A10 Banging in the shive (2)These pages showcase some of the findings from the Heritage Lottery Funded Ale and Hearty project in Lewes, East Sussex between 2013-14 around the project theme of brewing and ale, as well as rural related trades and industry in the area.

This information is currently being assembled and captured through a series of 20 oral history interviews, reminiscence sessions in Ringmer and Cooksbridge, a series of project postcards, research at East Sussex Record Office and other related archival information.

There was a shorter stand alone version of the exhibition on Wednesday 2nd October from 7.30pm in Lewes followed by two weeks at Lewes Town Hall Foyer from 6th-21st October which will be open to all daily 9am-5pm (apart from Sunday). We also showed the exhibition at various other  venues in East Sussex.

All project content will be archived at the Keep, the all new purpose built archive in Falmer from the end of January 2014.

The Ale and Hearty exhibition

The project was funded by The Heritage Lottery Fund and match funding was provided through a variety of sources who are to be found in our
acknowledgements and to whom we extend our sincere gratitude. This exhibition gives an insight into the rich cultural heritage of the brewing industry in Lewes and its’ surrounding areas of Sussex. It is designed to appeal to the general reader with an interest in local history or brewing.

Images included in the exhibition:

Lewes Town Hall 2

The exhibition ran along these thematic lines – 

Click on the links above to read the text created by Dr Sam Carroll.

With thanks to John Davey, Hastings Reference Library, and East Sussex Record Office for image permission.

The Book – Ale Tales

In 2013, between May and November, a team of trained volunteers from the Lewes-based Ale and Hearty project recorded a total of twenty oral histories with individuals connected to the brewing industry or the history of brewing in Sussex. This booklet is based upon the themes that have emerged from these collected interviews and each is supported with documentary and photographic resources found during a survey of local archives; both public and private. 

It was produced by project co-ordinator and freelance oral historian Dr Sam Carroll and local teacher and Key Stage 2 expert Louise Collings.


Our book about the Ale and Hearty project including heritage discovered and educational possibilities, addressed the following themes:

  • “Most streets would have at least one brewery” – The old breweries of Lewes.
  • “We had a brewery poised to take advantage” – A revival in traditional brewing.
  • “The bushel baskets were tipped into pokes”- Hop growing and picking in Sussex.
  • “They used to have long leather aprons on” – Draymen and deliveries.
  • “You can only drink singing beer and not fighting beer” – Folk song and ale tales.
  • “Licensing laws encouraged more respectable public houses” – Changes in drinking culture.
  • Learning Resources

Ale Tales full doc with covers Book (pdf format)

You can also view the book here:

Ale and Hearty postcards

We created a series of 6 project postcards for Aleand Hearty using archive images loaned to us, and quotes taken from some of our 20 oral histories collected between 2013-14 about the theme of ale, brewing and hops production. These were created by Dr Sam Carroll.

You can see these below by clinking on the links to view the pdfs of each card:

Postcard 1

Postcard 02

Postcard 03

Postcard 04

Postcard 05

Postcard 06