Fitzroy House

+44 (0)1273 476499

inside Fitzroy House

Fitzroy House

Sitting in a prime location in the heart of the County Town of Lewes in East Sussex, Fitzroy House is a beautiful rather forbidding Victorian building abutting the pedestrian shopping precinct. The Tardis from Doctor Who comes to mind; as you walk through the beautiful double oak doors you step into the world of neo-Gothic architect, Sir George Gilbert Scott with an entrance hall full of curved arches and stone pillars, turquoise ceiling and an oak bannistered stairway with Fleur de Lis iron railings. The original tiled floor leads you through double doors into a domed glass-roofed octagonal space with a balcony full of cascading flowers around the entire perimeter, reminiscent of the Globe Theatre or Spanish hacienda piazza if the fountain is in use.

Fitzroy House was built in 1862 on the former site of a large mansion called The Friars on the instruction of Hannah Fitzroy (nee Rothschild) as a Memorial Library in honour of her deceased husband the Right Honourable Sir Henry Fitzroy, a long time MP for Lewes. Hannah commissioned Queen Victoria's favourite architect Sir George Gilbert Scott, (who created the Albert Memorial in London) to design what has been described as “one of the best small Gothic buildings in the country”

In 1897 it was adopted by the town of Lewes as the first public library and remained so until 1956. It was said to have been frequented by Virginia Woolf herself!

After that time it became offices but as gothic buildings fell out of fashion and the country was in recession, it was suggested that the building be demolished as so many around it were. Demolition began but the building was saved and restored by the vision and hard work of the Franks family and friends and the Friends of Lewes.

It became their family home for the next 40 years and in that time a railway via-duct was removed next door, a by-pass for Lewes was built and the road outside Fitzroy was pedestrianised which is now teeming with the life of markets, craft sales, street performers and social gathering.

Now on to the next chapter in the life of this illustrious and gracious gem of a building.......

Fitzroy House - beautiful rather forbidding Victorian building in the heart of the County Town of Lewes in East Sussex

Fitzroy House - beautiful rather forbidding Victorian building in the heart of the County Town of Lewes in East Sussex

Alison Grant Fitzroy House
an event at Fitzroy House

Events at Fitzroy House

We are pleased to announce that Fitzroy House will be open during the Lewes Artwave Festival, this September 2021.

We hold many varied and interesting events at Fitzroy House. You can read some lovely reviews here

Due to the current COVID situation, please check back for more details as we approach the opening of each event.

The Lewes Library Story
with Anthea Arnold

Talk

11th September 2021

Doors open 7pm for 7.30 start (limited seating)

For reservations <Contact Us>

An account of how the Library came to be built and how the Lewes Library Society became a key part of the Fitzroy story.

Anthea already knew Alison Grant, the owner of Fitzroy House, when she came to live in Lewes, three years ago. She was keen to find out as much as she could about its life when it was a library: the funding by Hannah Rothschild; the building by George Gilbert Scott; the original use of it by the Library Society of Lewes; and its life as a public library.

The talk covers all these from its donation to the Council in 1862 until 1956, when it ceased to be a library.

Fitzroy House

Lewes & Castle

Alison Grant Fitzroy House Fitzroy-House
£0.00

Fitzroy House
Rescue and Restoration

Talk - after "The Lewes Library Story" (above)

11th September 2021

Doors open 7pm for 7.30 start (limited seating)

For reservations <Contact Us>

A pictorial ‘before and after’ look at the restoration and transformation from public library to family home; a first-hand account of the rescue of the building by the Franks family by Eleanor Austin

Fitzroy Memorial Library had been left semi derelict for several years when Jim Franks was commissioned to survey it. One thing led to another and eventually Jim took ownership and the family restoration project began.

It took 3 years to make habitable, involved family and friends and 1000's of hours but became a very special, albeit unusual, family home for 40 years.

We will be launching our fundraising drive to begin much needed repairs and work to create the Arts Hub for Fitzroy House, one in which it expands to become a place to tell stories through paintings, ceramics, poetry and spoken word,music, film, performing arts and theatre, and collaborations of mixed media.

Fitzroy House

Fitzroy House

Alison Grant Fitzroy House Fitzroy-House
£0.00

The Ladies of Miller's Story
with Diana Crook

Talk

18th September 2021

Doors open 7pm for 7.30 start (limited seating)

For reservations <Contact Us>

A wonderful talk exploring the Ladies' links with the Charlestonians and other well-known figures, their range of exhibitions during the war, and the rude names and jokes they managed to attract.

In 1939 two remarkable sisters purchased the former home of a miller in Lewes High Street and converted the stables into an art centre. From there, with the help of their Bloomsbury friends, the ladies kept the flag of culture flying during the war.

Afterwards they set up the influential Miller’s Press, encouraging artists to experiment in lithography. This entertaining account documents the ladies’ earlier years and the tragedy that inspired their artistic commitment, as well as describing cultural life in Lewes during and after the war.

event poster

Millers portrait

Alison Grant Fitzroy House Fitzroy-House
£0.00

The Ladies of Miller's
A tale of Wartime Arts in Lewes

Exhibition

11th-12th, 18th-19th and 25th-26th September 2021

Doors open 10am-4pm

We have been been offered a collection of pottery and art work by Caroline Lucas and Frances Byng Stamper.

