We’ve wandered along the twisting streets of Lewes (but then all streets in this area seem to twist). Lewes, the municipal center of this part of Sussex is a small city, made quite busy and lively, according to my local friends, by the push of development from London. People move in here, quite willing (or forced) to commute over an hour by train to London. The main street features a mix of contemporary development and remnants of several past eras.
Lewes was the sight of one of William the Conqueror’s first castles, the kind of development that invaders need to keep the locals at bay.
The angular Norman architecture of the forts and castles found its way into church architecture as well. Several years ago, while driving across Normandy, I had to restrain myself from stopping in every village to investigate the local church. I’m having the same problem here. A few miles outside Lewes in Alfriston is St. Andrew’s Church, sometimes called The Cathedral of the Southern Downs, built in the early 12th century on what had probably been an older Saxon site, exemplifying the typical Norman cross shape.
Built a few hundreds of a year later, along the Main Street, is a restored and refurbished beamed building turned into a bookstore.
Several other beamed building dot the town scape, some that mix the iconic Elizabethan structure with more contemporary uses.
And of course, Thomas Paine slept here.