The Friends of Lewes, the town’s Civic Society, is leading a call to local residents for information about historic and important buildings at risk of loss or dilapidation.
English Heritage has been gathering information on the physical condition of our ‘built heritage’ for some years now. Its very first “National Register of Listed Buildings at Risk” was published in 1998 and recorded all Grade I and II* buildings at risk from neglect . This list includes not only buildings, but also structures such as boundary walls, tombs, memorials and the like.
The current Heritage at Risk Register records information on a wider range of protected historic places, including battlefields and archaeological sites. However, it still only includes information on Grade I and II* listed buildings. Responding to this knowledge gap, the South Downs National Park Authority has identified Grade II buildings at risk by a similar survey – using the English Heritage methodology. The resultant provisional list for Lewes was short – including two solid but sagging table tombs, some rusted railings around another monument and a Gilbert Scott telephone kiosk.
Friends of Lewes recently held a seminar for interested groups.to consider whether any interesting historic structures had been missed. Those represented included the Lewes Conservation Area Advisory Group (CAAG), the South Downs Society (SDS), the Sussex Heritage Trust, Lewes Town Council and officers from the South Downs National Park Authority and Lewes District Council
There are some obvious candidates, such as the stretch of the Town Wall behind the Masonic Lodge in Pipe Passage and what is probably the remains of a kiln for pipe- making. But what about less obvious remnants of our agricultural past, like old barns and farm buildings in a traditional Sussex style? Unprotected by statutory listing, the buildings in Castle Ditch Lane nevertheless help tell the story of Lewes. Many buildings have much older, even Medieval origins than may appear at first sight. Re-used remnants of Lewes Priory, or the former religious buildings at Malling, may turn up in later houses or walls. Other buildings may contain timber-framed elements, or other historic features, unseen from the outside. Even some listed buildings – like those that flank the Grange Gardens may be at risk – after lead was stolen from their roofs, it allowed water to penetrate the walls.
So here is a call to the people of Lewes, use your eyes, and please let us know!
Contact Friends of Lewes at firstname.lastname@example.org or by post, c/o The Town Hall, Lewes, BN7 2QS.