Guided history walk in Lewes will tackle grave matter

All Saints in Lewes
All Saints in Lewes

A spooky history walk shedding light on the mysteries of Lewes graveyards will be held this weekend.

Local historian Malcolm Campbell will lead residents around the cemeteries of St John Sub Castro, St Anne’s Church, All Saints and St John the Baptist Church in Southover.

They will be able to learn about funerary art and burial practices throughout the ages.

Did you know, for instance, the practice of putting up iron fences around graves developed in the 18th and 19th centuries to deter grave robbers who would steal bodies for medical experiments?

Malcolm said: “Lewes has got some of the most atmospheric burial grounds in the South East.

“They have very good examples of funerary art over the last 300 years.”

The talk will be held on Sunday January 11 and begins at 11am outside the Library in Friars Walk.

Tickets cost £7 for adults and £4 for accompanied children, which is payable on the day. The walk lasts for about an hour and 40 minutes. Reservations are not necessary.

Amongst the interesting items on the tour will be the chest tombs of All Saint’s Church in Friars Walk.

These were popular in the 18th and 19th centuries with wealthy tradesmen who could afford these elegant and elaborate tombs.

If there is time the walk may also include the town cemetery where a member of the Baxter family, which owned the Lewes printing company, is buried.

This member of the Baxter family was a coronor Whitechapel at the time of the Jack the Ripper murders.

At St John the Baptist Church, in Southover High Street, they will visit a section of the graveyard which previously would have been the graveyard for the lay brothers of Lewes Priory. The priory was dissolved in the 16th century by Henry VIII and today only its ruins remains.

Malcolm said: “A lot of the churchyards have been put aside for wildlife and are disused. “I think it will be very atmospheric.”