Lewes History Group: Bulletin 61, August 2015

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. No August meeting
  2. A Coronation Mug
  3. Anglo-Saxon Culture and Belief
  4. Lewes postcards on Ebay
  5. The Malling Footbridges (by Barbara Merchant)
  6. The Sheep Fair (by John Hawkins)
  7. Cholera in the Workhouse
  8. Banks in Lewes in 1934
  9. SAS Conference: Artists and the Sussex Landscape
  10. Lewes Heritage Open Days


  1. No evening meeting in August

Our next meeting will be at 7.00 p.m. for 7.30 p.m. on Monday 14 September, when Stephanie Smith, the Finds Liaison Officer for this area, will speak on ‘The Portable Antiquities Scheme for the Lewes Area’.


  1. A Coronation Mug

This mug to celebrate the coronation of King George V was distributed by the Borough of Lewes, presumably to local children. The reverse carries the Borough’s arms and the name of the mayor at that time, Alderman George Holman, who was the author of ‘Some Lewes Men of Note’. This particular mug was sold on ebay a few years ago. Are there many others still in Lewes?

KGV_Coronation_mug_front KGV_Coronation_mug_reverse_


  1. Anglo-Saxon Culture and Belief

This course of 8 meetings over two terms, tutored by Sussex Archaeological Society member Dr Geoff Doel, will be held from 2.00 to 4.00 p.m. on Mondays, in the Friends Meeting House, Friars Walk, starting on 28 September 2015. The cost will be £80 for 8 weeks, reduced to £70 for SAS or Lewes History Group members. To enrol email Geoff Doel, geoffdoel [at] btinternet.com, or contact him by phone at 01227 785882.


  1. Lewes postcards on Ebay                       


This postcard featuring Shelleys, High Street, St Anne’s, looks like a Cheetham image.


This postcard showing a Sussex shepherd on the Downs in front of the Kingston 6-sail windmill was posted in 1911. The shepherd held his pose, but his dog moved!


  1. The Malling Footbridges                                                  (by Barbara Merchant)

Over the centuries, the various owners of Malling Deanery built a succession of foot bridges over the River Ouse from their grounds to Lewes. They ensured that they also owned the opposite bank, and a section of this was known as Bridge Brook for this reason.

These private bridges were for their own convenience, giving them a short-cut into Lewes. However they allowed parishioners to use it on Sundays to get from Lewes to South Malling Church, which saved them a long walk. It is said that the last owner of the whole Malling Deanery estate, Robert Lamdin fell out with the Vicar, and kept the gates to the bridge locked on Sundays, thus inconveniencing the Vicar’s flock.


The old wooden bridge was built in 1868 by Edmund Currey, and repaired in 1888. For a while, it was known as “Admiral Currey’s Bridge”, after Admiral Bernard Currey, a son of Edmund Currey. A photograph in the 2 November 1934 Sussex Express (below) shows that by then it had become decrepit, although this did not prevent an intrepid lady from making use of it. It was removed once the new bridge was built.

Reproduced by kind permission of the Sussex Express

The new 1934 bridge referred to in Bulletin no. 59 was a white suspension bridge, designed by the Lewes architects Wratten & Godfrey. It was situated near the end of Church Lane, whereas the old bridge was a little down river, near the cutting which now separates the Deanery garden from Riverdale. A Sussex Express photograph from the same edition as above shows the scaffolding for the new bridge, while a much clearer photograph provided by Sylvia Eade shows Wally Newman giving it a coat of white paint.


Photo reproduced from Lewes Past by kind permission of Sylvia Eade, daughter of Wally Newman

The opening of the public Willey’s Bridge in 1965 provided access from the town to South Malling Church, and also access to Lewes for the residents of the housing developments in Malling.

The white suspension bridge in its turn became old and decrepit, locked up and rusting, with its decking increasingly rotten. However, this did not stop the town’s youngsters playing on it, and continuing to use it to cross the river. It was taken down in the late 1970s, after the Malling Deanery estate had been broken up and sold off in lots. It is said that the remains of the bridge were taken to “a council yard” in Lewes. If anyone knows more about its final sad demise, please get in touch!

Sources: Brigid Chapman: ‘Chronicles of the Cliffe and South Malling’, the Sussex Express, Lewes Past members, Tom Crossett.


  1. The Sheep Fair                                                                                  (by John Hawkins)

Lewes_sheep_market_1938_Les_HonessI posted this photograph on the Sussex Past website in May. It features my grandfather Les Honess, who was clerk to the auctioneer John Carey of Thorntons, who ran the Lewes Cattle Market. It was taken up by the Prison, and shows the new houses on Hawkenbury Way in the background.

Les Honess is the man sitting on the right at the back. He worked for many, many years at Burtenshaws, and had an office in their building on the High Street, but spent a lot of his time at the cattle market and auction showrooms.

I think this photograph was taken about 1938. The sheep market continued to be held near the prison until the 1970s.


  1. Cholera in the Workhouse

The minutes of a Board of Guardians meeting for the Chailey Poor Law Union held on 7 October 1866 was informed that cholera had broken out in the Lewes Union workhouse for the able-bodied [in the Cliffe], so it had been decided that the children in the former St Anne’s parish workhouse should be removed elsewhere. The Lewes Guardians had asked the Chailey Union Guardians whether they would look after the children until it was considered safe for them to return. The Chailey Guardians considered the matter, and declined to help.

Source: Chailey Union Guardians’ minute book: ESRO/G2/1a/3


  1. Banks in Lewes in 1934
  • Barclays Bank Ltd (The Old Bank), High Street
  • Barclays Bank Ltd, 64 High Street
  • Lloyds Bank Ltd, 82 High Street
  • Midland Bank Ltd, 63 High Street
  • National Provincial Bank Ltd, 173 High Street
  • Westminster Bank Ltd, 59 High Street

Source: 1934 Local Directory (Pike’s Blue Book)


  1. SAS Conference: Artists and the Sussex Landscape

This Sussex Archaeological Society conference will be held at the King’s Church building, Lewes, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday 21 November. From about the mid-1700s artists from the Lamberts of Lewes, through Constable and Turner to Eric Ravilious have been inspired by the Sussex landscape. The ways they responded were of course very different at different dates.


This picture shows the entrance to Lewes Castle portrayed by James Lambert in 1776. The date is recorded because it was made after the old buildings around the Barbican had been taken down but before the new ones had been built.

Advance booking is essential if you wish to attend. (31.8.15: this event is now fully booked, but if you wish to be added to the waiting list, and to see further details, please go to the SAS website. Alternatively, contact Lorna Gartside, Bull House, 92 High Street, Lewes, BN7 1XH, phone 01273 405737 or email members [at] sussexpast.co.uk.)


  1. Lewes Heritage Open Days

This year’s Lewes Heritage Open Days will be on 10-13 September 2015. The 18 buildings that are open to the public on these dates include some that you are likely to be familiar with, but several you are unlikely to have visited before.


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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