Just 15 minutes away from Brighton by train, Lewes is an atmospheric market town that’s well worth a visit. Nestling at the foot of the South Downs, the town is home to the now legendary Bill’s Café, Harveys Brewery, antique markets, boutiques and quirky independent shops.
If you’re visiting on a Tuesday make sure you head to Lewes Town Hall Market (entrance in Fisher Street, 10am-2pm). Bric-a-brac lovers will be in heaven, with stalls selling everything from old china to vintage fabrics. We picked up some pretty pink glasses (£2) and some vintage reels of cotton (£8). Most of the stalls are run by people over the age of 70 and there’s a café manned by grannies serving tea in smoked glass Pyrex mugs, selling homemade cake.
Just around the corner from the Town Hall you’ll find The Needlemakers, a converted candle factory housing a handful of shops and spacious cafe. In true Lewes style, there’s something for everyone here. Alexis Dove sells gorgeous pieces of jewellery and The Patchwork Dog and Basket is a treasure-trove full of crafty bits and pieces.
Across the road is Lewes Flea Market (14a Market Street), an old Methodist Chapel bursting with a collection of furniture, lighting, glassware, china, linens, retro home wares, jewellery and artwork. The tiny garden at the back is worth a look: this zinc planter (£79) and angelic statue (£65) nearly came back on the train with us.
No trip to Lewes would be complete without a visit to Wickle, the ‘mini department store’. If you can get past the slightly holistic crowd who gather in the small tea shop at the back of the store, you’ll uncover kid’s clothes, toys, gifts, women’s clothing, British-made wool throws and blankets, jewellery, handmade soaps, perfumes, accessories and more. Next door is Wickle for Men, suitably stylish and also host to regularly changing art exhibitions.