Lewes History Group: Bulletin 42, January 2014

Please note: this Bulletin is being put on the website one month after publication. If you would like to receive the Bulletin by email as soon as it is published, please contact the Membership Secretary about joining the Lewes History Group, and to renew your membership at the start of the calendar year.

1.    Next Meeting, Monday 13 January: Samantha Carroll, Ale & Hearty
2.    The West Gate, from a Cigarette Card
  AGM report
A Cold Bath
Lewes from the Railway Station (by John Hollands)
6.   Rail Motor Service: Lewes-Seaford
John Thomas Case, Lewes photographer (by David Simkin)
8.    The Lewes Cycling Club
9.    Membership renewals
10.    Research Group Meeting, Monday 20 January: Matt Homewood


1.   Next Meeting              7.00 p.m. for 7.30 p.m.                   Monday 13 January

Dr Samantha Carroll        Ale & Hearty: the brewing industry in the Lewes area

Oral historian Dr Sam Carroll will cover some of the new insights that the Ale & Hearty project has revealed about the social and agricultural history of brewing in Lewes and the surrounding area, using examples of what has been collected over the project’s duration, from archives, published sources and oral history interviews. The project focuses on the history of brewing in Lewes and its related industrial and agricultural links over 200 years. It focuses on the community of Lewes, working life in relation to breweries, agricultural workers and rural life and trades. It also links in with abstinence and religious culture locally at the time, as well as a clear relation between trades and society through social clubs.

As usual the meeting will be at the King’s Church building, Brooks Road, and all will be welcome. We shall be serving coffee and biscuits prior to the meeting.

2.   The West Gate, from a Cigarette Card


This cigarette card was issued by John Player & Sons, part of the Imperial Tobacco Company, as no.3 in their ‘Celebrated Gateways’ series of 50 cards. It features the West Gate, pictured about 1800. The card notes that the West Gate was thought to have been built in the reign of Edward III. It was originally defended by two massive semi-circular towers, with arched, loopholed chambers.

3.   AGM report

  1. The reports by the chair, treasurer and other officers for 2013 were approved
  2. Election of officers for 2014. The following nominations were approved: chair, Ian McClelland; secretary, vacant; treasurer, Ron Gordon; membership secretary, Neil Merchant; committee, Ann Holmes; John Kay (programme); Jane Lee (communications); Barbara Merchant (website manager); Paul Waller.
  3. It was agreed to amend the terms of reference to adjust the Group’s financial year and include provision for the annual examination of the Group’s accounts.
  4. The recommendation that subscriptions should remain at £8 p.a. for the first member at each address and £4 p.a. for additional members at the same address was approved

4.   A Cold Bath

Source: 10 June 1811 Sussex Weekly Advertiser

 “COLD BATH, OF EXCELLENT SPRING WATER. OPPOSITE ALL SAINTS CHURCH, LEWES, (Considered to be one of the finest Springs in Sussex). Mr BOXALL, respectfully informs the Gentlemen of Lewes, and its vicinity, that HIS COLD BATH is now OPEN for reception, at One Guinea the Season — Reasonable Prices for Single Bathing. N. B. No Bathing on Sundays after Ten o’clock.”

5.   Lewes from the Railway Station                                              (by John Hollands)


I found this Edwardian picture postcard, postmarked 1906, at a postcard fair in Basingstoke on the Saturday following my talk to the Lewes History Group. The publisher was A.H. Homewood of Burgess Hill, who also produced the postcard of the railway station used to advertise my talk. It shows the view from the front of the station, looking across the road to where the sorting office was built later. On the extreme right hand edge you can see where the fence ends and the bridge over the London line begins.

6.    Rail Motor Service: Lewes-Seaford

Source: An undated newspaper cutting from a privately held 1905 scrapbook [in which many other cuttings date back to the late-Victorian era].

 “Sir: By the kindness of Mr Forbes, who sent me a proof sheet of time bill this morning, I find that on and from the 13th August the motor trains will run as under: Lewes to Newhaven and Seaford at 6.51 a.m., 8.40, 10.32, 11.50, 1.55, 4.36, 7.30, arriving at Southease and Rodmell halt about 8 minutes after, Newhaven 7 minutes later, then 10 minutes run to Seaford. Returning from Seaford at 7.20 a.m., 9.30, 11.10, 1.00, 3.20, 5.30, 8.00, arriving at Southease and Rodmell 16 minutes after, Lewes 9 minutes later. The cars are beautiful, commodious and comfortable and airy, and much more pleasant than the ordinary stuffy railway carriages, and a quick and delightful way of getting to Lewes, Newhaven and the sea. The Southease and Rodmell halt will give access to the beautiful Itford and Telscombe Downs, with their lovely views of the sea, the fine bracing air and the quaint and beautiful Downs churches of Rodemll, Piddinghoe, Telscombe, Tarring, Southease and Iford, and many local objects of interest, and will also give the inhabitants of the district facilities for business or pleasure at the towns or at the sea. 

Yours, J.B. Hawkesford, Rodmell Rectory, Lewes”

A railmotor was a rail vehicle for use when traffic was expected to be light, usually a single coach with an integrated steam engine. According to Wikipedia, the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway built only two such units, introduced in 1905. The Rev James Boen Hawkesford was rector of Rodmell from 1897 to his death in 1928. He is mentioned in the writings of Virginia Woolf, who described him (in his later years) as an old, decaying man, run to seed, shabby, dirty, with black wool mittens and a beard like an unweeded garden. Leonard Woolf noted “I never heard him say a word about religion or his work as a clergyman”.


7.   John Thomas Case, Lewes photographer                             (by David Simkin)

The item in Lewes History Bulletin no.41 about John Thomas Case’s bankruptcy in 1864 probably explains why his wife, Mrs Margaret Case, took over the running of Case’s photographic studio in around 1865. R. Simpson’s Directory of Lewes (1865) lists Mrs J. T. Case as a photographer at St Anne’s, Lewes. I have two cartes-de-visite by Mrs Case which carry the studio address “Mrs Case, St Anne’s, Lewes”. Presumably she was based at 6 St Anne’s Terrace.

Case_carte-de-visite_1 Case_Carte-de-visite_reverse  Case_Carte-de-visite_2

Two cartes-de-visite by Mrs Case, and the reverse of one of them

8.  The Lewes Cycling Club


This cabinet card of the Lewes Cycling Club was advertised for sale on ebay a few months ago. Cabinet cards, measuring 6½ x 4¼ inches, were larger than the early cartes de visite. Introduced in the 1860s, they continued to be produced into the early 20th century, but many date from the last two decades of Queen Victoria’s reign. The bicycle made a huge difference to the ability of town dwellers to explore the surrounding countryside, and enabled rural workers to commute more easily to employment in the town. Very popular with young men, they were also ridden by young women, but this Lewes Cycling Club outing appears to have been an all male event.

9.   Membership renewals

2014 membership renewals are now due. At the lecture on January 13th, you will have the opportunity to pay and collect your new membership cards, both before and after the meeting. We’d be very grateful if you could do this as it avoids the cost of having to post your new cards to you. After January’s meeting, we’ll be sending email reminders to all those who have not renewed, and after February’s meeting we’ll assume that any remaining members who have not renewed do not wish to do so, and their memberships will lapse.


10.   Research Group Meeting

A Research Group meeting will be held at the King’s Church Building on Monday 20 January when Lewes genealogist Matt Homewood will lead a discussion about the ‘ins and outs’ of genealogy and how best to investigate family histories.


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

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

This entry was posted in Art & Architectural History, Economic History, Lewes, Local History, Transport History. Bookmark the permalink.