Lewes History Group: Bulletin 103, February 2019

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  1. Next Meeting:  11 February 2019: Helen Poole ‘Thomas Cromwell & the Dissolution
  2. Paddock Road and Lewes Castle (from John Davey)
  3. Thomas Henwood, Lewes Artist, and his family
  4. Some examples of Thomas Henwood’s Art
  5. Abinger Place
  6. Travelling up to Town


  1. Next Meeting              7.00 p.m. for 7.30 p.m.                     Monday 11 February

Helen Poole – Thomas Cromwell and the Dissolution of the Sussex Monasteries

The dissolution of the monasteries marked one of the most dramatic changes in English history. Thomas Cromwell, one of the most enigmatic figures of Henry VIII’s reign, was the mastermind, having seen the process at first hand at Bayham Abbey. All 17 Sussex religious houses were to suffer, with Cromwell being granted Michelham and Lewes Priories. However, his promotion of Anne of Cleves as a wife for his temperamental king meant that he did not live to see the benefits.

Helen Poole has been actively involved with Lewes Priory Trust since 1991 and worked at Michelham Priory for ten of those years, so she approaches this critical aspect of Tudor history with great enthusiasm.

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.


  1. Paddock Road & Lewes Castle (photograph from John Davey)

Paddock Road and Lewes Castle photo c. 1890

This photograph was taken c.1890 from where The Avenue has now been built.


  1. Thomas Henwood, Lewes Artist, and his family

Thomas Henwood was born in Brighton on 7 December 1797 and baptised at St Nicholas church there six months later. He had moved to Lewes by March 1819, when he married Ellen Sophia Peckham at Cliffe church. She was just 18 and a native of Cliffe, so the marriage required the consent of her parents. Her father George Peckham was described variously as a music master and a dealer in music and musical instruments. He already lived and worked at 36 Cliffe High Street when Ellen Sophia was born, and purchased this property and the adjoining 35 Cliffe High Street in 1805. George Peckham appears as one of the bandsmen in the Archibald Archer picture of the 1830 visit of King William IV and Queen Adelaide to The Friars, Lewes – he is number 80 in the key in Sarah Bayliss, ‘The Lewes Town Hall Pictures’ (2018).

I have not established where Thomas & Ellen Sophia Henwood lived as a young married couple. No infant baptisms have been identified for any of their children born in the 1820s. They may not have believed in the practice, as their son Thomas James born in 1824 was baptised as an adult in Stepney. In the 1851 census, when Thomas James was a coach painter living in Poplar, Middlesex, he gave his birthplace as Seaford. Their daughter Mary Ann, born c.1822, gave her birthplace as Lewes in 1851 but Seaford in 1871. Two other sons born in the later 1820s, George Felix and Edward Augustus, always gave their birthplaces as Lewes in the censuses. Thomas & Ellen Sophia Henwood occupied one of the first three houses to be built in Waterloo Place in 1828, but had moved on by 1830. They were at 4 Mount Pleasant in 1828, but there were different occupiers there in 1825 and 1832. By 1841 they had moved to 13 Keere Street, and both their daughter Emily, born about 1832, and their last child Edwin James, born in 1843 were baptised together at St Michael’s on 14 April 1843. Thomas Henwood lived in Keere Street for the rest of his life. He died in Keere Street in March 1861 and was buried at St Michael’s, aged 63.

Thomas Henwood was a professional artist, painting in both oil and watercolour. In the 1851 census he elaborated that he engaged in the portraiture of both people and animals, and some of his best-known works include horses, hounds and prize-winning livestock. While it was Archibald Archer who was commissioned to record the scene when King William IV and Queen Adelaide visited Lewes in 1830 to be greeted by the principal citizens, Thomas Henwood was also there, and published a separate print of the royal procession arriving at The Friars. When Thomas Walker Horsfield published his ‘History, Antiquities and Topography of Sussex’ in 1835, a number of the engravings were based on Henwood’s originals. Thomas Henwood was active through the 1830s, 1840s and 1850s, available for commissions, and he would record your event, portray your country house, or paint either your own portrait or that of your horse or your prize-winning livestock. Examples of his work are shown below.

