ROUSER has long been intrigued by Cliffe High Street - that narrow thoroughfare that links Lewes with the eastern Downs. L. S. Davey has the best description of it in his Street Names of Lewes:
The old bridge over the Ouse stands where, since the dawn of recorded history, the site of the river crossing has been situated.
What is now the narrow High Street was originally a causeway constructed over the marshland, from the East Gate in the Town Wall (at the bottom of School Hill) to the old hill track now known as Chapel Hill, linking Lewes with Pevensey and other habitations to the east.
Relics of this original roadway were revealed 10ft below the surface when the bridge was widened in 1932.
When the trustees of the Malling Turnpike roads declared their intention, about 1825, to seek legislative sanction to construct a new entrance to the town, with a bridge across the river at Malling, the traders of the Cliffe considered that their commercial interests would be materially affected, They were so alarmed that they obtained statutory powers which, when implemented, resulted in most of the properties on the south side of the street being pulled down and set back ‘some feet’ ....
Mind you, Cliffe is still pretty narrow today, despite its ‘widening’ so many years ago!
Pictured, Cliffe High Street in the 1940s.