Lewes History Group: Bulletin 131, June 2021

Please note: this Bulletin is being put on the website one month after publication. Alternatively you can receive the Bulletin by email as soon as it is published, by becoming a member of the Lewes History Group, and renewing your membership annually.

  1. Next Meeting: 14 June 2021, Sarah & Peter Earl, ‘The Stories of East Street & Albion Street
  2. The Sheffield Arms (by Angela Wigglesworth)
  3. The Railway Bridge across the High Street
  4. Motor Traffic on School Hill
  5. A flash in the pan: Victor Amedee Raymond’s lucky escape
  6. The British Queen, Lewes (by Heather Downie)
  7. The Southern Post Mill, Juggs Lane
  8. The Bakery at 61 Southover High Street (by Richard Pearson)
  9. Malling Mill and the Mill House
  10. Lewes Guardians advertisement for Medical Services

  

  1. Next Meeting               7.30 p.m.    Monday 14 June
    Sarah & Peter Earl    The Stories of East Street and Albion Street

East Street and Albion Street comprise what has been referred to as the first phase of ‘New Town’ development in Georgian Lewes. What was originally on the site? How did the land develop into streets? What was going on in Lewes at the time?  What has happened since the original builds?

To answer these questions Sarah and Peter Earl, long-standing residents of East Street, have been on a journey of discovery since 2018. Although neither are qualified in historical research they were inspired by the work and findings of earlier researchers taking part in the LHG’s Street Stories project and took advantage of the training offered to LHG members. You are invited to see how far they have travelled up to, and since, their small Heritage Open Days exhibition in September 2019, and to learn what sources have proved most useful in piecing together a fascinating history.

This meeting will again be a Zoom webinar, and to attend you must register in advance. You will then be able to join the meeting from 7.20 pm. LHG members will be sent a link to register directly: non-members will need to purchase registration via https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/lhg.

 

  1. The Sheffield Arms                                       (by Angela Wigglesworth)

Wigglesworth, The Sheffield ArmsAngela Wigglesworth has recently published the story of the Sheffield Arms, A Sussex coaching inn on the A275, half a mile north of Sheffield Park and the Bluebell Railway, on one of the coach routes from Lewes to London. It was built by the first Lord Sheffield in 1779. Its guests included Australian cricketers whose tours of England in the 1880s and 1890s started at the nearby Sheffield Park, and the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) who was provided with lunch by the landlord when he came to watch the cricket in 1896. The British and Canadian troops stationed in Sheffield Park in World War II spent their evenings here. Dinner dances were held in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1997 the inn closed, after two centuries of service, and then re-opened as a retail showroom and art gallery. In 2021 it hopes to reopen as a boutique hotel for those attending live music concerts and weddings.

 

  1. The Railway Bridge across the High Street

There have been quite a few changes in this part of Lewes High Street since this photograph was taken around a century ago. There are still some landmarks that survive, like the baker’s shop in the left foreground, Dial House and Fitzroy House. The removal of the railway bridge and its embankment has made a very positive contribution to the townscape, while the Tabernacle, as imposing as its builders intended, somehow never looked quite at home in the heart of Lewes. This image comes from a postcard by an anonymous photographer that was recently offered  on ebay and the subject of enthusiastic bidding.

Railway bridge across Lewes High Street, postcard

The 1960s photograph below, posted by Nigel Coomber on the Lewes Past Facebook page, shows the view from close to the rear of the current Waitrose store after the demolition of the embankment carrying the Lewes-Uckfield railway across the High Street.

After demolition of embankment carrying Lewes-Uckfield railway

 

  1. Motor Traffic on School Hill

These two postcards show increasing levels of motor traffic on School Hill. The War Memorial and the School Hill Cinema have arrived, and the ladies’ clothes indicate inter-war dates. The five visible number plates all follow the pattern of two letters, indicating the county of registration, followed by four numbers. From 1932 the pattern of three letters followed by three numbers became increasingly common. The three vehicles with PN numbers were registered in East Sussex. PL was Surrey and YV London.

