will then be delivered to you in the second half of November.


Enquiries to graham dot mayhew at btopenworld.com


10.  Lewes History Group A.G.M. & membership renewal for 2014

A short A.G.M. will precede our December meeting, on Monday 9 December. If you would like to be put your name forward to join our committee please contact us. Deadline for nominations is 22 November 2013.

Current memberships expire at the end of the year. Membership rates for 2014 are unchanged (£8 for the first member, and £4 each for others at the same address). You can renew at our November, December and January meetings, paying by cash or cheque and collecting your new membership card(s) on the spot. If you’re unable to attend any of these meetings, you’ll also be able to renew by bank transfer, and we’ll be emailing you about that later in the year.


11.  Nevill History Group                                                             (by Ann Holmes)

We welcome anyone interested in the History of the Nevill to a Nevill Shares event at St Mary’s Church Hall (corner of Highdown Road and Sheepfair) on Sunday November 10th between 3- 5 pm. There will be tea and cakes and an opportunity to scan old photographs and documents so that we can begin a collection for the archives. Cakes, scanners and tea-makers welcome! Please contact Sarah at sarahhitchings at live.co.uk or 07724134054 if you are able to help with any of these.


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

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





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