I have found references to seven children born to Thomas and Ellen Sophia Henwood, though as the only reference to their eldest daughter Ellen is a report in an 1851 Sussex Advertiser of her marriage to a Frenchman in Paris there may well have been others I have missed altogether. Their daughter Mary Ann married a London man at St Michael’s in 1843 when she was aged 20, and by 1851 she was a young widow living in Southwark. She had at least one son. Thomas and Ellen Sophia’s son Thomas James, presumably from his name the eldest son, had also left for the London area by 1851 and did not return.

Next came two more sons who are better recorded, George Felix and Edward Augustus. Their ages are inconsistent from census to census, but both were born in Lewes c.1827-1829. George Felix Henwood remained in Lewes until his death in 1905, and perhaps through his mother’s influence became a musician. In 1851 he was a professor of music aged 24, living in Keere Street with his parents. By 1861 he had become a lodger in the High Street, and was called a music master. The 1867 local directory calls him a teacher of music and gives his address as 93 High Street [Westgate House]. Also at Westgate House were master draper William Payne and his family, including his unmarried daughters who ran a school there. His eldest daughter Elizabeth, a few years older than George Felix Henwood, was also described as a professor of music in 1851 and a music teacher in 1861. Elizabeth Payne was in her late thirties when the two music teachers married, and there were no children. In 1871 the couple still lodged with Elizabeth’s parents, but by 1881 George Felix was head of the household and had retired from music teaching. Instead he busily acquired a portfolio of rented houses and shops, and at his death at Westgate House in 1905 he was described in the Sussex Express as one of the largest owners of house property in Lewes. In addition to a number of High Street premises he owned 12 houses on Keere Street and Keere Hill Passage, 10 houses on Priory Street, 6 houses on Western Road and others in St Anne’s Crescent, Sun Street, West Street, North Street, Friars Walk, Lansdowne Place and Grange Road. His properties were inherited by his wife Elizabeth, who died in 1907, and then by her sister Mary Anne, who always lived with them and survived until 1915, before passing to family trustees who disposed of them before and during World War II.

It isn’t clear whether Edward Augustus Henwood was younger than his brother George Felix (as the 1841, 1861 & 1871 censuses suggest) or older (as the 1851 & 1881 censuses tell us). They are never given the same age, so were presumably not twins. In 1851 he was said to be 25 and a journeyman printer-compositor, learning his trade with one of the local newspaper publishers. By 1861 he had married and moved to Clerkenwell, and aged 32 had established his own business as a newspaper printer in the City of London. The business prospered, and he moved to Horn Lane, Woodford, West Ham. By 1881, in his early fifties, he had retired from business. His sons who lived into the 1940s became the trustees for George Felix Henwood’s Lewes property estate.

Thomas & Ellen Sophia Henwood’s youngest daughter Emily was born about 1832, and in 1854 she was married at Brighton to James Brent Price. He was the youngest son of a Surrey gentleman, who had established himself as a Horsham draper. They had several children born in Horsham, but by 1861 had moved to Shoreditch. By 1871 Emily Price was a young widow living in Hackney with her two Horsham-born daughters, while a son was training as a bookseller and stationer with an uncle in Horsham, a business to which he later succeeded. However her husband James Brent Price re-appears in the early 20th century after an absence of some decades. He is listed in a Hackney electoral register in 1905-1907, as a lodger occupying a second floor room at a rent of four shillings a week. In the 1911 census he is a widower aged 85, a retired draper lodging with a Horsham household and there is a June 1917 death registration in the Horsham registration district for James B. Price aged 91.

Perhaps the saddest story is that of Thomas and Ellen Sophia’s youngest son, Edwin James, born a decade after the others in 1843. He was baptised at St Michael’s a few weeks later – their only child with an identified infant baptism. In the 1861 census, immediately after his father’s death, he was a draper’s assistant lodging at 15 Keere Street with the builder and cooper Edward Pullinger. The 1871 census finds him in Islington, aged 27 and described as a printer, and with a London-born wife Isabella. By 1878 he and his wife had returned to Lewes, and he was a master draper at 93 High Street. In 1879 they had their only daughter, Isabella Victoria, baptised at St Michael’s church, though she had been born 8 years earlier in London. Sadly the 18 August 1888 Sussex Express records the suicide of 17 year old Isabella Victoria Henwood, and a diary kept by a Keere Street resident explains that she had jumped from the edge of the Southerham chalkpit after an argument with her  parents about her acquaintance with a young man from St John’s Street. A few years later the former draper Edwin James Henwood was admitted to St Francis Hospital, Haywards Heath at the charge of the Lewes Union, suffering from mania. He died there in 1900.

