Disappearing Lewes

Here’s this week’s reminder of the lost splendour that once graced the streets of Lewes. This is the Congregational Tabernacle, which was built in 1818 as a place of worship for many of Lewes’ prosperous non-conformists, including the brewer William Harvey. A drop off in church attendance after the war, however, meant that many ecclesiastical buildings in the town became redundant and thus fodder for the bulldozer. This decline in Lewes’ moral standards was not all-pervasive and some fine examples remain including the Friends Meeting House in Friars Walk and the Calvinist Jireh Chapel whose grade 1 listed interior is particularly well preserved, presumably out of the fear of god on the part of its congregation. Or at least Ian Paisley, who has been known to visit.

Sadly for the Tabernacle the town planners lacked the foresight to see what a marvellous conversion opportunity it would offer local developers in the early 21st Century and knocked it down in 1954. Since then there have been not one but two dreadful buildings on this site. The first was, by fifties standards, a very modern plate glass fronted building which at one point housed Lewes’ first proper supermarket, Lipton’s. Although one could hardly regard this building as attractive, in retrospect it had charm compared with the Trumpton-inspired shop frontage of today. Anyway, it would at least have made some groovy loft style apartments. SC

Roll over for how it looks now
Tabernackered… Look what they did to this lovely building
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