Living in Lewes – a Sussex town with a unique culture

May 24th, 2017

Lewes is a well-kept secret town full of history and community spirit nestled in the South Downs. The East Sussex town is mainly known to the residents of Brighton and Hove for its huge bonfire celebrations, when thousands of revellers flock to the streets for a good old knees-up and a fireworks spectacular. But it’s not just in November that Lewes comes alive, quite the contrary. Lewes is one of the most interesting and quirky towns we know, and is soaked in history and tradition. In 2014, The Sunday Times named Lewes in the top 101 places to live in the UK, and we’d certainly agree. Here’s what we love about living and working in Lewes:

Independent shops thrive in Lewes thanks to its own currency

What’s great to see, from both a business and consumer point of view, is that Lewes high street is one of the few in the UK that still has a very healthy share of independent shops, and isn’t littered with big chain bargain stores. There’s also a good mix of antique and artisan shops, within The Needlemakers centre and a must-visit for curiosity shopping is the Church Hill Antiques Centre and for fresh food there’s a weekly market.

The local economy is helped along by the Lewes Pound, the town’s own currency. Citizens can buy the Lewes pound to spend only in Lewes, and the idea is that local shops help to keep the notes in circulation, which ensures the money is kept in the Lewes economy and encourages residents to shop with small businesses.

Opera and proms just a few minutes from town

For a grand night out, Glyndebourne Opera house sits just ten minutes’ drive from Lewes town centre. In the summer time, the Proms in the Paddock event brings Lewes to life for a day of outdoor concerts, stalls and a barbecue from afternoon to late evening. For a less classical, more alternative line up of acts try Lewes Live, also in the summer months. Lewes train station is on the direct lines to London Victoria and Brighton, for a quick hop to city nightlife too. For the family, there’s the annual colourful children’s “Patina” parade in the high street, which all the local schools get involved in, making costumes based on a theme.

Lewes Patina children's parade
Annan the Froebel School at Patina

Traditional pubs a plenty

You’ll never be short of someone to enjoy a fresh roast dinner and a pint of local ale in Lewes. The town is home to Harveys Brewery and not far from Middle Farm, famous for their selection of ciders. There are plenty of traditional pubs to choose from, with wooden beams and horseshoes complimented by a warm welcome. For live music, head to the popular Landsdown Arms.

Walk along the river, around the farm or across the South Downs.

There’s a fair amount of countryside to explore in Lewes. Families with young children can visit Spring Barn farm to get some fresh air and meet the animals, and enjoy a visit to Santa in December. Longer legs may enjoy hiking up the downs, and along the river Ouse, which stretches for 30 miles. Closer to home there’s the historic Lewes Castle, and Anne of Cleves' house.

Riverside living, pent houses and period properties

There’s something to suit all tastes in property across Lewes. There are some stunning new Riverside Homes at Chandlers Wharf, beautiful apartments in old Mansion Houses such as Lewes Mansions and very rarely the opportunity to purchase entire town houses and Grade II listed buildings in the old high street.  Our listings are regularly updated so be sure to browse our Lewes property search for hidden gems.

If you currently live in Lewes and would like a valuation of your property to sell or let, contact our Director David Beaken at