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Lewes Shops

Sometimes you come out of an experience enthused about what you’ve just seen, bursting to tell people about it. I didn’t think this would be the case when I asked Sally White to show me around the exhibition of old photographs of Lewes shops, which is on in Anne of Cleves House at the moment. But it was. “The museum has a large number of original Victorian photographs in storage, and we sorted through them to find out a little more about the history of shopping in Lewes,” she says, as we walk down Keere Street. “Many of these were taken by the Reeves family, but most of the ones on display were taken by a fellow called Bartlett. In those days photography was a much more laborious process, and a special occasion for the shops, who would get their employees to stand outside, as still as they could, while the long exposure shot was taken.” We skip into Anne of Cleves House, and she takes me through its medieval corridors to the exhibition, set up either side of a zig-zaggy vertical board.

Sally has arranged prints from the glass-plated Victorian negatives in her collection alongside smaller colour pictures of what’s there today. Capriccio’s, for example, was once an undertakers. Forbuoys was a butchers called Coppard and Likeman, which adorned its façade for the occasion with Christmas turkeys, its proud proprietor standing on one side with a bowler hat and interesting whiskers. Fur, Feather and Fins, in Cliffe, was a Lipton’s Grocery, with large placards in the window reading ‘No Butter Like Lipton’s’. Boots was Browne and Crossley, a men’s clothing chain and haberdashery, back in the days when people blew their noses more often. continued overleaf...


Suited and Booted: the chemist chain on the Cliffe crossroads was
once a Gentlemen’s Outfitter