Wednesday 19 October 2022

Lewesian Tales

 I went to Lewes for the day on my birthday and returned home with some tall tales to tell.

This unremarkable looking Sussex marble [type of limestone, but looks like marble when polished] table top now lives in the Anne of Cleves house in Lewes. Originally it stood in the hall of Old Malling. On 31st December 1170 the four knights who had killed Thomas a Beckett two days prior, travelled to South Malling [near Lewes] from Canterbury. Upon their arrival they threw their arms onto this very table before they made their way inside for supper. Supposedly the table hurled their arms back at them in protest at their murderous crime.


This is Keere Street. It's also known as Scare Hill because apparently the Prince of Wales [the future George IV] drove a coach and four horses down it at breakneck speed to get to Southover Grange. Most likely only to be a legend.


Tradition has it that a 17th century Lewesian serving girl was accused of stealing a silver spoon from her Employers. Despite there being no proof and her protesting her innocence she was thrown out onto the street. When the house was undergoing repairs many years later the builders are said to have discovered a rat's nest containing not only a mummified rat, but also the silver spoon. They were preserved together in memory of the luckless girl. Knowing people's penchant for concealing things to protect their home from evil spirits I wonder if this wasn't placed there for apotropaic purposes. We shall never know.



Arilx

7 comments:

  1. How interesting! I love the story of the table especially.
    The rat and the spoon remind me of a Tudor building which was a former coaching inn in Walsall, during renovations in the 18th Century they discovered a mummified child'd arm built into the chimney breast - now on display in the local history museum! xxx

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    1. It will come as no surprise that I know of that arm....if I'm ever in the vicinity I will go and see it! Arilx

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  2. Locally we find single boots in walls and bits of old iron beneath hearths. Old-timers say the iron "deflects" witches from coming down the chimney; however, no one has a tale to fit the boots. ?

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    1. One theory is that the boots would distract the witch and lure her away...no idea how that works! Arilx

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  3. The rat and spoon made me sad for the poor girl. There was just absolutely no recourse for the poor back in the day, was there?

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    1. It may not be true, but I'm sure there were many similar instances. Women in service were particularly vulnerable from unwanted pregnancy at the hands of their male Employers. Arilx

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  4. Oh, the poor girl! What happened to her, I wonder?
    Love the table story!

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