Lewes has a strong brewing heritage, at one time having nine breweries in the town, and only seven churches. Today, of course, only the award-winning and much loved Harveys Brewery remains in Cliffe High Street. The town was also lucky enough to have 63, yes 63, public houses in 1887.
While the current building of the Brewers Arms dates from 1905, there has been a public house on this site since the seventeenth century. It would have been just inside the Westgate wall of the town.
Deeds held at the Lewes Records Office show that in 1696 the property comprised a messuage, brewhouse, slaughterhouse and stable buildings. The demise of the neighbouring Bull House as an inn at this time was the probable impetus for No 91 High Street becoming a public house.
In 1727 and 1733 the owner, Erasmus Rowe, was referred to at The Red Lion; his successor John Hayward leased this house as The Ship to John Bishop in 1744. This name is thought to have religious origins rather than nautical ones, The Ship symbolising the Ark as a place of shelter. The churchwardens of St Michael’s, opposite the pub, used to hold their parish meetings here. Perhaps they influenced the name change.
The pub only became known as the Brewers Arms on its purchase by Obediah Elliot, in honour of himself as the owner of a brewery in Fisher Street, and already the tenant of the house, in 1769.
The pub was rebuilt in 1905 by the brewers Page & Overton of the Shirley Brewery in Croydon. Their impressive terracotta signs can still be seen either side of the front door.
The current owners Kevin and Joan Griffin bought the pub in 1994, and run it together with their son Liam, daughter Kathy and son in law Paul Simmonds.