A Day in Lewes — a Castle, an Ancient House, Priory Ruins, a Great Pint, and the South Downs, Oh My!

Today, I decided to head to the nearby town of Lewes (pronounced just like Lewis) to visit its castle (and other sites) and get a chance to walk on the famous South Downs. I headed out around 9:30 this morning to catch a 10:08 train to Brighton and then the first train to Lewes. Since my Airbnb is right near the train station, I was very early, even after collecting my ticket, and on top of that my train to Brighton was delayed. So I headed down to the Barclay’s to do a withdrawal so I wouldn’t have to do that in Lewes.

Standing on the platform, I could look up the stairs to the locked gate onto the pedestrian bridge.

Not sure I would want to live somewhere called “Bad House”…

Brighton train station was quite impressive!

I didn’t have to wait for a train to Lewes so I ended up having a very quick trip. It was one stop to Brighton and then four or five to Lewes.

Looking out over Brighton from the train to Lewes.

I still can’t get over the daffodils in early March!

The Lewes train station was similar to Hove’s.

I headed uphill from the train station to find the High Street and the tourist information centre.

I liked the turquoise trim on this house.

The lady at the tourist information centre was super helpful. I asked her about walking on the South Downs if I had only an hour or two and she gave me a map, a leaflet, and excellent directions for what sounded like exactly the perfect walking option. I decided to start my day with the castle, though, and she sent me in direction of it.

This narrow street rather reminded me of a Shrewsbury shut.

From the High Street, there’s a sign saying to turn right for the castle. You do so and, boom, there’s its gate!

I bought a combination ticket for the castle and an old Tudor house for £12.50. The lady who sold me the ticket gave me directions to the house and then a route to another location that would let me do a nice circle back around to the High Street to find lunch after.

It is very, very, very late, so I’m not going to get into the very complicated history of this castle. It’s been built and rebuilt many times and has had many owners so it’s not really that old.

Stocks.

My first destination was the top of the barbican, over the entrance gate.

That “guy” scared the heck out of me when I came into the room!

I had fun trying to figure out how to use a medieval crane.

Ah… the famous chalk hills of Sussex, or the South Downs. I first learned about them when I was reading the Sherlock Holmes stories as this area is where he retired.

Shame it was so misty. I was tempted later in the day, when the sky cleared, to ask if I could come back up, but I was too tired and foot sore.

The castle is made of local flint.

Looking out over the bowling green, the lumpiest in England! Thomas Paine (Rights of Man) played there in the 18th century when he lived in Lewes!

Remains of an old cooking fireplace, when this part of the castle would have been indoors.

I headed inside to climb to the very top of the castle.

Looking out to Lewes prison.

It was surreal to be here! This isn’t even the most famous view of the chalk hills and I didn’t feel any need to go seek it out.

After the castle, I did the little attached museum. This tapestry was impressive.

Mirror

Swords

Flint tools

This is apparently what a medieval felt hat would have looked like.

The floors in the upstairs of the museum was embarrassingly creaky!

After the museum, I continued down the High Street.

Little did I know I would be back to the Brewers Arms.

The 15th century bookstore, where I had to turn off the High Street.

I passed what looked like a pretty garden and was thrilled that it was open to the public.

My tour of this lovely garden done, I continued on, passing yet another lovely church.

My next destination of Anne of Cleves House. She was one of Henry VIII’s wives. She won this house in their divorce settlement, but never actually lived here although she might have visited. I have so much information about this house that I may come back and do a page about it when I’m not so knackered. There’s no way I can do it justice tonight. It’s a fine example of a Tudor manor, but it was much improved upon over the years and does not resemble its original form.

The entrance is the former great hall.

From there you can go right (left looking at this picture) into the east bedroom.

It was a really vast and voluminous space. Two ladies and a little girl were there and we had a chat about the history of building and how mind boggling it is that it took so long for Western society to start using insulation. We also had fun playing with those costumes!

This could serve as a chair, table, or chest!

The floor of the parlour was incredibly uneven and not level!

I find that expression hilarious.

Remember his thoughts on Shrewsbury?

This represents an avalanche in Lewes in the 19th century.

Hops!

The tour of the house ends with the garden.

