Lewes St Michael
St Michaels church is located in the centre of Lewes, a town in Sussex about 8 miles north-east to Brighton.
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Visiting Lewes St Michael
The photos of the church of St Michael’s in Lewes (together with those of Piddinghoe) are certainly the worst on the whole site, as they are quite old. And this despite the fact that we were in Lewes again in 2015 in beautiful weather – but we went straight on by train to Brighton for a Rugby World Cup match, and didn’t take any photos. So we have to visit this church and the whole area again. This is very much a town church, with its south nave wall directly onto the street pavement. It is one of several still remaining within the town and is near to the remains of the 12th century castle. The round tower now has a pebble-dashed exterior, so its underlying fabric of flints cannot be seen. It is dated to the 13th century, as is also the west nave wall. The tower has two circular openings, containing stone quatrefoils, near the top, facing south and west. The tall slender spire has a splayed foot to cover the top of the round part. On the south wall is the dramatic fibreglass figure of St Michael, made in 1976. The church has both north and south aisles, each under its own gabled roof and extending eastwards as far as the chancel does. By 1748 the church had become very dilapidated and extensive building works were necessary. The 14th century south aisle was totally rebuilt, with a facing of knapped and squared flint work, and given two doors on to the pavement. The north nave wall was also rebuilt then, and heightened in the 19th century when the existing west gallery continued all along the north wall as well. In the 19th century an eastern apse was added to the chancel to accommodate the high altar.
The church is now entered by a doorway in the west wall, to the south of the tower. The south arcade of stone octagonal pillars is matched on the north side by wooden pillars, both arcades continuing right to the east wall. The font stands in the north-west nave corner, with 11th century arcading around the bowl. Nearby on the wall is the figure brass of a knight (now headless) of about 1430, perhaps of the de Warrenne Family. Next to it is the demi-figure of a priest, John Brayforde †1457. It is worth opening the north door to go into the small churchyard, which is tightly packed with impressive gravestones and tomb chests, a special place! There is a large memorial on the north wall at the east end of the nave for Sir Nicholas Pelham †1559, and his wife Ann. They are kneeling, facing each other over a prayer desk. Below are the smaller figures of their four daughters and six sons. The south aisle has 17th century altar and reredos, and another highly carved table of the same era. The 19th century reredos to the high altar has five canopied niches and much ornate carving. Most of the fittings reflect the “High Church” worship of the 19th century.