Situated on the beautiful South Coast, Lewes is one of England’s most enchanting areas to visit. Close to the vibrant city of Brighton, this pretty town gives you not only the opportunity to be close to nature and sea, but also the chance to delve into the fascinating history of the area.
Lewes has a host of interesting places to explore outside, and the beautiful walks of the South Downs are not to be missed. Chalk hills soar above the buildings of the town and lend themselves to wonderful walks for miles with breathtaking views across the English Channel.
The surrounding South Downs
Home to the Battle of Lewes back in 1264, this ancient town is home to several significant buildings such as Lewes Castle, the remains of Lewes Priory and Wealden Hall House. The latter is known as Anne of Cleves House as though she never resided there, it was given to her as part of her divorce settlement from Henry VIII. It is now a museum where you can explore how the Elizabethan and Tudor people lived – pop into the café and Tudor Tea Garden afterwards and taste a bit of history with one of their Tudor inspired bakes! Not far from Anne of Cleves House and amongst the cobbles in Keere Street, you will find one of the oldest bookshops in the country, The Fifteenth Century Bookshop. This most wonderful building has bookshelves full of books on the outside and is a real treat for collectable and rare books.
If art is your thing, follow the public art trail which highlights various works in the town. Sculptures, statues and paintings are dotted around for all to enjoy, many connected to the history of the area. For little ones, the Lewes Treasure Hunt Trail is great fun – let them discover the history of the town with their own guided map. Peruse the many antique shops and then settle down for something to eat at one of the town’s many restaurants and cafes. Symposium Wine Emporium is a cosy shop and bar where you can do a spot of wine tasting and the rustic Limetree Kitchen is lovely for a cocktail or two followed by some of their modern European dishes. Head to Needlemaker’s for a browse – this captivating building encompasses some of the loveliest shops and specialist foods of the area.
If you can visit Lewes in November, be sure to go to the Lewes Bonfire and Carnival, held annually on Guy Fawkes Night. This fascinating festival honours the date of the uncovering of the famous Gunpowder Plot in 1605 and also commemorates the memory of the Protestant martyrs burnt at the stake during the Marian Persecutions.
"Chalk hills soar above the buildings of the town and lend themselves to wonderful walks..."
Only a few miles out of town, you will find Glyndebourne, an opera house that stages performances throughout the summer and also offers a winter tour. During the summer festival, you can take a picnic to enjoy outside under the stars – do book though as it is a very popular part of the season!
There are masses of South Downs walks to be discovered - walk over Mount Caburn to the village of Glynde or stroll along the River Ouse to Hamsey Place. If you prefer, discover your own walks – download a map, pop a picnic in the car and invent your own route!
Take a look at our collection of Lewes holiday cottages for even more holiday inspiration.