I found the Anne of Cleves House was very interesting to walk through. It smelled exactly as it should, so musty and old, and the exhibits were interesting. But I paid £1.50 extra for a leaflet that had pretty much the same information as on the walls and it was not laid out in a logical manner. I found that the museum could have done a better job with it and to help guests through the rather confusing layout.

more palm trees!

My last stop before a badly needed lunch was Priory Park, which is free to walk through.

From the priory, I had to go past the rail station to get back to the High Street. I passed one of the many “rail replacement” buses since there is a lot of work being done on the railways.

Exterior of Lewes train station.

I had lunch at the Brewers Arms pictured above. I went with the lunch special of sausages and mash with a pint of Harvey’s Best Bitter, a beer brewed right in Lewis. All was yummy. 🙂 I took my time with lunch since I was very tired by this point and wanted a rest before heading onto the South Downs.

After lunch,  I went down the High Street in the other direction towards the South Downs.

The High Street ends with a pedestrianised bit.

I was happy to find (very expensive) ice cream, to which I added a Flake!

Unfortunately, you have to book brewery tours eons in advance.

At the end of the High Street, I started up the very steel Chapel Road.

Not even all the way up, I already had amazing views of Lewes and the valley.

The walk on the South Downs takes you right by cows. That black one on the right had a shifty gaze.

I couldn’t believe how much this part of the South Downs looked like the rolling hills around Haven. And just like at home, the internet up with the cows was much better than down in the valley where the people live. *wry grin*

And the point of this gate is?

I descended into a valley full of sheep.

My walk leaflet mentioned this pond. Little did I know I would spend so much time here that it would be my final destination on the Downs!

It was full of frogs! I spent so much time watching them. I believe it’s mating season.

So cute!

I couldn’t believe the number of them there were, all around the pond.

One on the grass posed for me.

I was supposed to catch a 5PM train back to Hove and it was past 3:30 by this point, so it was time to go back.

But I couldn’t resist capturing one last cutie for posterity.

I headed straight back to the railway station, avoiding the High Street except for the pedestrianised bit.

I passed yet another church.

This was a rather lovely building. I like the rounded corner.

A clearish view of the chalk hills.

Somewhere along the day, I picked up a copy of The Big Issue. It is a very good publication that is sold by homeless people in the UK. They buy the magazines for £1.25 and then resell them for £2.50. So every copy they have is money the invested in their business. Please support a Big Issue seller if you come across one as the program provides gainful employment that contributes to some people getting off the streets .

The train station was a mess. Many trains were cancelled, included my 4:59 home. I was early, so I took the 4:41 into Brighton.

I then just barely made the train to Hove. Exhausted, I looked forward to popping into the Tesco by the station and then only have a short walk home. Well…

No one in my carriage got off at Hove with me and I was unable to get the door to open to let me off! I asked for help and people just laughed and said it was too late as we took off again! Thankfully, the next station wasn’t too far, but I was in a real pickle since UK public transportation in general does not look kindly on folks riding outside of their allotted tickets. I could get on a train back to Hove, but if an inspector requested to see my ticket, I could be in a lot of hot water. They really don’t care about sob stories and I’m pretty sure they make most of their money from fines.

I checked where I was and I was just a block from my road and then two kilometres away. The next train back was in an hour (!) so it made sense to just hoof it. Slightly problem, you have to scan your ticket to get out and I did not have a valid ticket for that station so I couldn’t get out. There was literally no legal way out of this jam since I couldn’t even buy new tickets since the machine was on the wrong side of the gate!

It was getting cold by this point and I was exhausted. Soon as I saw someone come through the wide handicapped gate, I squeezed through by her before they could close. Talk about a ridiculous predicament!

I was so foot sore by this point that I didn’t want to detour to get dinner. I figured I could have a bowl of cereal or maybe a slice of toast. Well, my host invited me to sit in the lounge by a proper fire with a friend of her’s and wine and eventually dinner materialised! Wow! I was inordinately grateful and that really helped make the train stupidity a footnote in my day instead of a spoiler of it.

I’m going to hit post on this as I’m starting to see double. Please pardon the typos. 😉

2 thoughts on “A Day in Lewes — a Castle, an Ancient House, Priory Ruins, a Great Pint, and the South Downs, Oh My!

  1. In Port Townsend, Washington, USA, there is a woman known as the Victorian Lady. She and her husband live as closely as they can as people would have in Victorian times. She rides a tricycle like the one in your pictures. She has a blog but I can’t remember its name right now.

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