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  • High Street
    Lewes BN7 1XN
  • Phone number 01273 474723

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  • 5.0 star rating
    5/4/2012

    The archetectural aspects of this lovely church has been well appraised in the previous reviews, particularly dmjas he always does brilliantly. Soooo, I can only reveal how my wife and I feel about the peace and calm that can be had by slipping into here to a while to get out of the hum-drum busy world yards away.
    It has the same feel as St Thomas' down on Cliffe High in that you feel the word Sanctuary!!
    (As a point of interest next door above the hall is the library for the Sussex Family History Group)

  • 5.0 star rating
    8/1/2010
    First to Review

    Walking along the treachorously Icy High Street of Lewes on a bitingly cold, snowy day, I came across St Michael-In-Lewes, a 12th century church, welcome to all for prayer and contemplation.

    With the pure white snow clinging to the nearly sheer face of the church spire, and the surrounding areas all blotted out by the whiteness, the place looked like something out of a German fairy tale, set in a quaint little village somewhere in the Alps. Needless to say it was pretty darned beautiful, and I would recommend coming here, because architecturally the building is very interesting and quite rare.

    The clock that hangs of the side, gives the whole place that slightly disney-esque fairy tale, village feeling, which I guess in many ways Lewes is!

  • 5.0 star rating
    2/7/2010

    Located right on the High Street in Lewes, yet strangely hidden, St Michael's is a fascinating amalgam from different periods, with a distinctive and rare round tower, with a tall shingled spire.

    History

    The church dates from the late 12th or early 13th century, the actual date a puzzle as the pointed arches indicate a 13th century, but the round tower is more typical of the 11th or 12th centuries. There are two others of similar design in Sussex. The list of rectors goes back to 1283.

    The church was rebuilt in the 14th century with the addition of a south aisle, the arcade of which survives. However, the church suffered badly after the Reformation (Lewes being a fiercely Protestant town) and was semi-derelict by the 18th century.

    This necessitated a significant rebuilding in 1748, in which a north arcade was added, and the south arcade extended - unusually in wood - but in a vaguely matching style. A further rebuilding in 1884 extended the chancel, remodelled the interior and replaced three Georgian windows in the south wall with Gothic versions.

    The church

    The most distinctive external feature is the tower, now rendered, with a single pointed lancet window, and a later trefoil window above. The tower is adorned with a prominent sculpture of St Michael by Harry Phillips, erected in 1976.

    The 18th century frontage to High Street is an attractive example of square and knapped flintwork, with two doors, each surmounted by rounded windows, and the three Gothic windows inserted in 1884.

    Inside, despite the dark and atmospheric interior, one can clearly identify the distinction between the original 14th century arcade of slender Gothic arches, and the 18th century wooden versions - painted a slightly odd chocolate colour. At the west end of the south aisle is an original lancet window, an equivalent on the north side now blocked and infilled with a Victorian wall painting of St Pancras.

    The fittings are of extensive interest. Behind the attractive Victorian font are two brasses, relocated from the floor.

    The older brass, dated around 1430, is of a knight in full armour, now sadly headless, a lion at his feet. One heraldic shield survives. He may be a member of the extended de Warenne family (who built Lewes castle), possibly John Waryne, a member of the household of Henry IV.

    Adjacent is a half brass to John Braydforde, (d. 1457) a former rector of St Michael's. His brass has a wonderfully touching expression.

    On the north wall, a 16th century classical style memorial to Sir Nicholas Pelham shows him and wife facing in prayer, their ten children as mourners below. He is famous for his defence of Seaford against a French force which had previously sacked Brighthelmstone (modern Brighton). A wonderful inscription on the monument has a play on his name:

    His valr's proofe, his manlie virtues prayse;
    Cannot be marshall'd in this narrow roome;
    His brave exploit in great King Henry's dayes,
    Among the worthye hath a worthier tombe.
    What time the French sought to have sack't Seafoord,
    This Pelham did repel them back aboord.

    Opposite are the remains of the monument to George Goring, MP for Lewes, (d. 1601) and on the north wall a brass memorial records the life of Dr Gideon Mantell, (1790-1852), a local doctor, geologist and paleontologist. He discovered first the teeth and then a skeleton of an Iguanadon, now on show in the Natural History Museum, and is credited with helping inaugurate the scientific study of dinosaurs.

    There are two paintings, one large 17th century canvas of the Descent from the Cross, possibly by Balucchi, and one of the Madonna and child, thought to be Spanish of 17th century.

    Finally, the reredos is by celebrated Victorian Gothic architect J L Pearson.

    Through a door in the north wall, steep steps (formed from tomb slabs) lead up to the small but tranquil graveyard. A surprising space for the town centre, from the rear there are fine views of Lewes Castle's keep.

    Practicalities

    The church is normally open during weekdays until 5pm. The graveyard may be closed if the steps are wet.

    The church is part of the united benefice that includes St Anne's and St Thomas a Beckett in Cliffe. There is a Sunday Mass at St Michael's at 10.30am.

    • Qype User claire…
    • Lewes, East Sussex
    • 0 friends
    • 1 review
    5.0 star rating
    2/3/2013

    Been digging into my family past found Samuel g pryior lived behind this church in westgate lane he was a pig farmer and when he was 83 yrs old in 1911 was an inmate in a workhouse just outside lewes this church got some charactor to it will be taking trip down here in the summer.

    • Qype User Harmon…
    • Brighton
    • 12 friends
    • 142 reviews
    5.0 star rating
    29/1/2009

    This church is pretty much unique. It sits sideways along the High Street - the southern edge of the wall of the nave is smack on the pavement of the High Street. The walls are crazy flint - flint is knapped into brick type shapes often, or standard ovals, but this kind is just irregular lumps of stone fitted in any which way, exactly like vertical crazy paving.

    The church clock is a real feature of the High Street - it reaches right out over the street, hung from a standard of sorts, which definitely gives a particular flavour to the street. The spire is slightly spiral, I'm sure, though I can't find anything about it. Its quirky, and very photogenic. There's a square secondary steeple right by the clock, and once you enter the little courtyard that houses the entry to the church proper, you find a (weathered bronze?) sculpture hung on the wall. Very powerful.

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