Known as "The Ladies of Millers" who created Millers Gallery in the High Street, in order to revive the Arts during World War Two, the exhibition includes a ceramics, lithograph printing press, oil paintings, sculpture, an art school, and plans for a theatre in collaboration with Maynard Keynes, sadly never completed.

Theirs will be the story we tell at the exhibition.

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11 - 26 September, find out more here


Also exhibiting at Fitzroy is John Worth, a painter and photographer displaying abstract paintings, sketches and photographs inspired by music and landscapes.

Read more about John <here>

and on <Instagram>

event poster

Two figures plate
Lithograph bridge

Alison Grant Fitzroy House Fitzroy-House
£0.00

Strange South Downs
with Julian Bell

Talk

25th September 2021

Doors open 7pm for 7.30 start (limited seating)

For reservations <Contact Us>

Julian Bell talks about Harold Mockford, the great senior artist of this region of England.

The oil paintings of Mockford, who was born in Eastbourne in 1932, deliver a unique poetic vision of downland landscape that has long held the admiration of his fellow Sussex artists. Bell will try to put this work in context, relating it to other art of the locality and to the history Mockford has lived through.

Julian Bell is a painter and art writer who has long been based in Lewes. His books include What is Painting? and Vincent van Gogh, and he often contributes to the London Review of Books and New York Review of Books.

Plain, an exhibition of new paintings by Bell, will open at the Star Gallery, Lewes on 1 October - find out more <here>

Julian Bell

Julian in his studio

Alison Grant Fitzroy House Fitzroy-House
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Reviews and Testimonials

It's easy to talk about ourselves, but here are some of the lovely things other people have said....

A Lewes Life. Mrs Dudeney's Diary

September 2019

A play reading by local actors of Mike Turner's dramatization of Mrs Dudeney's Diary from 1916 to 1944, edited by Diana Crook and produced by Alison Grant.

Rated 5/5 based on 3 customer reviews

"Fitzroy House is an excellent venue and I applaud you for making such an interesting building into an arts venue. I enjoyed every minute of the evening"

"I enjoyed the event enormously – am not normally a theatre lover but thought the cast were brilliant , particularly Mrs D"

Alison Grant Fitzroy House Fitzroy-House
£0.00

Carrie Tree album Launch

May 2019

The amazing Carrie Tree is launching her new album at Fitzroy House. Carrie and a specially created band, (including Sophia Efthimiou on harp & harmonies, Rowan Sterk on percussion, Keith Ellis on clarinet and Carrie's twin brother Mark Woodward on bass and harmonies), will be sharing songs from her new album 'The Canoe' as well as a few familiar favourites. "After many unforeseen twists, turns and beautiful adventures, there is definitely a good excuse for celebration for it's birth! I would love to share this evening with you" Carrie.

Rated 4/5 based on 1 customer reviews

“"It was up there with one of the most favourite and special musical evenings of my life, so I feel just really grateful ..... that we could hold it in that incredible space! ....It gives so much to people - to be held in a venue like that... tapping into a lineage and memory that feels so vital and nourishing for us to feel."

Alison Grant Fitzroy House Fitzroy-House
£0.00

How to get to Fitzroy House

By Foot or by Bike

Fitzroy House is located at the bottom end of Lewes High Street on the edge of the pedestrianised street and opposite Costa. We encourage people to come by foot or bike if possible and there are bike racks situated in front of and behind the building. Please ensure your bike is securely locked.

By Car

From the A27 take the Lewes, East Grinstead, Tunbridge Wells exit onto the A26 at the Southerham Roundabout. Go through the Cuilfail Tunnel and take the first exit left at the roundabout after the tunnel onto Malling Street/A2029. Continue over next roundabout onto Phoenix Causeway and at the traffic lights continue onto Friars Walk B2193. Fitzroy House will be on the left hand side, on the edge of the pedestrianised street and opposite Costa. Short term parking can be found behind Fitzroy House or long stay on North Street.

By Bus

Lewes is well connected to Brighton and Tunbridge Wells by the frequent 28 and 29 bus services. Other local bus services operate to plan your journey visit Traveline website

By Train

Lewes is linked by services from London Victoria & London Bridge, Southampton, Ashford and Brighton with connecting services to London Gatwick and Newhaven Port. Fitzroy House is a 0.5 mile walk from the train station. National Rail Enquiries Tel: 08457 48 49 50 (local call rate)

Alison Grant

+44 (0)1273 476499



Fitzroy House

Fitzroy House,Cultural Venues
10 High Street,
Lewes, East Sussex.
United Kingdom, BN7 2AD.

"The architectural legacy of a Victorian love story"
Alexandra Loske, from her book
'111 places in Brighton and Lewes that you shouldn't miss'