Exploring the Lamb Inn cellars

Natalie Lennol General Manager Lamb Inn in the Crypt SUS-140922-094613001
Natalie Lennol General Manager Lamb Inn in the Crypt SUS-140922-094613001

One of Eastbourne’s most popular venues threw open the doors of its cellars during a recent heritage weekend attracting more than 150 visitors.

The Lamb Inn in Old Town – one of the oldest pubs in the country – is steeped in history and cellars and a crypt beneath the public bar date back to 1180.

Downstairs at the Lamb is what is left of the monastic house, a Norman vaulted chamber together with some tunnels leading from the Lamb to the Parsonage by the side of St Mary’s Church.

Keen historian Adrian Carter said, “The Lamb was built as a clergy house as part of the development of the church then called St Michael’s and would have housed the clergy. In its early life in 1180/1190 through into the 13th century, it was an almonry, part of a cell which may or may not have been part of the Cluniac Priory of St Pancras. Six to 12 monks or clergymen would have lived here providing alms to the poor people of Eastbourne who came for handouts. Providing alms meant quite a lot of thronging out on the street and because the monks presumably wanted a safe conduct from their home to the parsonage, tunnels were built which are sadly now collapsed and you can no longer get through. The entrance to the tunnel can be seen.

“And visitors can also see in perfect form the monastic vault, also known as a Norman or Plantagenet vault which is a beautiful thing with stone beams going up to a point with boss work at the very apex which suggests to me a dedication to the family of Curthose, a family of Norman knights who arrived with William the Conqueror in 1066 and were given considerable land in this area.”

For a video tour visit www.eastbourne.herald@jpress.co.uk and to book a tour call the Lamb on 720545.