The cold of the grave creeping into my buttocks, a pigeon calling, a blackbird singing: I’m in the shade of a solid dark yew in the All Saints churchyard, drawing the sunlit gravestones in front of me. Many of the inscriptions have disappeared, they’re so old, and they’ve become an installation that is more sculptural than commemorative. That’s appropriate, too: the church of All Saints (first mentioned in 1148) has been an arts centre since 1980. And I declare an interest: over the years I’ve played in bands on this stage, had a birthday party here, helped set up the Lewes Junior Film Club adventures here, watched films from its utilitarian seats, drawn it, photographed it, and swept up in it many many times. I love the place.

Inside it’s plain, except for the ornate memorials to the benefactors of the Parish, the great and the good of their times. Iohn and Iane (where I=J) Stansfield – ‘of the Cliffe nere Lewis’ – face each other, kneeling, and separated by their plaque; painted face cracked and dark with age, Iane regards her husband suspiciously, eyebrows raised over divergent eyes. He’s a Gent., though, who ‘hopefvlly ended his mortall life’ in 1626. Iane ‘his deere wife’ died 24 years later.

The sound of the organ drifts through the empty place – above the stage, in an orange glow, a bowed figure playing is half obscured by the deep dark drapes. In the back hall, the mirrors reflect the sinister looping trapeze ropes hoisted up into the high ceiling.

In All Saints there’s salsa, can-can, ska, capoeira, film, drumming, the Oyster café, blues, comedy courses, zumba, art workshops, a toy library, theatre, Nature’s Rhythms… Iohn and Iane had no idea that the All Saints church would become such a lively and creative place. And ‘hopefvlly’ – that’s how we should live.

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