If you’re looking for ideas for things to do in Lewes in East Sussex, please read on for some of the best! Lewes is the county town of East Sussex with a population of under 20,000. It’s a perfect destination for a day out or as a base from which to explore the Lewes district.
Lewes is a small town with a big heart. Most historians agree that Lewes’ name derives from the Old English ‘hlaews’ (‘hills’ or ‘mounds’) as Lewes is built into the slopes either side of the Ouse Valley, giving its inhabitants sturdy legs to go with their stout hearts. It was here that Simon de Montfort fought the Battle of Lewes against the King and where Tom Paine, author of ‘The Rights of Man’ once lived. Lewes has long been known for its spirit of independence and the inhabitants are proud of its signiﬁcant history stretching back to Saxon times. But it’s not all about the history
There are lots of things to do in Lewes in East Sussex. Lewes is a great place to shop with so many independent, antique and quirky shops. It’s also the perfect place to stop for a bite to eat or a drink in one of our historic pubs. Lewes also boasts a working brewery situated in the heart of the town. If you are visiting on a Tuesday, you may be lucky enough to see the Harveys dray horses delivering the beer.
Grange gardens were once the private garden of the grange built in 1542 by William Newton and briefly the home of John Evelyn the diarist. The gardens are a little piece of heaven on earth right in the centre of Lewes town, a lovely peaceful thing to do! ‘The Grange’ as it is known by the locals, is a public walled garden split by the Winterbourne stream. It is a delightful labyrinth of nooks and crannies including a peace garden, fountain and disused well. PLEASE NOTE: Dogs are not permitted in the Grange gardens.
Lewes Priory park is a great spot for the whole family, rich in history and opportunities to picnic and play. It is here, in the 11th century, monks came from Cluny in France to establish the first Cluniac priory in England and the site with its evocative remains still has an air of tranquility and serenity. The Park is open throughout the year and entrance is free (That’s always a bonus when you are looking for lots of things to do!).
Up on the hill overlooking the town is our most famous landmark Lewes Castle. It was built by Norman general William de Warenne soon after the 1066 invasion and has dominated the town for nearly 1000 years. From the top you get a fine 360 degree view of Lewes and its hinterland.A great stop for those of you looking for historical things to do, along with a visit to Anne of Cleves House.
This beautiful medieval timber house was bequeathed to Henry VIII’s fourth wife – Anne of Cleves as part of her divorce settlement. Highlights include the authentically furnished kitchen and a museum which exhibits artefacts from Lewes’ past , including the mysterious mummified rat and silver spoon.You can also dress up in Tudor costumes and get a feel for what life was really like for past residents before taking tea in the garden.
Harveys Brewery has been a landmark in Lewes for 200 years and is a family business spanning eight generations. Harveys is renowned throughout the South East of England for its wonderful range of traditional cask ales. They select the finest raw materials and brew within a traditional brew-house. You can sample a pint in one of our historic pubs or pick up some of their unique bottles from their brewery shop.
Here in Lewes we also have our own local currency. Tom Paine, author of ‘The Rights of Man’ once lived in our town and now resides on the face of the Lewes Pound notes. The Lewes Pound was launched in 2008 to celebrate Lewes and support local shops and the local community. Pick up some Lewes Pounds from Lewes Town Hall, Harveys Brewery Shop in Cliffe, Laporte’s Café, Cheese Please (opposite the TIC), Frank Richards Butchers at the top of the High St or at the Farmers Market (see details of markets below). You can also pick up souvenir packs at the Lewes Tourist Information Office.
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WHY NOT VISIT ONE OF OUR LOCAL MARKETS?
If you’re looking for crafty things to do in Lewes, the Craft Market offers locally-crafted ceramics, silver, homewares, accessories, soft furnishings, artwork, textiles, jewellery, glass and much, much more!
The first Saturday of every month – 10am to 4pm at the Market Tower, Lewes. See you there!
This is a small but perfectly formed food market selling fresh, local produce, takeaway nibbles and light meals suitable for a picnic. From smoked fish to homemade bread, from local cheese to oriental dim sum, this is a foodie’s delight. Held most Fridays 9.30am -1.30pm Market Tower ,Lewes Town.
Vibrant and long running Farmers Market with only local producers.
Operates on 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month. Located on Cliffe Precinct.