Chance to explore wealth of fascinating old buildings in Lewes

HISTORIC buildings across Lewes are once again taking part in the national Heritage Open Days event.

This year, the event runs from Thursday, September 6, to Sunday, September 9, though most buildings will be opening over the weekend. All are free to visit, though some tours need to be booked in advance.

You can now pick up a Lewes Heritage Open Days leaflet – with a full list of buildings and a map – from the Tourist Information Centre, the Library, or various shops in the town. You can also visit for details of other buildings in the Lewes District and further afield that are taking part.

New additions in Lewes this year include the Grade I Listed early 19th century Jireh Chapel, recently restored by English Heritage, and Lewes Old Grammar School which will be showing visitors round its buildings old and new in the High Street.

In North Street, a fascinating corner house and shop – once a Victorian bakers and later a coal merchants – will open to show the conservation work taking place there.

Also in North Street, W F Bruce – who recently restored the Market Tower clock – are opening their workshops, and historic clocks by Lewes clockmakers will be on display.

Nearby, in Market Street, George Justice are again opening their furniture restoration workshops to visitors.

This year, all three tiers of local government are taking part, with guided tours of County Hall, Lewes House and the Town Hall.

Lewes House will have a display of Reeves wedding photographs from the 1950s to the 1970s, when it was the town’s Register Office. You might even recognise somebody!

Elsewhere, you can visit Lamb House in Chapel Hill with its 18th century Chinese lacquer screen, and Christ Church, with lovely embroidered panels of local scenes and a stained-glass window rescued from the Tabernacle Church Sunday School in the Cliffe.

The event is organised by the Friends of Lewes with support from Lewes District Council and the Lewes Chamber of Commerce. The estate agents Strutt and Parker have kindly sponsored the Lewes map leaflet.

Whatever the weather, the weekend is a great opportunity to get out and explore one of the most important historic towns in the UK.

Do you own a property of architectural interest? If you’d like to take part next year, please get in touch. Lewes Heritage Open Days contacts are David Attwood (01273 483072, or Judith Davies (01273 477447,