GETTING SPLICED (AT SOUTHOVER GRANGE!)
We have an age old custom in the United Kingdom which is sadly in danger of dying out. People did it for reasons wide and varied - for love, for faith, for fun, for tradition's sake, for their mum and dad, for a laugh, for money, for respectability and even tax reasons. Yes readers, I speak of the institution. In days gone by many an entertaining hour could be spent peering at the newlywed photos in the local newspaper. A favourite game of mine was 'Spot the person who has never worn a tie before'. Hpwever, if you walk past Lewes Crown Court and gaze towards the shifty young men awaiting judgement, you can play a similar version of the game today!
Yet, marriage isn't over quite yet for even though church attendance may be wavering many still seem to fancy a 'proper wedding'. For those made of sterner stuff for whom a blessing was unecessary but a legally union essential, the state alternative remains, a Registery Office wedding. It used to be at the local office whether you liked it or not - and some could be grim indeed - but nowadays a number of attractive venues have won licenses to host registery weddings. Lewes was lucky, it had a lovely office from the word go. Southover Grange** is a charming honey-hued building which was built in 1572 from the remains of Lewes Priory (naughty Henry VIII) and was the home of the diarist John Evelyn. It has the added advantage of a beautiful public garden into which the entire wedding party can tumble after the ceremony. On a sunny day even Mr Hyde would look photogenic against this backdrop. Get that engagement ring at the ready or if you prefer, you can hire it for a function of your choice.
*Well, the last one no longer applies. (I still weep at the passing of the Married Man's Tax Allowance)
** It features as 'Mock Beggars Hall' in Harrison Ainsworth's Victorian novel 'Ovindean Grange'.
Hiking around Lewes
Lewes was the start and end point for a day spent hiking around the South Downs. We arrived here on an early train from London and spend about two hours exploring the town before starting our long hike.
Our hike took us through some beautiful Sussex countryside, passing the village of Glynde (near the setting for the Glyndebourne opera) and the grounds of Firle Place before climbing on to the Downs. It was a long day’s hike and we arrived back in Lewes late that evening, in much need of rest and refreshment.
We spent the evening in the Brewer’s Arms, a lovely pub on the main street before grabbing a quick meal and then taking the last train back to London. So we only briefly saw Lewes, but we very much enjoyed our day here.
Lewes is a county town of East Sussex. It's situated between Brighton and Eastbourne, on a hill next to the river Ouse. Lewes is a cosy town with narrow streets, beautiful buildings and plentiful antique shops.
There are the ruins of Norman castle in Lewes. Lewes was settled down by the Normans after 1066.
A barbican was added in the 14 th century. It's the best preserved part of the castle.
There are beautiful parks in Lewes too.
SOME SIGHTS IN LEWES
"ST. MICHAEL'S CHURCH"
St. Michael's Parish Church boasts an unusual round tower that dates back to the 13th Century.
Market Tower was built in 1792. It contains a portrait of Thomas Paine.
"ANNE OF CLEVES"
This unfortunate, divorced wife of Henry VIII got a small house in Lewes as part of her settlement. Apparently, Anne never lived there but the house remains and is now a museum. It's at the bottom of this street, and we didn't walk down but will one day.
The castle was begun by William of Warenne after the battle of Hastings. This was the beginning of the Norman era. There are good views of the South Downs and the River Ouse. The ancient Bowling Green is still in use and there's a terrific Barbican Gate which visitors pass below on their way up to the Castle.