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About Lewes

Lewes

 

 

Lewes is the county town of the administrative county of East SussexEngland and historically of all of Sussex. It is a civil parish and is the centre of the Lewes local government district. The settlement has a history as a bridging point and as a market town, and today as a communications hub and tourist-oriented town. At the 2001 census it had a population of 15,988.





Lewes-udsigt.jpg
Lewes viewed from Lewes Castle






History



Archaeological evidence points to prehistoric dwellers in the area. Scholars think that the Roman settlement of Mutuantonis was here, as quantities of artefacts have been discovered in the area. The Saxons built a castle, having first constructed its motte as a defensive point over the river; they gave the town its name.

After the Norman invasionWilliam the Conqueror rewarded William de Warenne, 1st Earl of Surrey with the Rape of Lewes, a swathe of land along the River Ouse from the coast to the Surrey boundary. He built Lewes Castle on the Saxon site; and he and his wife, Gundred also founded the Priory of St Pancras, a Cluniac monastic house, in about 1081. Lewes was the site of a mint during the Late Anglo-Saxon period and thereafter a mint during the early years after the Norman invasion. In 1148 the town was granted a charter by King Stephen. The town became a port with docks along the Ouse River.

The town was the site of the Battle of Lewes between the forces of Henry III and Simon de Monfort in the Second Barons' War in 1264, at the end of which de Monfort's forces were victorious. The battle took place in fields now just west of Landport. (Professor David Carpenter gave a lecture about the Battle of Lewes at Lewes Town Hall in the summer of 2010; it can be heard at the following website. )

At the time of the Marian Persecutions of 1555–1557, Lewes was the site of the execution of seventeen Protestant martyrs, who were burned at the stake in front of the Star Inn. This structure is now the Town Hall. A memorial to the martyrs was unveiled on Cliffe Hill in 1901. Through the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Lewes developed as the county town of East Sussex, expanding beyond the line of the town wall. It was an active port and developed related iron, brewing and ship building industries.

In 1846 the town became a railway junction, with lines constructed from the north, south and east to two railway stations. The development of Newhaven ended Lewes's period as a major port. During the Crimean War, some 300 Finns serving in the Russian army captured at Bomarsund were imprisoned at Lewes. Lewes became a borough in 1881.






Geography



Panoramic view of Lewes

 




Religious buildings




Church of England


 

 

 

Landmarks



The town is the location of several significant historic buildings, including Lewes Castle, the remains of Lewes Priory, Bull House (the former home of Tom Paine), Southover Grange and public gardens, and a sixteenth-century timber-framedWealden hall house known as Anne of Cleves House because it was given to her as part of her divorce settlement from Henry VIII, though she never lived there. Anne of Cleves House and the Castle are owned and maintained by the Sussex Archaeological Society (whose headquarters are in Lewes). The Round House, a secluded former windmill in Pipe Passage, was owned by the writer Virginia Woolf.

The steep and cobbled Keere Street is home to many historic buildings, including atimber framed antiquarian bookshop. The gardens of the buildings on the east side of the street border the old Town Walls. The Prince Regent once drove his carriage down the Street, and a sign at the bottom commemorates this event.



The Fifteenth Century Bookshop, on the corner of High Street and Keere Street
 

The ancient street pattern survives extensively as do a high proportion of the medieval building plots and oak framed houses, albeit often masked with later facades. The eighteenth century frontages are notable and include several, like Bartholomew House at the Castle Gate, that are clad in mathematical tiles which mimic fine brick construction. Numerous streets of eighteenth and nineteenth century cottages have survived cycles of 'slum clearance' as models of attractive town housing.

At the highest point of the old town the Portland stone and Coade stone facade of the Crown Court (1808–12, by John Johnson), the brick Market Tower and florid War Memorial mark the historic centre, although trade has tended to concentrate on the lower land in modern times. At the lowest part of the town, by the river, Harvey & Son's Brewery, 'The Cathedral of Lewes' is an unspoilt nineteenth-century tower brewery and is the only one of the town's five original major breweries still in use. The railway station is the other important monument of the industrial era.

 

Bull House: Thomas Paine's home

Southover Grange was built in the sixteenth century with Caen limestone taken from the ruins of Lewes Priory. The house and its gardens were bought by the borough council and opened to the public in 1945. It is used as a nursery school and as a venue for weddings and exhibitions. The north wing is home to Lewes Register Office, a craft shop and The Window café (open in spring and summer). The Grange gardens are divided by the Winterbourne stream and contain formal bedding displays, a wildflower area, a knot garden and some notable trees, including a large Magnolia grandiflora, a mulberry treedating perhaps to the seventeenth century and a tulip tree planted byQueen Elizabeth II. The gardens are open to the public during daylight hours all year round.

Pelham House dates back to the sixteenth century and features architecture of all subsequent eras and a private landscaped garden facing the Downs. It now serves as an independent hotel. Shelleys Hotel is likewise of some antiquity with a private garden and family associations with Percy Shelley.

The centre of Lewes is notable for a consistently high calibre of regional vernacular architecture and variety of historic construction materials and techniques.

 

 

Education
 

Primary schools

There are many primary schools including

Western Road and Southover School, despite being separate schools, are housed in linked buildings. The original Southover buildings are of red brick in the Queen Anne style, dating back to the early 20th century. The additions to it now forming the Western Road buildings date from after 1945. The two schools share a field.


 

Secondary schools

 

There are two secondary schools in the town and one nearby;




Further education

Sussex Downs College has one of its campuses in Lewes, and provides a range of courses including A levels, GCSEs, Functional Skills and Access courses and vocational qualifications such as NVQs and BTECs.

 

  Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewes


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