Lewes History Group talk: History of St John-sub-Castro Church, Lewes – Monday 13 January 2020, 7:00 for 7:30pm

Stuart Billington: The History of St John-sub-Castro Church, Lewes

St John-sub-Castro occupies a dramatic site in the Pells, on a low but defensible cliff overlooking what John Bleach has suggested was the original entrance to Lewes from the east, before the medieval causeway on which the Cliffe was constructed.

There was a pre-Conquest church here (the oldest Lewes church that we have any record of), and despite falling into disrepair, this small Saxon church survived the 16th century Reformation when the number of Lewes churches was reduced.

The next significant period was the 19th century. Owing to the rapid population growth in the parish in the early 1800s the old church became too small. Therefore it was demolished in 1839, to be replaced by the present, much larger flint and brick edifice, that was paid for by subscriptions (an early example of crowdfunding).

The building of the Wallands and the Landport Estate had a major impact on parish life in the 20th century, as did the high cost of maintaining such a large building. Major changes followed in the 2010s, with the formation of Trinity Church and the transformation of the building into the church and café that we see today.

St John-sub-Castro Church, Lewes, James Rouse
St John-sub-Castro Church, from Rouse’s prints: James Rouse, ‘The Beauties and Antiquities of the County of Sussex’ (1825)

Stuart has written A Guide to the History of St John sub Castro, which is published as a book by Trinity Church Lewes, and also online at the History of St John sub Castro website.

All are welcome from 7.00pm for free refreshments and updates on the Group’s activities. The talk will begin promptly at 7:30pm and will finish by 9.00pm.

There is an entry fee, payable at the door, of £1 for members, and £3 for non-members.

Venue: The King’s Church building on Brooks Road, Lewes, BN7 2BY. (Between Tesco car park and Homebase)

See the Talks page for a list of  forthcoming monthly events organised by the Lewes History Group.