Waterstones to open in historic Lewes building

New chapter: Dial House has in the past been a solicitors' office and a Quaker school for young ladies
New chapter: Dial House has in the past been a solicitors' office and a Quaker school for young ladies

Waterstones is this month opening what it promises will be a “stunning” new bookshop in Lewes.

It will be at historic Dial House in the Cliffe Precinct and will incorporate a café.

Opening on Saturday, June 28, the bookshop will occupy 2,445 sq ft over one floor, and will feature a striking new light oak bookcase and slat wall design and the Café W.

A Waterstones spokesperson said: “On the shop’s chic bookshelves, amongst many other delights, you’ll find a handpicked range of captivating fiction, a treasure trove of history books and a mouth-watering selection of cookbooks.

“Should you find yourself stuck for inspiration, the friendly and knowledgeable team of booksellers will be on hand to give thoughtful recommendations and advice.”

After browsing the bookshelves, customers can visit the Café W, which will offer a range of hand-made cakes and pastries sourced from local artisan bakers and specialist producers.

It will also feature award-winning ginger ales from Portslade’s family-run Gran Stead’s Ginger Co, hand-made chocolates from West Grinstead’s Cocoa Loco and cakes from Brighton’s Baked Bliss.

The new branch will offer selected stationery and gifts, free wi-fi and a vibrant children’s department.

Waterstones Lewes will be a great place for the whole family to enjoy, said Manager Adam Baldwin.

“We’re thrilled to be opening a brand new bookshop in Lewes,” he said. “With its gorgeous new design, wonderful range of books and delicious Café W, our bookshop will be a real pleasure to browse , to enjoy with the family and to visit with friends and catch up over a coffee.

“We are really looking forward to sharing our stunning shop with the many book lovers of this lovely historic town.”

Elegant Dial House, at 220/221 High Street, was for some 100 years the office of solicitors Mayo Wynne Baxter until the firm’s relocation to Bell Lane, Lewes, in 2011.

Nearly two centuries ago Dial House was a Quaker school for young ladies.

The Quaker businessman John Godlee had four daughters, and when in 1826 a friend died, Godlee’s wife suggested that the friend’s two motherless children should be taken in and educated by her daughters.

The school grew from this small beginning to eventually have 20 pupils.

The girls were a visible presence in the town, walking two by two from the school and along Friars Walk for meditation and worship at the Friends Meeting House.