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Storage Chamber and Tunnel to Rear of Nos 20-21

A Grade II Listed Building in Lewes, East Sussex

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Latitude: 50.8734 / 50°52'24"N

Longitude: 0.0133 / 0°0'47"E

OS Eastings: 541752

OS Northings: 110140

OS Grid: TQ417101

Mapcode National: GBR KQ2.46D

Mapcode Global: FRA B6XS.P0B

Plus Code: 9F22V2F7+98

Entry Name: Storage Chamber and Tunnel to Rear of Nos 20-21

Listing Date: 23 March 2011

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1242954

English Heritage Legacy ID: 511639

Location: Lewes, East Sussex, BN7

County: East Sussex

Civil Parish: Lewes

Built-Up Area: Lewes

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Church of England Parish: Lewes St Thomas at Cliffe with Lewes All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Chichester

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518/0/10027 HIGH STREET
23-MAR-11 Storage chamber and tunnel to rear of
Nos 20-21

An early C18 chalk block vault, approximately 19m by 6m, with a northern arched brick entrance, of approximately 10.5m by 1.6m, and later internal partitions and entrance arch.

The entrance to the chamber is via a square north doorway, the door having been removed along with the lintel, although substantial pintles remain on the jambs. On the northern wall of the chamber are two squared recesses (one each side of the entrance passage), which may have housed lamps to illuminate the chamber.

The main chamber has been divided into two sub-chambers with the insertion of a brick wall that runs from floor to ceiling such that the larger chamber has interior dimensions of approximately 15m by 6m and the smaller (southern) chamber has interior dimensions of approximately 4m by 6m. There is a centrally placed doorway to the dividing wall. Further mid-C18 brick-built partitions have been inserted into both chambers. The north-west corner partition is constructed of a different brick and dates from the late C19 or early C20.

A square opening in the centre of the top of the southern wall has been blocked with brick and chalk. Its location suggests that it may have been an access point or hatch leading to Brooman's Lane. Various service features, such as drains, vents and cabling, can be seen within the vault.

Many of the chalk blocks exhibit masons assembly marks in the form of Roman numerals. There are also numerous examples of inscribed graffiti; names, dates and symbols (for example a pick or mattock) with different scripts employed. The earliest examples seen are dated to 1723 and include the names 'loeL. Paine aprill y 20 1723' and 'A Galoway 1723'. Other examples are dated to the later C18 to the C20 - the latest example seen being from 1955.

HISTORY: The chalk-built vaulted structure at 20-21 High Street, Lewes has a presumed construction date, based on its form and the earliest graffiti present, of around 1723. It is likely to have served as a storage facility with a probable access hatch leading onto Brooman's Lane to the south, for the delivery of goods, possibly wine and spirits. A large square door secured the main chamber from the entrance tunnel to the north. Brick partitions within the main chamber appear to have been a secondary insertion and were intended to create individual storage areas. The sub-division may have occurred as early as the mid C18 and was then altered and elaborated through the C19 and into the C20. A later, possibly C19, brick fa├žade was added to the entrance tunnel.

Archaeology South-East (2007), An Archaeological Desk-Based Assessment of Land at 20/21High Street, Lewes, East Sussex. Unpublished Desk-Based Assessment Report.
Archaeology South-East (2010), An Archaeological Evaluation on Land to the Rear of 20-21 HighStreet, Lewes, East Sussex. Unpublished Client Report.
Archaeology South-East (2010), An Archaeological Investigation of a Structure to the Rear of 20-21 High Street, Lewes. Unpublished Client Report.

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: The vault to the rear of 20-21 High Street in Lewes, dating to c1723, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: a well-preserved example of an early-C18 commercial storage vault.
* Rarity: although once common within commercial centres, vaults are now a relatively unusual survival.
* Group value: although not now directly associated with an above-ground building, the vault forms a group with No 22 and other C18 listed buildings in the High Street.

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