Revealing Lewes’ rich history in Heritage Open Days

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So you think you know about Lewes? Expand your knowledge of the town’s history with this year’s Heritage Open Days weekend, from September 12 to 15.

New to the weekend this year is the Dripping Pan, home of Lewes Football Club since 1885, where there will be a display in the clubhouse about the Rooks’ history (and the club’s stylish match posters, which made the national press this year).

The Victorian tower of Harveys Brewery is a Lewes landmark, and the ‘Ale & Hearty’ project is parking its vintage mobile cinema in Harveys’ Yard to show a film about the bygone days of hop-picking and brewing in Sussex. A bookable tour of the brewery building is also planned.

Priory School in Mountfield Road is opening up the chapel in its grounds which was built for its predecessor there, Lewes County Grammar School for Boys.

It is dedicated to those pupils who gave their lives in the Second World War and was designed by the celebrated 20th century architect, Sir Edward Maufe, whose other work includes Guildford Cathedral and several churches in Sussex. The chapel has been beautifully maintained, and tours of the interior will be available.

At last year’s event, Stephen Steere’s House (1 North Street) had visitors queuing down the road to look at the meticulous conservation work taking place at this fascinating corner house (and, later, shop) of 1805. It is opening again this year. The 18th century forge in Fisher Street, another reminder of the town in times gone by, will also be open.

Lewes Old Grammar School is opening again on the Saturday, and other historic buildings taking part again this year include Bull House, Lamb House, the Town Hall with its medieval vaults and the Grade I listed Jireh Chapel. Priory Park is holding a range of family activities on the Saturday among the Cluniac remains.

For some venues, and also a town walk led by local historian Sue Berry at noon on Sunday, you need to book in advance. Pick up details in the Lewes Heritage Open Days map guide available now at the Tourist Information Centre, Lewes Library and other venues around the town. You can also find full details of Heritage Open Days events both locally and nationwide by visiting www.heritageopendays.org.uk

The event is organised by the Friends of Lewes with the support of Lewes District Council. The Society is also grateful to estate agents Strutt and Parker for sponsoring the map guide, and to the many building owners and other volunteers who contribute to the weekend.