Traffic on Lewes High Street postcard

Traffic on Lewes High Street near War Memorial, postcard

 

  1. A flash in the pan: Victor Amedee Raymond’s lucky escape

Victor Amedee Raymond (c.1749-1820) was a Swiss Protestant, who married at St Clement Danes, Westminster, in 1782 and then moved to Lewes to establish a boarding school for young gentlemen where, according to an advertisement in the Sussex Weekly Advertiser, only the French language was allowed to be spoken on school premises. The school thrived. It was initially established in 1783 at 135 High Street in St Anne’s parish. In 1786 it moved to 174 High Street and then in 1789 moved again to grander premises on the corner of School Hill and Albion Street, 209 High Street. His wife Mrs Ann Raymond purchased these premises, which had once been the Turk’s Head and then the home of the doctor Thomas Frewen, and had a quarter of an acre of grounds for £1,200. The school then remained at 209 High Street until Mr Raymond’s death. He was a member of Westgate chapel, but was buried at All Saints on 18 October 1820. His will shows that he had by this date accumulated £2,200 in government stocks, and soon afterwards his widow sold the property for development for a further £2,100. He left a widow, a son also called Robert Amedee Raymond and two daughters.

In January 1805 Mr Raymond took into his household a young man called James Vaughan Everall, to serve the school as an usher. There he paid his addresses to his master’s eldest daughter, Marie Petroline. This was said later to have been without his master’s knowledge, and to have culminated in an elopement, but the formal record shows that the marriage took place at All Saints church, by licence, on 30 April 1805. The daughter soon came to regret her hasty decision, and ill-treatment led to her seeking the protection of her father’s house. The duration of the marriage was short, but it produced a son, Robert Raymond Everall, who was baptised at All Saints on 19 September 1806.

Two months later James Vaughan Everall arrived at 209 High Street demanding to see his wife and child. When he was denied admission he contacted a local magistrate, and eventually Mr Raymond agreed to allow him to enter the house providing the magistrate came with him. Everall was allowed to see his wife and child, and asked Marie Petronelle whether she would live with him again, if he could get the means to support her. She replied that she would, providing he did not mistreat her again. He then asked to speak to his wife alone, but when that request was refused he responded so outrageously that the magistrate ordered him out of the house.

He did leave, but returned secretly later that afternoon, finding his way in through an unlocked rear door. He then entered the parlour, where Victor Amedee Raymond was with a pupil, and with a cry of “Now, God Damn you” took a pistol from his pocket, pointed it at Mr Raymond and pulled the trigger. The pistol flashed in the pan, but the ball with which it was loaded was not fired. Mr Raymond attempted to wrest the pistol from his assailant, but was overpowered. A second attempt by Everell again failed to fire the ball and, the alarm being raised, he ran off.

The local constable, Thomas Whiteman, attended the scene and apprehended Everall at the end of Mr Raymond’s garden wall. When he attempted to arrest him Everall first pointed his pistol at the constable, and then pointed it at his own head before pulling the trigger for the third time. For the third time the pistol failed to fire.

The prisoner’s only defence when tried for attempted murder at the Sussex assizes was that he had intended only to kill himself in his wife’s presence, driven to desperation by Mr Raymond having “allured” his wife’s affections from him. Unsurprisingly the jury returned a guilty verdict. When sentenced he prayed for mercy, and asked to be “sent from England for ever”. The final outcome is not recorded. However, his baby son Robert Raymond Everall was buried at All Saints on 7 January 1807, just a few weeks after the events recorded above, and in Victor Amedee Raymond’s last will, written in 1820, his elder daughter is described as Marie Petroline Everall, widow.

Sources: Colin Brent, ‘Lewes House Histories’; FindMyPast & Familysearch websites; March 1807 New Annual Register.

 

  1. The British Queen, Lewes         (by Heather Downie)

L.S. Davey, in his book ‘The Inns of Lewes’ lists the British Queen, saying it is mentioned in a newspaper report in 1839,  but he had not been able to trace its exact location, other than to suggest it may have been in Malling Street. However, while researching the history of South Street I have found evidence that the British Queen was the original name of the Snowdrop Inn in South Street.

