Stories from the book, 'The Police in Lewes.' Part 2
Lewes police station in West Street is a very old building and so there were often stories about the building being haunted, this was brought up during the course of conversation every so often. However, it was always met with a solid negative response.
In the mid 1960’s, during the second half of night duty (10pm – 6am), the town patrol car was driving back towards Lewes from Ringmer when the crew saw a bright light low in the northern sky, they stopped the car, got out and stood there looking at this light and wondering what it could be. They realised that this light was stationary and certainly appeared constant in its brightness. They knew there was a pair of binoculars in the Superintendent’s office and they quickly returned to Lewes and raided his office, but to no avail, there was no sign of the binoculars. It was then that remembered seeing a pair in the CID office, they had borrowed them from the Superintendent. They raced up the stairs they searched every one of the CID rooms, opened the cupboards but there was no sign of the binoculars.
They returned back downstairs by the only staircase there is, the two officers distinctly heard heavy footsteps in the rooms above them – these were the same rooms that they had just vacated. The footsteps went from one end of the room to the other, they were heavy and very distinctive. There was no mistaking the sounds, they could hear. The sounds ended at the John Street end of these rooms. With the knowledge that having just left these rooms and there was no one in there they both raced back up the stairs, looked in these rooms but there was no one there. It was possible for a person to have gone upstairs without being seen by the car crew, totally impossible as well as the building being securely locked. So they asked each other, who and most certainly how?
There not being a plausible answer to these questions they left the building and resumed their patrol. They decided it was best not to mention this incident to the station officer later.
Was the police station haunted? Really, who knows, but it certainly was not creaking floor boards in the CID offices that night. If you had asked Mick Patten that night, he would have answered in no uncertain terms. What became very clear though was the stationary white light landing light of an airliner leaving Gatwick Airport!
Talking about it a few days later it transpired that several men had on various occasions seen an old lady dressed in black hovering I the area at the bottom of the rear staircase, which was near to the passage leading to the cell area. This was close to what would have originally been the external entrance to the barrack block from the main West street building. Each time they had spoken to the figure, it had just ‘melted away.
West Street Police Station
However, overall West Street Police Station did not have the general ‘feel of the supernatural’ whatever that feeling is; for most of the working personnel there. This is probably borne out by the fact that for many years in the 1950’s and early 60’s night refreshments were often taken in the old canteen on the second floor of the old barrack room block. This necessitated walking the full length of the building’s ground floor and then up two flights of stairs. This was often done in virtually pitch darkness with no lighting on whatsoever. The time was between 1 and 3 am. Really, one would have thought that any ghost who was intent of haunting the building would have been manifesting itself in those circumstances.
On the wall of the ground floor of West Street Police Station, close to the doorway, which leads to the back stairway was and probably still is, a stone memorial to all those who died during the First World War. Feeling a little bored during refreshments on one night shift. Reg. Brown suggested the section hold a séance to try and make contact with one of the unfortunates whose name was inscribed on the memorial. The others all agreed although one was rather sceptical. They formed a circle and with their fingertips touching, called on Budd Leonard to appear. Several attempts at contacting him were made without success and so they gave up. It was then that Don Marsh realised that they had got the first and second names transposed in their hurried quest to speak with someone who had died during the First World War, and that was probably the reason no contact had been made.
On another occasion Constable Brian Cawthorne of the Ringmer police station was travelling in his van heading for Lewes when he was followed by a bright light which he said was travelling across some nearby fields. It was keeping a constant distance from him, regardless of his speed. The story was published in the Evening Argus the next day. The following night on being asked to recount the story again, Brian quietly said that it was Venus after all, and please stop keep talking about it? woman in a
The woman in a diaphanous night gown
Another more terrestrial incident happened at Houndean Rise during one particular night duty. The beat constable was on half-hour points and he was due to make his next point at Houndean Rise Call box. This night had, as always seemed to be the case when ‘things’ happened, strange things, a brilliant full moon, which looked larger somehow this night. The Constable suddenly became aware of some sort of movement at the front of a house. On quietly creeping forward to the house, he saw a young woman in a diaphanous night gown run from one end of the front veranda of the house to the other. She stopped, throwing both arms in the air, towards the full moon and then she stood as still as a statue for some minutes just staring up at the moon. After these few minutes, she started to run to the other side of the veranda and repeated what she had just done. She carried out this strange exercise several times. The young woman suddenly, ran off and back into her bedroom, presumably to then go to sleep. The constable then resumed his patrol.
Written and researched by David Rowland.
With grateful thanks to the book, ‘The Police in Lewes.’