After she was widowed Ellen Sophia Henwood seems to have moved between her children’s households. In 1861, immediately after Thomas Henwood’s death, she was in Clerkenwell with her son Edward Augustus’s family. In 1871 she was in the Islington household of her widowed daughter Mary Ann, while in 1881 she was back in Lewes with her son George Felix. Her death at the age of 84 was recorded in 1885 in the Hackney registration district.

Sources: Familysearch website; Colin & Judy Brent’s Lewes & Cliffe House Histories; British Newspaper Archive; and The Keep online catalogue.


  1. Some examples of Thomas Henwood’s Art

Thomas Henwood’s most widely encountered works are lithographs of his original oil paintings or watercolours. His more popular works were published as lithographs, sometimes created by himself but more often engraved by others. Several of his lithographs were used to illustrate Thomas Walker Horsfield’s ‘History, Antiquities and Topography of the County of Sussex’ published in 1835, and one of these, a portrait of the Earl of Abergavenny, is preserved at the National Portrait Gallery. Probably the most frequently encountered elsewhere is his print of the 1853 Bonfire Boys procession outside County Hall, already reproduced in Bulletin no.100. Much of his original artwork was portraits of local gentry or tradesmen, or pictures of animals valued by their owners, so not especially likely to survive after their demise. Nevertheless, there is a portrait of a well known local cricket scorer at Lords, and there are a number of survivors in local collections. His works do appear at intervals on the art market. Some examples appear below.

Thomas Henwood print of royal visit, Lewes, 1830

Thomas Henwood’s print above of the Royal carriage procession arriving at The Friars when King William IV and Queen Adelaide visited Lewes in 1830. The Bow Windows bookshop had a copy for sale last year.

Image at the Lewes Priory website

An 1832 engraving by Thomas Henwood (above) shows the Great Gate to Lewes Priory. This image of the engraving is at the Lewes Priory website.

A number of copies of this print of the Glyndebourne Harriers (which flourished from 1844 to 1848) survive in Ringmer, showing George Bodle the huntsman (and later landlord of the Anchor Inn) on his horse Pilot. Most copies are in black and white, but this one is coloured.

Thomas Henwood print of George Bodle of Glyndebourne Harriers, 1840

The 1845 image below, at Artnet, shows Richard King Sampson with his horse Old Druid, and in the middle distance the huntsman John Press.

Image at Artnet

Below is an oil painting in a local private collection of the Southdown Hunt Steeplechases held in 1857 near Broyle Mill Farm.

Thomas Henwood painting of Southdown Hunt Steeplechases, 1857

Below are some Henwood portraits. One dated ‘55’ of two children, sold at Christies for £2,750 in 2011:

Image at Artnet

one of Mrs Edward Minshall:

Image at ArtUK

and one of a prize bull painted in 1856:

Image at Artnet

[All images marked as ‘At Lewes Priory website’, ‘At Artnet’ or ‘At ArtUK’ are links to those websites, and have not been downloaded by the Lewes History Group]


  1. Abinger Place

Abinger Place, Lewes by J.B. Blight 1992

This attractive oil on board of Abinger Place was offered for sale at Gorringe’s weekly sale on 21 January. The painting was signed by J.B. Blight and dated ’92. The date was presumably, from the aerials and overhead wires, 1992, but the artist was lucky to catch Abinger Place without parked cars. The estimated sale price was £60-£80.


  1. Travelling up to Town

The 9 May 1785 Sussex Advertiser reported that the Lewes and Brighthelmston machines set out from Brighthelmston every morning at six o’clock and took on passengers at Lewes at a quarter to eight travelling to the Golden Cross at Charing Cross. The return journey left the Golden Cross every morning at 6 o’clock.

By 1785 Brighton was already established as a coastal resort, and it rather than Lewes had become the principal destination for coach traffic from London. Only some of the Brighton coach services passed through Lewes, as other routes had also been established. Travel times to London had been greatly improved since earlier in the century. The turnpikes established twenty years previously meant that the journey could now be completed in a single day. Nevertheless, in 1785 it still took more than an hour and a half to cover the ten miles from Brighton to Lewes. 


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
The Arts Society: Uckfield & Lewes – meets 2nd Wed. Guests £7 per talk

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


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