The Snowdrop Inn is in South Malling Parish, as is the southern third of South Street, the remainder being in Cliffe Parish. What is known of its foundation? An avalanche in December 1836 destroyed Boulder Row, seven small cottages in South Street, housing the South Malling Parish poor, killing eight. In December 1837 The churchwardens and overseers of South Malling parish sold the site to Thomas Berry and his brother James.  Between 1838 and 1839, Thomas Berry built on the site a public house and 5 cottages. His design for the pub was almost identical to that of the Railway Inn in Ringmer, which he built at about the same time. In the 1841 census Thomas Wymark (used interchangeably with Weymark), occupation ‘publican’, is listed in the place where we would expect to find the Snowdrop (although not named as such), and on 14t January 1845 the Sussex Advertiser reported on a ‘family fracas’ at Mr Weymark’s Snowdrop – the first report of this name I have encountered.

So now to the British Queen. On 2 September 1839 the Sussex Advertiser reports that Thomas Wymark, keeper of the British Queen beershop, South Street, South Malling (landlord Mr. T Berry) had made an application for a victualler’s license. Wymark declared that his house was the only one from the bridge to the end of town on the Eastbourne Road which had accommodation for wagons and other vehicles. His application was supported by the South Malling Poor Law Guardian, churchwardens and overseers. There was opposition to the license from competitors, who claimed there was no necessity for another licensed house, as there were already 7 public houses and 14 beer shops in Cliffe and South Malling. The case was adjourned.

The 16 September 1839 Sussex Advertiser reports that the case had come again before the Petty Sessions. It was then reported that Wymark had written to the magistrates on 9 September, saying he withdrew his application, but there was doubt as to the genuineness of the letter as only two days earlier he had signed a petition ‘praying for a license’.  Wymark was employed by Mr John Hillman, a ‘person of influence in the Parish’, and Hillman had indicated that Wymark had no intention of applying for a license. It was stated that the letter had been handed in by the son of John Hillman, who had stood over Wymark while he signed it. Wymark was not present in the court; his wife was called but said she did not know where her husband was. Mr John Langford  said he knew nothing of the letter but he was against the granting of the license as the British Queen as it would be within 140 yards of his own public house and would damage his trade.  It was decided to adjourn the hearing so Wymark could attend and clarify the circumstances under which he had signed the document. From 1832 John Langford owned the Old Ship in South Street (now number 49 South Street). The distance from there to the Snowdrop is slightly more than the 140 yards quoted but not far out.

In the same issue of the Sussex Advertiser a letter was published from Thomas Berry. He stated that the Cliffe Improvement Act allowed only loading or unloading by wagons and horses and there was, therefore, no accommodation for these vehicles on the Eastbourne Road until beyond the Fountain Inn in South Street. He pointed out that the carriage road in front of the British Queen was 23 feet wide and measurement of the yard of the British Queen showed that there was room for 12 wagons or 26 carts and every convenience for an inn, ale house or victualling-house. In a later 1867 sale advertisement for the freehold of the Snow Drop Inn it was described as: “Situate at South Street… with large open yard, extensive stables sufficient to accommodate twenty horses, (one of which is suitable for a skittle alley, and has been used as such) with spacious lofts over, double coach house, pig-pounds, and other conveniences. The House contains bar, bar-parlour, tap-room, kitchen and beer store;  also four good bed-rooms, one of which is suitable for a sitting-room.  There is a pump and an excellent supply of good water.”

A week later the 23 September 1839 Sussex Advertiser reported that the case had been re-considered at the Lewes Petty Sessions.  After the contested letters were described, and it was confirmed that Weymark was present, there was discussion as to whether this court was the appropriate place to hear detailed evidence but it was decided to proceed. The hearing took three hours and the magistrates then refused the license for that year as under the circumstances they did not feel it was justified.

This hearing established that Thomas Weymark had been employed by John Hillman for ten years and that he had been told by Hillman that the magistrates would not grant him a license for the British Queen for this year, but that the following year they would grant a license for Mr Hillman’s house at Southerham Corner. John Hillman had been promised Weymark that license. Thomas Berry said he had expressly built his house for Weymark and it was intended for a public house. He had agreed to lease the British Queen to Weymark for 7, 14, or 21 years. These statements confirm that the British Queen was not the pub at Southerham (later The Fox) and that the British Queen had been newly built by Thomas Berry.

Thomas Berry had another letter published in the 30 September 1839 Sussex Advertiser in which he attempts to clarify the situation.  He says that about April 1838 Thomas Wymark and his wife had applied to him to build them a House (i.e. a public house) in South Street and he had done so, with the accommodation executed to meet the wishes of Wymark and no expense spared to make it a place worthy of a license from the magistrates. Finally, a year later, the 17 August 1840 Brighton Gazette reported that Thomas Wymark was granted a license for the British Queen. There were July and October 1840 reports of coroner’s Inquests being held at the British Queen.

