Walking with Dinosaurs talk

There’s a chance to find out more about the park in South London where you can Walk with Dinosaurs – although these are not as we imagine them now. These Dinosaurs were ‘given flesh’ in the first attempt at three-dimensional life-like reconstructions when they formed the centrepieces of Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins’s inspired Crystal Palace geological islands. More here


Ellinor Michel chair of the Friends of Crystal Palace Dinosaurs http://cpdinosaurs.org/ will speak in Lewes for the Gideon Mantell Memorial Lecture* about the challenges and  importance of these models. She is a taxonomist and evolutionary biologist at the Natural History Museum.

Date of talk Friday 9 February 2018 7.30pm at the Linklater Pavilion, Railway Lane, Lewes BN7 2FG. Entry £3. Contact for more information debby.matthews[at]yahoo.co.uk.

* Mantell was born in St Mary’s Lane Lewes on 3 February 1790 and spent much of his life in Lewes as doctor, geologist, early palaeontologist and writer. Every year around this time we invite a speaker on a related theme to present a talk.


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Recording the Lewes Avalanche 1836

Mantell was living in Brighton when the terrible snow storms of Christmas 1836 swept across Europe. The winds created a large crest of snow on the chalk cliffs above South Street in Lewes. On Boxing Day this fell and completely smashed the houses in Boulder Row. He records the event in his diary. The full account can be read in the Sussex County Magazine i (1927) pp70-74, 598


Snowdrop Mantell was Poor Law doctor while in Lewes and would have known and tended to those who lived in the poor houses on Boulder Row.

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Lewes Fossil Festival write up

Around 150 children plus parents and other adults attended the all day event at the Linklater Pavilion on Sunday. Time was spent making paper Pterodactyls, painting model Ammonites, dino biscuit icing and following the Treasure Hunt around the Railway Land Nature Reserve.

We had fossils on display and people on hand to talk about them, and some people brought their own ones in to show. Cllr Graham Mayhew is pictured here with Laura McLennan from the University of Derby geology faculty who brought with her fossils to handle and to be on hand to talk to people. Laura was introduced to the festival by the Lewes STEMfest which encourages all things Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathemats aimed at children and families https://www.facebook.com/LewesSTEMFest/


Children’s author Nicky Dee held sway for two sessions of story telling and introducing her new book Bone Wars. Later on children also attended two sessions from story teller Jane Terry, who also provided the dino biscuits and icing activity, on The Trouble with Trilobites.

And the giant dinosaur skeleton hidden in his underground cave stole the show. Many thanks to Carinan, Katherine and co. for the model https://m.facebook.com/wonkypaleontologists/?locale2=en_GB


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Mantellisaurus atherfieldensis

It is now accepted that there were different types of Iguanodontids ie dinosaurs with teeth that look like those of the Iguana. This early plant eating creature whose remains had been found around the south of England was identified as Iguanodon and first publicised by Mantell in a letter to Davies Gilbert who read it to the Royal Society of London on 10 Feb 1825 entitled “Notice on the Iguanodon, a newly discovered fossil reptile from the sandstone of Tilgate Forest” This made Iguanodon the second land dinosaur to be named (after Megalosaurus).


It has been assumed that there were two species of Iguanodon – a larger form called Iguanodon bernissartensis, from remains found in a coal mine in Belgium, and a more graceful species called Iguanodon atherfieldensis, more common in southern England.  Although there may have been other sub species as they lived from the late Jurassic through to the late Cretaceous. This latter has now been renamed Mantellisaurus atherfieldensis after Mantell.

See here for the background story of the discovery of these dinosaurs http://www.dinosaurisle.com/iguanodon.aspx

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Lewes Fossil Festival programme

A5 backFossil Festival flyer

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August 3, 2017 · 5:07 pm

Georgian Dragon

This Harvey’s Brewery beer is a seasonal brew celebrating England’s Father of Palaeontology. In 1821, Lewes doctor and fossil collector Gideon Mantell’s understanding of fossilised Iguanodon teeth, discovered in a Sussex quarry, heralded the start of the classification of prehistoric reptiles. Ruby in colour with a fruity aroma and a sustained, lingering bitterness https://www.harveys.org.uk/beers/seasonal-ales/april-georgian-dragon/

Allergy Advice: Contains Barley
ABV: 4.7%
Tasting Note: Ruby Ale with Pioneer hops. A hint of fruitcake.

This beer comes out in time for St George’s Day on 23 April.


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A Petition against Slavery

From a recent Lewes History Group Newsletter Dec 2016

The 30 January 1826 Sussex Advertiser included a petition against various aspects of slavery in the British Colonies signed by 79 householders of the borough of Lewes. The signatories included the non-conformist ministers of Westgate Chapel (Thomas W. Horsfield) and Tabernacle (Evan Jones), the Unitarian gentleman William Boys, Baptist attorney John Webb Woolgar, banker Thomas Whitfeld, surgeon Gideon Mantell, ironmonger Nehemiah Wimble of The Friars, printers William Lee and John Baxter, butcher Benjamin Morris, auctioneer Plumer Verrall, bookseller R. W. Lower, draper William Crosskey and shepherd-schoolmaster John Dudeney. Many of the signatories were non-conformist Liberals but Anglican Conservatives were also represented.

Gideon’s father Thomas Mantell was a Methodist and had the first Methodist chapel built in Lewes in St Mary’s Lane next to the current Chapel Hill Antiques. He was close to the fellow members of the non-conformist community of Lewes listed above but died age 57 in 1807. He would no doubt have approved of Gideon’s presence amongst these signatories.

More on  Gideon’s parents can be found here

More information about non-conformism in Lewes in the early 1800s, the time of Thomas Mantell, can be found here http://home.btconnect.com/christchurchlewes/CC2015/files/Tabernacle_vol1.pdf

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