Lewes isn’t as quaint as it looks. This steep South Downs county town may be home to a Norman castle, picturesque monastic ruins, multiple antique shops and – oh come on now – England’s oldest tulip tree. But, like the flood-prone Winterbourne Stream that winds through the 16th-century Southover Grange Gardens, Lewes has a rebellious undercurrent. The famous 18th-century revolutionary Thomas Paine lodged over a tobacco shop here, and the narrow twittens are home to many conspiratorial bookshops, folk pubs and artist cooperatives. The town’s bacchanalian spirit rises up every year at the famous annual Lewes Bonfire. Lewes is also the birthplace of Harveys, Sussex’s best-loved real ale. One old Harveys building is now home to Lewes’s latest, characteristically independent addition: community cinema, The Depot.
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