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'.
5th of November is used by the towns Bonfire societies to commerate the foiling of the gunpowder plot to blow up Parliament and the earlier burning at the stake of 15 protestant martyrs by burning effigies of the Pope and anyone who else who happens to be annoying them at the time.
This is very un-pc but there's no actual anti-catholic hatred in the town ,it's just a tradition that died out in most other places.
To be honest most other Sussex towns still have torchlight processions and burn effigies of Guy Fawkes ,but one of the smaller villages got into trouble last year after burning effigies of a family of gypsies in a caravan.