Friday, 29 June 2012

At leisure in Lewes

White Hart Hotel, Lewes
© Teresa Newham 2012
We recently spent a weekend at Lewes, in Sussex, for a wedding.  We could have stayed closer to the reception in a nearby village; but when we realised what a historical town Lewes is, we decided to base ourselves there and take a look around.  We stayed at the White Hart Hotel, originally a 16th-century coaching inn.  The location was perfect, right in the town centre;  so as soon as we'd unpacked we headed down the High Street for a look round.

The Fifteenth Century Bookshop, Lewes
© Teresa Newham 2012
The High Street is simply overflowing with history.  There are some magnificent Tudor buildings, such as the Fifteenth Century bookshop, cheek-by-jowl with Georgian terraces and Victorian attempts to recreate the town's Tudor origins. 

Bull House, Lewes - home of Thomas Paine
© Teresa Newham 2012
Lewes is very proud of the fact that the 18th century radical Thomas Paine lived in the town for a while.  Paine lodged at Bull House for several years, working both as an Excise Officer and a tobacconist, and marrying his landlord's daughter.  Eventually he headed off to America to become one of the founding fathers of the United States. 

Tom Paine Printing Press, Lewes
© Teresa Newham 2012
I was thrilled to discover that one enterprising printmaker had set up shop in the High Street, trading as the Tom Paine Printing Press.  We spent a little while in here admiring his letterpress prints and the work of some other local printmakers.  I just loved the fact that he was drying his prints pegged to a washing line, just as we had at the printmaking course at the Eagle Gallery

interior of the Tom Paine Printing Press, Lewes
© Teresa Newham 2012
The shop was jam-packed with interesting artefacts - and a steady stream of eager customers - including us.  I didn't feel comfortable photographing the work too close up, but to my delight I've discovered that there is a Tom Paine Printing Press blog which talks about this project and shows the prints in more detail.

Polish Pottery at Baltica, Lewes
© Teresa Newham 2012
By now we were fairly desperate for a cuppa, and chanced upon our next find; a cafe called Baltica which is also an outlet for Polish pottery.  As you can see, we ate off it, drank out of it and poured our tea and milk from it (and then, of course, we bought some).  The choice of patterns and pieces was incredible. 

We hadn't expected our trip to Lewes to involve art and shopping, but it didn't end there.  The morning after the wedding we went to mass at St Pancras Church, and happened upon exactly the statuette of the Virgin Mary we'd been waiting for (Father Jonathan was kind enough to bless it for us).  This was serendipity indeed . . . I suspect we'll be going back to Lewes.  The wedding was fun, too!

1 comment:

  1. This was a fascinating weekend. I hadn't realised that Lewes had so much history connected with it and I had forgotten about the Paine connection. Definitely not a town built for 21st century traffic (good!) but a great choice of 'base'!