Resident of Lewes, Citizen of the World

As you will have guessed from the pics below, I’m in Lewes and boy does this town shout about its connections with Tom Paine. There are, as far as I am aware, at least four plaques dedicated to him in the town (two on his residence, one by the bowling green and one on the White Hart Inn where he used to speak at the local debating society).

Aside from this, fans of Harvey’s beer will already know that the brewery produced a very fine American-style (very appropriate) pale ale called Tom Paine, with a fetching picture of the man on the front.

All great stuff, especially in the incongruous setting of Lewes ‘the new Ludlow’ (see below for pics of its gastronomic delights). However, it has to be said that Paine’s time in Lewes really constituted the man’s ‘wilderness years’. He wrote nothing of note during this period, save for a petition complaining about the pay and conditions of excise men (admittedly his first explicitly political piece of work). Paine divided his time between working for the excise and running a tobacco mill here. Neither his excise job (from which he was sacked) nor the tobacconists (which he had to sell) can be classed as a success.

However, his failures here did provide him with the spur to get the hell out of East Sussex and head for North America. The rest is history…..

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Published in: on September 26, 2007 at 8:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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