A hill with a school, a breeze or a shoe

Rouser 2012
Rouser 2012


THERE has long been controversy over the origins of the name of School Hill, that horribly steep ascent through central Lewes that is the bane of life for arthritic pensioners such as Rouser.

As L. S. Davey (revised by Kim Clark) put it in The Street Names of Lewes, there is a popular fallacy that the name arose from the several private schools which were once situated there.

There was a Boarding School for Ladies at number 208, and a Swiss Protestant named Raymond ran the School Hill Academy (formerly the Turk’s Head Inn) which is now Albion House at the corner of Albion Street.

But the name of the hill is much older. A rent roll of 1498 mentions ‘a plot of land lying in the parish of All Saints at Scholehill’.

School is thought to be a corruption of Cole or Cool Hill, which is not improbable given the breeze that forever blows along it.

The top contender, however, is that School derives from the Old English word ‘scoh’, or shoe - meaning, in this context, a hill shaped like a shoe, which it apparently once was!

All very confusing.

The hill leads down to the site of the East Gate, all trace of which is now lost.

And the steep incline was, sensibly, once paved with cobblestones, probably to stop carriages and people slipping.

Pictured, School, Cool or Scoh Hill in about 1900.