LEWES – 6 miles (15 minutes by car)
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-framed Wealden 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 a timber 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 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.