I think the above makes it completely clear that the British Queen was the public house now known as the Snowdrop. Why was the name the British Queen?  This is not an uncommon pub name and Queen Victoria had come to the throne in June 1837 so it seems likely it was named in her honour. I haven’t established when the name was changed to the Snowdrop but, as mentioned above, there was a newspaper report in January 1845 about a fracas in the pub named as Mr Weymark’s  Snowdrop. The change of name must therefore have been prior to 1845 but after 1840. It is possible that naming a pub for the avalanche might have seemed tasteless in 1838, only 2 years after the disaster, but by 1844 might have been seen as a commemoration of a noteworthy event.

Snowdrop pub, Lewes, by John Downie
A photograph of the Snowdrop taken in 2015 by John H. Downie

 

  1. The Southern Post Mill, Juggs Lane

Long after the demolition of the Southern Post Mill, one of the three windmills surrounding Lewes reached by Juggs Lane, a 1960s owner of the house on the site, Rosery Mill Cottage, dug out the centre of the mill ruins to create a swimming pool. His son, Stephen R.P. Bailey provided the Sussex Mills Group with a photograph of the pool taken in 1968. The swimming pool has since been filled in, but the circular brick remains of the mill’s roundhouse reportedly remain visible in the cottage’s garden.

Southern Post Mill, Juggs Lane, swimming pool

Southern Post Mill and Rosery Mill Cottage

This picture from Alex Vincent’s ‘Windmills of Lewes’ shows the Southern Post Mill, known at different times as Payne’s Mill, White Mill, and Southover Mill. Rosery Mill Cottage is shown to the right. A windmill at this location is first recorded in 1720. This mill was demolished in 1913.

Sources: Martin Brunnarius, ‘The Windmills of Sussex’; Alex Vincent, ‘Windmills of Lewes’; Article in the Sussex Mills Group Newsletter no.189 (January 2021), brought to our attention by Sue Berry.

 

  1. The Bakery at 61 Southover High Street                         (by Richard Pearson)

 Shown below are the 1876 auction particulars for 61 Southover High Street. At that date Mary Cruttenden of Lewes, widow, offered for sale the freehold dwelling house there on the north side of Southover High Street with a baker’s shop, a large detached bakehouse (with its own loft and drying room) and a garden, from which a baker’s and confectioner’s business had been run for the previous fifty years. The auction particulars come from the title deeds and show that at the auction the property was purchased by R.H. Billiter of Barcombe for £500, who paid a 15% cash deposit on the day of the auction. Earlier title deeds show that Mary’s husband, Thomas Cruttenden of Southover, baker, had purchased the property as early as 1827. The previous year he had also purchased a piece of land nearby, on which he had built two cottages.

Both of Thomas Cruttenden’s purchases had previously been part of a larger property that had, until a century earlier, been part of the lands belonging to William Newton of Southover Grange. This also included considerable land to the east, as far as what is now 56 Southover High St; to the west, land including the neighbouring Yew Tree Cottage; and to the north land that is now the playing fields of Southover and Western Road Schools. In the intervening century the property had passed through several hands and was progressively subdivided. It was further subdivided at the date of Thomas Cruttenden’s purchase, but there was already a house present when he purchased it.

61 Southover High Street, Lewes, 1876 auction particulars

Thomas Cruttenden’s 1827 purchase and his developments were financed through a mortgage, secured on his properties. Mortgages were available from private individuals with money to invest in return for an annual interest payment. Payment of the annual interest was expected, but the capital sum owing often continued for years, until the lender (or more often his executors) required repayment or the property came to be sold. In his long years of ownership Thomas Cruttenden only had to refinance his mortgage twice, lastly in 1861, when he took two separate mortgages, one from John Hoadley, a retired Cliffe gas fitter, and the second from Richard Henry Billiter of Barcombe Mills, who may well have been the supplier of the flour the Cruttendens’ bakery used, and was the purchaser of the business in 1876. The association of the business with Barcombe Mills may well have gone back to its foundation, as when Thomas Cruttenden first purchased the property in 1827 his trustee in the purchase deed was Samuel Woodgate Durrant. Described in the deed just as a Lewes merchant, he was a prosperous corn merchant, miller and farmer whose interests included Barcombe Mills and some adjacent farm tenancies. The mortgages confirm that Thomas Cruttenden occupied the house, shop and bakehouse himself.

