Lewes History Group: Bulletin 54, January 2015

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  1.   Next Meeting, Monday 12 January: Geoffrey Mead ‘Sussex Industrial History’
  2. LHG Committee Secretary needed
  3. Lewes Postcards on Ebay
  4. Lewes Brewers and Innkeepers, 1867 Kelly’s Directory
  5. Lewes merchant robbed on Chailey Common
  6. Military Cyclists
  7. Problems with the Traffic Lights at Library Corner


  1. Next Meeting 7.00 p.m. for 7.30 p.m.                        Monday 12 January              Geoffrey Mead            Sussex Industrial History: a different perspective

The geography of Sussex has dictated where its industries have been located. These range from pre-historic flint mines and the armament trades of the 16th century with their furnaces and forges to the Victorian industries of our county’s urban centres. These have left their impact on the present landscape, as the tranquil hammer-ponds of today, remembered in such Wealden place-names as Furnace Farm and Forge Lane. The industries of the Low Weald, bricks and potteries, glass and tanning, have a lower profile in historical research yet employed large numbers of workers in the past, and brick making is still an economic factor in the county. Lewes itself was an industrial town well within living memory, while the spoil heaps of our Victorian lime kilns have become the jewel in the crown of the EU-protected Lewes Downs Special Area of Conservation.

As usual the meeting will be at the King’s Church building, Brooks Road, and all will be welcome. Coffee and biscuits will be served from 7 pm.


  1. LHG Committee Secretary needed


  1. Lewes Postcards on Ebay


The Prince of Wales, Malling Hill, with Malling Mill in the background.


Jireh Chapel, seen from Malling Street. Both these postcards were from Tony Durrant’s Lewes collection.


  1. Lewes Brewers and Innkeepers, 1867 Kelly’s Directory


  • Beard Edward & Son, brewers, Fisher street
  • Elmsley Alexander, brewer, maltster, wine, spirit & cider merchant, agent for Bass’s & Allsopp’s pale ales & Guinness’s stout, Cliffe brewery, Malling street
  • Harvey & Son, wine & spirit merchants, brewers & coal merchants, High street, Cliffe
  • Hillman John & Alfred, brewers, maltsters & farmers, Southdown brewery, Cliffe
  • Leney Isaac (exors. of), brewer, South street, Cliffe
  • Monk Edward & Sons, brewers & maltsters, Bear yard, High street, Cliffe
  • Morris Ann (Mrs.), brewer, High street, Southover
  • Verrall William, brewer & maltster, Southover


Only named establishments are listed below – there were additionally nearly 40 beer retailers, in all parts of the town, and a wine merchant or two. A high proportion of the named establishments are still with us today, nearly 150 years later. Only four of the named establishments qualified to be described as hotels – the Bear, the Crown, the Star and the White Hart.

  • Bear hotel & commercial house, High street, Cliffe: Sydney Hamilton Adey.
  • Black Horse, High street, St. Anne’s: George Cox
  • Brewers’ Arms, 91 High street: John Garrett
  • Crown hotel & commercial inn, & wine & spirit merchant, & sole agent for Lewes & neighbourhood for Marshall’s Hungarian brandy, High street: Henry Wingham
  • Dolphin, St. Nicholas lane: John James Geering
  • Dorset Arms, North street, Cliffe: Mrs Keziah Potter
  • Elephant & Castle, White hill: John Diplock
  • Fountain, South street, Cliffe: Thomas Packham
  • George inn, & post & job master, fly proprietor & livery stables, Friar’s walk & Waterloo place: Robert Whiteman Baker
  • King’s Head, High street, Southover: John Goldsmith
  • Lamb, Fisher street: George Frederick Foster
  • Lewes Arms, Brach mount: Walter Smith
  • Lewes Castle, High street, Cliffe: Jonathan May
  • Old Station inn, 1 Friars’ walk: John Joseph Newnham
  • Pelham Arms, High street, St. Anne’s: Thomas Read
  • Prince of Wales, South Malling hill: Samuel Charles Payne
  • Rising Sun, Brighton road: George Anderson
  • Royal Oak, & billiard room, Station st: Chas. Howard Ellis
  • Running Horse, High street, St. Anne’s: Albert Tompsett
  • Ship, South street, Cliffe: Richard Botton
  • Snow Drop, South street, Cliffe: Edmund Geering
  • Stag, North street: Thomas Abrahams
  • Star family hotel, commercial inn & posting house, & proprietor of the corn & hop exchange & assembly rooms, & wine & spirit merchant, High street: Robert Geer
  • Swan, North street, Cliffe: Henry Ellis
  • Swan, Southover: George Charles Hollebone
  • Thatched House, South street, Cliffe: Richard Simmonds
  • Wheatsheaf, Malling Street, Cliffe: George Burton
  • White Hart hotel, High street: Mrs Ellen Stenning
  • White Lion, Westgate street: William Jenner


  1. Lewes merchant robbed on Chailey Common

Source: ‘Smuggling in the British Isles: a History’, by Richard Platt (2006)

“Richard Savage was indicted [at the Sussex assizes] for stealing out of the Lewes waggon twenty-two yards three-quarters of scarlet cloth, twenty-six yards of blue cloth, the property of Thomas Friend, of Lewes, and a box, in which were contained two silk gowns and two guineas, the property of a person unknown, on April 5th, 1748.

