insideSUSSEX Magazine Issue 08 - October 2015 - Page 71

TOWNSPOTLIGHT S P OT L I G H T O N LEWES Lewes, county town of East Sussex, is a busy, bustling hub of local government, farming, local produce, and is a magnet for tourists who love history and beautiful surroundings. Lewes may only be 4.4 square miles, but what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in beauty. History in Brief The area in and around Worthing was first inhabited around 60,000 years ago. Stone Age settlers found that the land was ri Lewes has been occupied for hundreds of thousands of years; prehistoric artefacts have been found here dating back 400,000 years. But it was after the Roman invasion of 43 AD that the area really came into its own with a market, Roman villas, and the beginnings of the road network we still use today. The settlement was known as Mutuantonis, and was an important Roman town. When the Saxons came they built a castle to keep themselves protected and Mutuantonis became Lewes. The Normans also felt that Lewes should be protected, and it was William 71 de Warenne (first earl of Surrey) who, after William the Conqueror awarded him land that included Lewes, built Lewes Castle that can still be visited today. Lewes has had its fair share of war and death over the years; it was the site of the Battle of Lewes in 1264, as well as being the place where seventeen Protestant martyrs were burned at the stake during the Marian Persecutions (1555-1557). In 1901 a memorial to the martyrs was erected as a pardon. Once the railway came to Lewes in 1846, allowing travel from all directions as well as into London, the town became an important hub of production, as well as a country escape for city dwellers.