After Richard Henry Billiter’s 1876 purchase this baker’s shop remained in the ownership of the successive proprietors of Barcombe Mills until in 1920 the property was sold William Thomas Cruttenden. During this period the baker running the business was first Thomas Cruttenden’s son William, and then his grandson William Thomas Cruttenden. In 1881 William Cruttenden (1834-1905, baptised at Southover in 1834) was here as a Southover baker and confectioner, and in 1891 & 1901 he was additionally a sub-postmaster. His son William Thomas Cruttenden (1867-1945) was a journeyman butcher in Bedfordshire in 1891, but by 1901 he was back in Southover, now a journeyman baker, with a Bedfordshire-born wife and several children born in Colchester. By 1911 he was a Southover master baker. The middle photograph below shows a Miss Cruttenden standing outside the shop in about 1920, and it is assumed the attached drawing by Ruth Cobb (1878-1950), the illustrator and author of ‘A Sussex Highway’ (1946), is from a similar era. In 1944, William Thomas Cruttenden, now a retired baker, sold it to his son John Wright Cruttenden of the same address, baker and confectioner, so four generations of the family baked here. It 1955 he then sold the property to Miss Byron of Yew Tree Cottage next door. It is not known when it ceased to be used as a bakery, but it is believed by the 1970s, if not earlier, it was being used by a Mr Tullet, as an office and store for his building business.

In 1976 I bought No 61, which was then a severely run down house, with a ‘kitchen’ and ‘bathroom’ in an outhouse, along with the bakehouse. The bakehouse consisted of an oven, similar to a pizza oven, about 3 metres in diameter taking up half of the ground floor along with a ‘giant’ mixing machine, over one metre in diameter, and with a large store above. The building was transformed in to a home in several phases between 1976 and the early 1980s. One of the builders remembered it when he was apprenticed baker, when he was locked in the oven as an initiation rite. The oven was not lit! At the time there was an active butcher’s and grocer’s shop in Southover, and in earlier years many breweries and ale houses; in the 1970s a knife grinder on a bicycle still came door knocking. A flock of sheep also passed along the street, apparently going to graze at the football club. No 61 was sold in 1986 to Betty Lockwood and there have been several other owners since.

61 Southover High Street, Lewes, 3 images
61 Southover High Street – Left: drawing by Ruth Cobb c.1920, Centre: photo of Bakery shop and Miss Cruttenden c.1920, Right: Later 20th Century photo

Sources: Privately held auction particulars: title deeds for 1721-1955 are ESRO LIB/501912/92 and ACC 8577/26; Familysearch website.

 

  1. Malling Mill and the Mill House

Malling Mill and Mill House, Lewes, James Cheetham

This postcard, captioned in what looks like James Cheetham’s handwriting, was offered for sale on ebay in March 2021. It sold for £42. It shows the mill not long before it burnt down in 1908.

 

  1. Lewes Guardians advertisement for Medical Services

The 1 April 1851 edition of the Sussex Advertiser carried an advertisement from the Lewes Board of Guardians for the provision of medical services. They were seeking qualified doctors to provide medical and surgical relief for the poor residing in the several parishes, whether legally settled or not, including those in the Union workhouses, for the year ending Lady Day 1852.

The upper district comprised the parishes of St Ann’s, St Michael, St John under the Castle and Southover, and the workhouse in St Ann. The salary for this post was £73 10s 0d. The lower district comprised the parishes of All Saints, Cliffe and South Malling, and the two workhouses of All Saints and Cliffe. The salary for this post was £63.

Extra fees were payable for midwifery cases at half a guinea each; for successful vaccinations at 1s 6d each and remuneration for surgical operations on outdoor paupers in accordance with article 177 of the Poor Law Commissioners’ order. I note that at the date the advertisement was published the first week of the year that the appointments were to cover had already passed, and that a second week would have passed before an appointment could be made. 


John Kay

Contact details for Friends of the Lewes History Group promoting local historical events:

Sussex Archaeological Society
Lewes Priory Trust

Lewes Archaeological Group
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