Article date 30/7/20

Picture shows the building to be converted to the rear and the drive on which cars are to be parked.

The Covid epidemic has knocked voluntary groups providing attractions for six.  So it is not surprising that they are desperate for money.

But the latest actions by the Sussex Archeology Society (Sussex Past) suggest that part of the heritage in the county is at risk.  AND YOU ONLY HAVE UNTIL 3RD AUGUST TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT.

They have made a planning application to turn the storage building at the back of Anne of Cleves House in Lewes into a house.  You can see the application at https://planningpublicaccess.southdowns.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?keyVal=QBM59HTUG6500&activeTab=summary and can make comments until the end of this coming Monday.

It is clear that Sussex Past wants to sell the building as it says the application is vital to raise money.

So far as I can tell about one third of the garden of Anne of Cleves House will be done away with.  The existing garage which currently houses vehicles out of site will also be done away with and East Sussex Council has said that the occupants of the new house will not be eligible for parking permits, so there will be vehicles parked on the drive to the building  which are likely to obvious from the garden and the house.  The character of the Anne of Cleves garden will be fundamentally changed.

According to local historian Graham Mayhew the society was only given permission to build the storage facility in the 1970s because  it was to be  used to store artifacts that were not able to be displayed.  The society was and apparently is, very short of spaces to store these artifacts and it is not clear what will happen to them if the building is sold.

It looks as though, long before covid, Sussex Past failed to maintain the building, but before that it was in good use.

Former assistant curator Stella Bellem , in her objection, highlights the important use the store has had for conserving artifacts and the use made of it in the past by researchers and students.

Former curator Fiona Marsden says the building “was specifically designed to allow supervised access on application, and it featured dedicated study areas for this purpose. In recent years health and safety concerns were sometimes given as an excuse for not allowing access, but they should be easier and cheaper to address in this modern building than in the Society’s historic building”

The Eye understands that many of the artifacts are directly related to Lewes.  It is not clear whether or not these will be stored in the town in future and how researchers and students will access them.
A picture showing the site of the proposed changes is in the online version of this article at www.leweseye.co.uk

NOT THE FIRST TIME

This is not the first time that Sussex Past has got into trouble because of its fundraising activities.  Some years ago it had to stop hosting parties at Michelham Priory in Upper Dicker because of complaints of noise from local residents (although maybe the residents were just very sensitive)

The Eye had cause to visit the Sussex Past archive in the High Street a year or so ago.  Most of the collection had been thankfully transferred to the Sussex County Archive at the Keep. Thankfully because what remained was so poorly catalogued that it was extremely difficult to find the document that you were looking for.

Although this is a difficult time the Eye wonders whether there should be changes in the management of Sussex Past’s sites, which include Lewes Castle, Bull House, the Priest House at West Hoathly and the Long Man of Wilmington, or to the management of the organisation.

MAKING YOUR VIEWS HEARD

Please make comments at https://planningpublicaccess.southdowns.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?keyVal=QBM59HTUG6500&activeTab=summary before the end of Monday

It looks as if the National Park has decided to let Lewes District Council decide on the application. Sometimes council officers decide these cases on their own.  This is not always good idea.  You may contact the district councillor for your ward  to make sure that the case gets debated at their next planning meeting on 17 March.

This is particularly important if you live in the Priory Ward in Lewes, in which Anne of Cleves House is situated.  The councillors for the ward are :
Imogen Makepeace (also on the planning committee)
Matthew Bird
Ruth O’keeffe

You might also want to ask your Lewes Town Councillor why no comment from the Town Council appears on the comments on the application.  Councilor Mayhew has made an individual comment and there is no reason why others should not do the same