1. How old is the Sussex Archaeological Society?
In 1846, when a new railway line, to the south of historic town of Lewes, was being dug, the remains of Lewes Priory, founded by William de Warenne and his wife, Gundrada, were uncovered. This astonishing discovery led to the founding of the Society, which has been in existence ever since, making it one of the oldest archaeological societies in the world!
2. What does the Society do today?
The Society is one of a number of County Archaeological Societies, which opens and runs museums as well as carrying archaeological research activities.
The Society has been a museum body since 1850 and now opens six museums across East and West Sussex as well as caring for a number of archaeological sites such as the Long Man of Wilmington.
Periodically archaeological fieldwork is carried out and regular research is undertaken into the significant archaeological collections and written archives of the Society. The Sussex Archaeological Collections journal is annually produced with an array of articles on archaeological and historic topics.
The Society has a strong focus on local history and education and our reference library at Barbican House in Lewes is a leading resource for archaeologists and historians with particular interests in Sussex. We also have two small specialist libraries at Fishbourne Roman Palace and Michelham Priory.
In addition to this, a range of regularly events are organised for members and non-members including guided walks, talks and conferences. New ideas are always welcome, and many of these events are run by members who wish to share their current research or just their enthusiasm for a particular site!
3. How is the Society funded?
The Society receives no public funding and has to generate funds to cover all of its responsibilities and activities. Around eighty five percent of the income is through admissions to its museums, its cafés and shops and funds derived from commercial services. Grants and donations make up about ten percent of the Society’s income and membership subscriptions and research derived income contribute the remainder, The Sussex Archaeological Society is a registered charity (no. 207037) and company.
The Society has a unique and significant responsibility for wonderful properties and collections across Sussex. Financial support is needed to be able to continue supporting all of these sites and different activities over the long term. Given that no public funding is received, philanthropic support from donors is absolutely critical and any contribution, of any size is extremely beneficial and very welcome.
For more information on the many ways in which you can help support the Society, please visit Support Us. Your contributions will make a real difference.
4. How is the Society Run?
The Society is governed by a Council of Trustees who are elected by the Society’s members, and run by a team of paid staff and supported by many volunteers.
5. Membership of the Society
The Society is proud to be a membership charity where members help play a key role. Membership currently stands at just under 3,000 and always happy to welcome new members. Different membership types are available to support different interests and circumstances – for example, the family membership options allow you to take all your children to any of our historic sites for free.
Please visit Become a Member for more information. We hope you will join!
6. What happens when I become a member?
Members enjoy a range of benefits, including free entry to six beautiful, historic sites and museums; unlimited use of the specialist library at Barbican House, Lewes; subscription to the informative magazine Sussex Past & Present, as well as the annual journal Sussex Archaeological Collections; and much more.
There is a strong sense of community among the most active members, and once you have joined the Society, would welcome your active involvement.
For more information please visit our Become a Member page.
7. Can I become a volunteer for the Society?
Absolutely – dedicated volunteers are a critical part of the Society’s success, and are always happy to welcome new people to the team.
Visit Volunteer to see examples of some of the duties volunteers are involved in, and all of the contact information you will need to get in touch.
8. Can I hire one of your properties for my event?
Yes, a range of event opportunities, including Weddings, Civil Ceremonies, and Corporate Events are available.
Please visit Venue Hire for more information or contact the historic site you are interested in directly.