Friday, 3 May 2013

Shops with a story in Lewes High Street

I just want to share a painting from a while ago (pre- blog). These two pretty shops were once part of the same emporium, which in fact used to be a public baths (for getting clean rather than swimming)
By looking at local history books, and also by reading the Diary of a Lewes Lady, covering the day to day life in Lewes of a well-to-do and rather snobby Alice Dudeney, I was able to form a picture of the premises, pre-21st century. The family that ran it were called Dusart, and they sold all manner of things as well as cutting and setting hair.
The buildings had been rebuilt early in the 20th century following a terrible fire, which actually changed the way that fires were fought in Lewes.
I titled this painting Dusarts, Lewes, and pictured Mr Dusart, as I imagine him, at the upstairs window, setting Mrs Dudeney's hair. As a boy, young Mr Dusart saved the lives of his mother and younger sibling by escaping the fire by jumping out of an upstairs window, straight through the glass of the bath house below. His mother and the baby jumped through after him. They all thought young Mr. Dusart had died...but he amazed them all by surviving his heroic act and went on to carry on the family business for many years.
Amazing what you can find out in the reference section! I would love to find out the stories of all the buildings...what could they tell us!!


  1. What an incredible story- and what a brave little boy he must've been!! Thank you for sharing :) xx

  2. Have you read the diary? I can really recommend it. Amazing prejudices but very much of her time! Brings wartime Lewes to life!