Four special days to explore county town’s rich heritage

Four tours will take place at historic Bull House, once the home of writer and revolutionary Tom Paine
Four tours will take place at historic Bull House, once the home of writer and revolutionary Tom Paine

Eighteen historic buildings and tours will feature in the Lewes Heritage Open Days 2018, from September 6-9.

Heritage Open Days celebrate England’s architecture and culture by offering free access to properties that are usually closed to the public, or charge for admission.

Some of the Lewes buildings accessible are not normally open to the public, and for others their usual entry charge has been waived for this event.

Booking is essential for tours of Lewes Prison, the imposing brick and flint Victorian edifice in Brighton Road similar to the innovative design at Pentonville, on the Thursday and Friday at 9.30am and 2pm. Please note bookings can’t be made for under-18s.

The Freemasons Hall, in the High Street, is Grade II Listed and dates from 1868. It is still owned by the South Saxon Lodge, one of the oldest in Sussex, and will be open on the Saturday and Sunday, 10am-4pm.

Edward Reeves Photography, also in the High Street, was established in 1855 and is believed to be the world’s oldest photographic business still in existence.

It will open on the Saturday and Sunday, 11am-4pm, when visitors can see the unique Victorian daylight studio and exhibition of images from the remarkable archive of more than 200,000 glass negatives.

There will be guided tours all day between 10am and 5pm on the Saturday at the Grade I Listed St Anne’s Church in Western Road.

It dates in part from the 12th century, with an anchorite’s cell from that era, and is the oldest surviving church in Lewes.

The Grade II* Listed Bull House, at The Bottleneck, dates from the 15th century and was the home from 1768-74 of Tom Paine, author of The Rights of Man and an inspiration for the American Revolution. Saturday tours are at 10am, 11.30am, 2pm and 3.30pm.

Booking for the Heritage Open days opened this week and closes on September 3, except for Lewes Prison (book by September 1), Sussex Police Headquarters (by August 30), Lewes Town Hall (by September 4), and Barbican House Library (by September 5).

For more information visit friends-of-lewes.org.uk