Not many people stop to think about the origin of some of Lewes’ ancient street names. Take Eastport Lane, for instance.
According to L S Davey’s Street Names of Lewes, the old borough of Southover originally had its own administration, separate from Lewes, from which it was divided by the once tidal waterway now reduced to the Winterbourne Stream.
In those far-off days there used to be ‘ports’ (entrances) giving access across the watercourse to Southover from Lewes - the East Port and the West Port.
At both points there formerly existed a watermill, and a deed of 1609 identifies the mill at the West Port as adjoining a bridge known as Pankridge (Pancras).
The present St Pancras Road and Rotten Row follow the ancient route.
The East Port can be reasonaly identified at the eastern end of Eastport Lane where the Winterbourne Stream formerly spread itself over an area later occupied by the cattle market to form a pond which was traditionally called the Mill Pond.
Among early references to Eastport Lane is the record of one John Francis who was hanged in 1577 for rape.
Number 23 was once an inn called the Welcome Stranger. Adjoining it, and now a dwelling, is the old chapel of the General Baptists.