Mr. Friend deposed that he knew his servant put up the cloth, and ordered it to be carried to the waggon. William Brown, servant to Mr. Friend, deposed that he delivered the cloth to the carrier’s man. Matthew Comber, the carrier’s man, said he received the cloth from the last witness. That on the 5th of April last he was set to watch the waggon all night at Chailey; that two men came up to him about ten o’clock at night, enquiring what waggon it was; on his telling them, they took him away about two hundred yards from the waggon, where one of them kept him prisoner with a pistol at his breast; that then came up seven more men, who got off their horses, and left them at some distance from the waggon, with one man to take care of them. That the rest of the men went up to the waggon, and cut the cords, threw off some wool- packs, and then threw some boxes and other goods out of the waggon; that they broke open the boxes, took out the goods, loaded their horses, and went away.

Thomas Winter, otherwise the Coachman, an accomplice, deposed that on the 5th of April, he and Shoemaker Tom, with the prisoner at the bar and several others, met at Deval’s house at Bird’s Hole, and agreed to go out and rob a waggon that was loaded with wrecked goods; that about ten o’clock at night they came all together upon Chailey Common, where they took the carrier’s man prisoner, and one of them kept him so, while the rest went and rifled the waggon. That they broke open several boxes and parcels, and took away a large parcel of scarlet cloth, and another large parcel of blue cloth, and a box with two silk gowns and two guineas in it, with other goods. That after they had loaded their horses they rode away to Bird’s Hole, near Devil’s Ditch, where they shared the goods; that the prisoner at the bar was with them in the robbery, and had a share of the goods.

Thomas Dixon, otherwise Shoemaker Tom, another accomplice, deposed that he and Winter, and several others, met together at Deval’s house, at Bird’s Hole, and agreed to go and rob the waggon, as mentioned by the last evidence; that there they laid hold of the carrier’s man, took him some distance from the waggon, and set one of their number as a guard over him; that they then plundered the waggon, and took the cloth and other things mentioned in the indictment; that having loaded their horses, they made the best of their way to Bird’s Hole, and in a ditch near that place they divided the spoil.

Being asked by the court if the prisoner at the bar was with them at the time of their committing the robbery, said he believed he was, but was not sure; but that he was very sure that he was present at the time of sharing the goods, and that he had his share in the dividend; and that this witness sold his share to the last evidence, Thomas Winter.

The prisoner in his defence denied being any ways concerned in the robbery; but had no witnesses to call to contradict the facts as sworn by the witnesses for the prosecution. The jury brought him in Guilty of single felony. Transportation.

Mr. Friend, the prosecutor of Savage, laid the indictment for single felony, because he did not care to take life away; but the trial had not been over an hour, before he was informed by Winter and Shoemaker Tom that Savage had been concerned with them in many things, and that when Savage lived as a servant to Mr. Friend’s brother, to look after and manage a farm for him, that was fallen upon his hands by a tenant leaving it, that Savage used to entertain them all, which was a gang of about twelve or thirteen, where they used to come with their goods, and he found the horses in hay and corn, and them with victuals and drink; and they gave him tea and brandy for it, which he sold for his own use. He received sentence of transportation, but is ordered to be stopped in order to be tried next assizes for another fact.”

It is common in the trials of the day to have one man convicted, perhaps of a capital offence, on the evidence of others, equally guilty, who had turned King’s Evidence, and thereby got off scot free. If you annoyed smugglers such as the Coachman and Shoemaker Tom in any way, might they turn on you, as they turned on Richard Savage above, and allege that you were responsible for their crimes? The defendant could not, at this time, give evidence himself. One can understand why any local people not actually involved in the smuggling gangs might nevertheless decide to keep very quiet about what they knew.


  1. Military Cyclists

An editorial in the 3 March 1893 Sussex Express (provided by Hilary Smith) saw the potential offered by the newly-popular bicycles to improve the defence of the realm.

“A word to the young men of Lewes who go in for wheeling. Follow the example so nobly set by the members of the Lewes Cycling Club, and become citizen volunteers, and make your cycling pastime a means of patriotic duty as one of the local cycling section. There’s not only the enjoyment to be derived from the exercise so dear to wheelmen, but there’s martial glory in prospect. That the movement to thus add to the ranks of the local rifle corps will be advantageous no one can gainsay, while a stimulus is provided for members of the cycling club to gain military knowledge, and so be able by rapid movement on their machines to further assist the great end for which the volunteer force was originally organised. Who is there among the members of the cycling club who will follow in the wake of those whose caps are set high, and who are doubtless, in spirit, on the high road to achieving the glory which many a Tommy Atkins aims at – commandant of the battalion?”


  1. Problems with the Traffic Lights at Library Corner

Source: 21 July 1933 Sussex Express

Two more cases came before the Bench on Tuesday in which motorists were summoned for ignoring the automated traffic signals at Library Corner. In each case it was pleaded that the defendants were unaware that the signals had been installed, and they were looking for the policeman who was formerly on point duty to give them directions. It will be remembered that at a previous Court the Bench asked that the attention of the responsible authorities should be called to the necessity for warning signals that the automatic signals are in operation, but it appears the representation has been turned down. Under the circumstances the Bench dismissed the cases on payment of costs.”

Library Corner was by the Fitzroy Library, at the bottom of School Hill.


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

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John Kay

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