Lewes History Group: Bulletin 43, February 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 10 February: Lewis Orchard, ‘Stephen Steere’s House’
2.    Stephen Steere’s House, 1 North Street
3.    Lewes History Group membership
  Houses on Lewes Bridge?
5.    Butcher’s business changes hands
Cast Iron Columns at Lewes Railway Station (by John Hollands)
John Thomas Case, Lewes photographer (by David Simkin)
St Anne’s Villas, Lewes
9.    Could you be ‘Rouser’?
10.  Lewes WEA Courses (by Judith Davies)


1.   Next Meeting              7.00 p.m. for 7.30 p.m.                   Monday 10 February

Lewis Orchard                 Stephen Steere’s House

Number 1 North Street is a unique town house built in 1805/06 for baker Stephen Steere. The building and its interiors have survived almost entirely unchanged, and it has been the subject of a 12-year conservation and restoration project, carried out by Lewis and now nearing completion. It features a very unusual black-glazed mathematically-tiled bow window, a ‘potato patch’ cobbled and tiled frontage, and an 1860 shop front. Inside will be a display of artefacts discovered during the conservation work and a display explaining the history of the house and its occupants. There will also be information about work that was undertaken to conserve the fabric of the structure, as well as the interiors. It includes the remains of the original bakehouse oven.

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.   Stephen Steere’s House, 1 North Street

Stephen_Steers_House_Lewes Copyright Lewis Orchard

© Lewis Orchard


3.   Lewes History Group Membership

Our membership secretary reports that, against a final 2013 History Group membership of 172, we already have 134 members for 2014, including over 20 new members. Our hope is to reach 200.

This Bulletin is circulated to members only. We shall soon be switching over to the 2014 list for distribution purposes, so if you wish to continue to receive this Bulletin, please do contact Neil Merchant, our membership secretary,  or catch him at our next meeting.


4.   Houses on Lewes Bridge?

Henry, vicar of Ringmer, who died in 1275, seems to have spent his life accumulating parcels of land and houses in different parts of the archiepiscopal manor of South Malling the hope of founding a chantry in what was then the chapel of Ringmer, which belonged to South Malling College. There is a long list of these small properties in his will. One entry in this list, translated from the Latin, reads: “The houses and possessions which I hold of the Lord Archbishop upon the bridge of Lewes”. This conjures up an unlikely image of the bridge across the Ouse as a mini-version of old London Bridge, or the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, solid and wide enough to be lined with a superstructure of houses and shops.

A 1285 custumal of the Archbishop’s manor of South Malling adds some perspective. Despite Henry’s long list of acquisitions, his properties proved of insufficient value, and the friend and colleague he had nominated as his first chantry priest declined the role. The custumal (translated from the Latin) records that the Archbishop then appropriated his properties to the use of the sacrist of South Malling College. Henry’s former properties are all recorded, and under ‘Clyve’ it notes that “Henry, formerly vicar of Ryngemer, bought in the vill of Clive 5 messuages with curtilages and 2 shops”, which he bequeathed to his chantry. Henry’s properties are listed along with about 40 others in ‘Clyve’, seven of which were held by the Canons of South Malling College and another by the College sacrist. One of the manorial tenants in the vill is called ‘William super Pontem’. This vill had very little land, apart from ‘curtlages’, though one wealthy tenant with land throughout the manor held 10 acres of land on the Downs (with a kiln) and another a small brook of less than an acre. Two other tenants also had a kiln, and a few other shops are mentioned.

In later years at least the bridge over the Ouse was the joint responsibility of the two Rapes of Lewes and Pevensey, separated by the river. Vicar Henry’s houses were held of the Archbishop, not of the Lords of Lewes, so must have been on the Cliffe side. As the Cliffe itself appears to have been an artificial causeway, presumably constructed at the behest of one of the Archbishops, perhaps it is this causeway that Henry referred to in his will as “the bridge”?

Sources: The 1285 custumal has been published, in translation, as Sussex Record Society volume 57.


5.   Butcher’s business changes hands

Source: 10 June 1811 Sussex Weekly Advertiser

 “WM. FULLER, owing to ill health, being unable to carry on his late business of a BUTCHER, in the High-Street of LEWES, begs leave to return his sincere thanks to his numerous friends, for the liberal support and encouragement which he and his father have for many years past experienced; and having disposed of his concern to Mr. PETER DANDY, he now solicits a continuance of the favour, of those Friends and Customers in behalf of the said Mr Peter Dandy. All persons having any demands on Mr. W. FULLER, are requested to deliver the same to Mr. R. Lambe, Auctioneer, Lewes; to whom all persons standing indebted to the said Estate, are required to pay their respective debts, he being authorised to receive the same.”


6.   Cast Iron Columns at Lewes Railway Station                    (by John Hollands)

The two images below are from a beautiful book produced by Every’s Iron Works I found in Lewes Library. It did not appear to be dated, but I would say it probably dates from the 1890s. There are illustrations of work being done in the Lewes foundry and of commissions in situ (“Railway work a speciality”). It also serves as a catalogue of the different designs of lamp posts, columns, etc, that were being produced. Lewes station must have been a good advertisement for Every’s, as no doubt many potential clients coming to do business with the iron works would come by train.



Advertisements include one for Suttons Seeds, still with us today.


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

Both John Thomas Case and his wife Margaret [see Bulletins nos.41 & 42] originated from Scotland. John Thomas Case was born around 1819 and his wife Margaret McGlashen c.1832. An amateur, self-taught, photographer, he published his “Photographic Views of Lewes” with the help and encouragement of Mark Antony Lower, the Sussex historian, in 1857. In the following year, 1858, the couple married in Hackney. At the time of his marriage, John Thomas Case was working for a local tailor in Lewes. In 1859, John Thomas Case is recorded at an address in Western Road, St Anne’s. The 1861 census records him as a ‘tailor’s foreman’ residing with his wife at 2 Western Road, Lewes. By 1865, Mr and Mrs Case were residing at 6 St Anne’s Terrace, Lewes.

Please see: http://www.photohistory-sussex.co.uk/Lewes_Photographers_C.htm for further information about Mr & Mrs Case and other Lewes photographers. Some of the Lewes photographs published in 1857 are illustrated on this Sussex Photohistory website.


8.   St Anne’s Villas, Lewes


This fine Edwardian postcard view looking from Juggs Lane towards St Anne’s Terrace and the town cemetery was offered for sale on ebay last year. It was the subject of very competitive bidding. I don’t suppose the new owner is one of our members?


9.     Could you be ‘Rouser’?

Rupert Taylor, chief Lewes reporter for the Sussex Express, has told Jane Lee, who manages the History Group’s publicity and PR, that John Eccles is retiring from his long-held role writing the ‘Rouser’ local history column in the newspaper. They are now seeking someone new to fulfil this role, writing amusing stories about the history of the Lewes area. Rupert adds “There’s no money in it, I’m afraid, but bags of glory!”


 10.  Lewes WEA Courses                                                             (by Judith Davies)

Attached below are advertisements for two Lewes W.E.A. courses being held this spring to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War. Detailed posters, including costs and booking details, are attached at the end of this Bulletin (pages 6-7).

The first, on conscientious objectors, will be tutored by Helen Kramer and held over five Wednesday afternoons starting on 19th March 2014. It will be appropriately located at the Friends Meeting House, Friars Walk.

The second, on the soldier-composers in the Great War, will be a day school tutored by Robert Carrington held on the afternoon of Saturday 12th April 2014, at St Thomas’s Church Hall, Cliffe High Street.

 WEA_course_Troublesome_People poster


WEA_day_school_Composers_and_the_First_World_War poster

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








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