Explore history of Lewes in fascinating public art trail


Sculptures, statues and paintings will be on show for people to admire and enjoy in the new Lewes Public Art Trail.

Following the success of a popular course about public art, run by Dr Andrew Buxton, Lewes District Council has teamed up with U3A (University of the Third Age) to put together the art trail.

Thomas Paine SUS-150508-174232001

Thomas Paine SUS-150508-174232001

Public art is work that can be found and seen in public places, such as streets and parks, and is accessible by all. This trail includes works of various kinds, many connected with the history of Lewes town.

The partnership has produced a trail map that highlights 13 works and seven other notable features.

Pieces of art featured on the trail include:

1. Vernon March, 1922. The focal point of Remembrance Day ceremonies and Bonfire Society Prayers. The cenotaph carries a bronze figure of victory standing on a globe and holding a wreath. After World War II, names of the fallen were added along with Winston Churchill’s Finest Hour quotation.



2. Law Courts reliefs. Three panels of artificial stone representing Wisdom, Justice and Mercy. The building dates from 1808–12 and at one time was East Sussex County Hall. The architect was John Johnson, who also designed Chelmsford Shire Hall; the panels are copies of ones previously installed there.

3. Mural of Thomas Paine. Julian Bell, 1994. Thomas Paine, the political activist and philosopher, was appointed as an excise officer in Lewes in 1768 and lived in Bull House on the High Street. In 1774 he emigrated to America.

4. St Michael. Fibreglass statue of the archangel by Harry Phillips, 1976, on the 12th-century round tower of St Michael’s Church. Reminiscent of the statue by Jacob Epstein on Coventry Cathedral.

6. The White Lion. A replacement sign marking the former White Lion pub, demolished under a slum clearance scheme in 1937. The original 200-year-old sign, made from sheet copper by a Lewes craftsman named Larwill, was discovered half-buried in a garden and put up by the Friends of Lewes in 1954. It has now been restored by the Town Council and installed in the Corn Exchange.



7. County Hall relief. William Mitchell, 1968. Made from 11 panels of polymerised concrete with five narrow windows of coloured glass, it spans the whole width of the main entrance. The abstract design alludes to the functions of the County Council at the time.

8. Janus. John Skelton, 1997. Janus has two faces and looks both to the future and the past. Skelton, who worked at Streat, near Lewes, was the nephew of Eric Gill, the sculptor and typeface designer.

9. Madrigal Singers. Austin Bennett, 2000. Nicholas Yonge of Lewes published a book of Italian madrigals in 1588 which helped to popularise them in England. The Nicholas Yonge Society commissioned this bronze sculpture of him at the beginning of the new millennium.

10. The Helmet (a memorial to the Battle of Lewes, 1264). The monument is by the Italian sculptor Enzo Plazzotta and was presented to the town in 1964 by the MP, Sir Tufton Beamish, to mark the 700th anniversary and restored in 2014. It is made of sandcast aluminium and has an inscription from The Song of Lewes.

11. Hubcap sculptures at the Snowdrop Inn. Ptolemy Elrington, 1999–2002. A large crocodile, an eagle and two smaller artworks outside and others in the upstairs room. Made from car hubcaps collected from the side of the road and joined with reclaimed wire.

A free guided walk is taking place during the Artwave festival on September 5 from 2pm. To pre book your place email: andrew.buxton@yahoo.co.uk The Art trail map has been supported by Lewes District Council and Friends of Lewes and is available in Lewes Tourist Information Centre, Lewes Castle, Anne of Cleves and other venues. It is also downloadable from our refreshed visitor website www.staylewes.info. Visit www.artwavefestival.org.

Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.

Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.

1) Make our website your homepage at www.sussexexpress.co.uk/

2) Like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pages/Sussex-Express/

3) Follow us on Twitter @sussex_express

4) Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.

And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!

The Sussex Express - always the first with your local news.

Be part of it.