A new Garden of Peace in Lewes

The area known to many Lewes residents as the Magic Circle is being re modelled in recognition of its genesis in 1920 as a private Garden of Peace.

It was originally built by Frank Frankfort Moore 1855- 1931 after he bought Castlegate House in 1907. Frankfort Moore was from Northern Ireland, a prolific dramatist, biographer, novelist and poet.

Changes in ownership meant these private spaces became public, a car park, and the pond was concreted over to become that curious place that many generations of Lewes youth knew as a secluded attractive place to meet up with friends.

The construction was never meant for public use, and over time the unsupported archways and arbours dilapidated, to leave a rather sad space.

Plans were put into place to address what had become an eyesore. The first job was to establish an official public right of way.

A small team from The Friends worked to come up with a design idea that acknowledged a Garden of Peace, but suitable for use by the public. The plans will improve the visitor’s first impression of Lewes. There will be an information panel that will show the historic importance of this area which is in the Bailey of Lewes Castle, an ancient monument which meant permission for the work had to be granted by Historic England.

There are suggestions to part suspend the parking there occasionally. The second circle could be used as a stage for public performances, the car park and the surrounding banks providing a natural amphitheatre for short plays and possibly musical events, Christmas fairs and festivals of light.

Funding for the project has come from The Friends of Lewes, Lewes Town Council, Community Infrastructure Levy, and Lewes District Council. The Friends are working in partnership with Lewes District Council, which has taken responsibility for overseeing the build contract.

There will be further reports as the build uncovers artefacts. The dig is being supervised by archaeological experts and some surprising items are coming to light!

Working at the site (left), and a computer-generated image by Crispin Williams of how the site will look on completion