Transformation under way at Magic Circle in Lewes

Working at the site
Working at the site

Work has begun on re-modelling the area known to generations of Lewes residents as The Magic Circle.

The £90,000 initiative in the Castle Precincts is in recognition of its genesis in 1920 as a private Garden of Peace.

A computer-generated image by Crispin William of how the completed project will look

A computer-generated image by Crispin William of how the completed project will look

It was originally built by Frank Frankfort Moore (1855-1931) after he bought Castlegate House in 1907. Frankfort Moore was from Northern Ireland, a prolific dramatist, biographer, novelist and poet.

Changes in ownership meant these private spaces became public, a car park, and the pond was concreted over to become that curious place that for decades Lewes youths knew as a secluded attractive place to meet up with friends.

The construction was never meant for public use, and over time the unsupported archways and arbours dilapidated, to leave a rather sad space.

Plans were put into place to address what had become an eyesore. The first job was to establish an official public right of way.

A small team from The Friends of Lewes worked to come up with a design idea that acknowledged a Garden of Peace but suitable for use by the public. It is widely agreed the scheme will improve the visitor’s first impression of Lewes.

There will be an information panel that will show the historic importance of this area which is in the Bailey of Lewes Castle, an ancient monument which meant permission for the work had to be granted by Historic England.

There are suggestions to part suspend the parking there occasionally. The second circle could be used as a stage for public performances, the car park and the surrounding banks providing a natural amphitheatre for short plays and possibly musical events, Christmas fairs and festivals of light.

Funding for the project has come from The Friends of Lewes (£13,600), Lewes Town Council (£35,000), Community Infrastructure Levy (£25,000) and Lewes District Council (£20,000). The Friends are working in partnership with the district council, which has taken responsibility for overseeing the build contract.

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