History hour team in studio cropped 800Lewes and the Ouse Valley are steeped in history, from ancient archaeological treasures to evidence of our recent past. History Hour reveals Lewes’ past in a fascinating and engaging way, through background briefings and conversations with local experts and enthusiasts. We unearth historical gems, explore the wealth and breadth of public archives and explain how these can help document our own families’ reminiscences and the history underlying where we live.spacer 800 20

Two one hour programmes are sheduled for 2017 this year – Rosie Boxer has had to stand down this year due to other committments but Debby and Andy will be providing some interesting guests and news for those with a historical bent.
Sunday 22nd Oct 12 – 1pm
We welcomed Brigitte Lardinois to the studio to talk about the First World War Light Boxes project run using the wonderful Reeves glass plate archives. We also listened to a few of their audio recordings that can be found at http://www.reevesarchive.co.uk/SSTAGPIV/list.html

In 1858 Edward Reeves opened a Studio in the High Street of Lewes, East Sussex having taken up photography a few years earlier. The studio is now run by his great grandson Tom Reeves and his wife Tania Osband. It still operates as a thriving photographic Studio and shop. Edward Reeves Studio is the oldest surviving Photographic Studio, run by the same family, in the world. Remarkably almost everything has been kept. Over 150,000 glass plates, 100,000 film negatives and around 200,000 digital images – as well as, in the studio, original furniture and props.

Over 60 volunteers have been helpng to research, log and describe all the plates and pictures in the archive.

She also described the Lewes Remembers project which is aiming to match up all the 237 men (and one woman) listed on the Lewes War Memorial with local men of a similar age. The men will all be walking from the soldiers home addresses with a lit torch to arrive at war memorial where the names will be read out and the flame will be doused. The is still a need for men in the 20-30 year old age group so if anyone wants to be included please call in at Reeves’ shop at 158 High Street or email reeveslewes@tiscali.co.uk. The event will be on Remembrance Sunday at 5pm. There is no need to be a member of a Bonfire Society even though all seven Lewes Bonfire Societies have been closely involved in the organising of this commemoration. Help is also sought from local women to help marshal and support. The event wll be filmed so people do not need to feel they have to be there to witness it.
David Arnold,  historian, and weekly local history columnist for the Sussex Express shared some of his favourite stories. He described the creating of the chapel which can be visited once a year on Heritage Open Days at Priory School, Mountfield Road. When it was Lewes Grammar School its Headmaster Neville Bradshaw created the chapel in memory of 55 of his former pupils killed in World War II. A registered war memorial, the chapel was completed in 1960. http://www.sussexexpress.co.uk/news/chapel-s-unique-role-in-remembering-sacrifice-1-7946892
Sunday 29th Oct: 12-1pm
 We heard a short extract from a conversation with some students from the University of Kent in Lewes to study Tom Paine’s influence on the American Revolution.
Chailey residents Peter and Sally Varlow were then telling us about the previously hidden history of their 500 year old medieval house. Called Coppard’s after the Sussex family that lived there they have now extensively researched and restored the house. They described the Chailey that the people who lived in the house would have known with its cattle and leather working industries. They explained how they went about researching the history of the house both architecturally and where it fitted socially in the Chailey of the  15th/ 16th centuries.

In An Old House front cover thumbnail

In An Old House by Peter & Sally Varlow, 320 pages hardback, 450 illustrations,  is available from www.pomegranate-press.co.uk/sussex £30 inc P&P or from the shop in the Barbican in Lewes

We then heard from Brian Schofield, local history teacher who described the precautions that were taken in case of german invasion at the start of WW2 including the  pillboxes of the Ouse Valley and also defenses, gun emplacements, tank traps etc built into the townscapes of Lewes and other front line towns. Finally he described the “suicide squads” that were formed to act as a Resistance and to cut off the supply lines should England have fallen to the enemy. Noone spoke about these at the time and their existence is now only just being uncovered. Chillingly they only had food for two weeks at most.
Brian also described some of his research on the smugglers and highwaymen of the roads of Sussex.