Dates: 24-27th June 2024

Venue: Westgate Chapel, Lewes.

Address: 92a High Street, Lewes, East Sussex BN7 IXH


Accessibility: Wheelchair access

Conference: from 4pm on Monday 24th June

Organisers: Gaby Weiner and David Hamilton ( /


The 2024 Martineau Society Conference will take place in the historic town of Lewes, East Sussex, UK, 24-27 June 2024. The conference venue is Westgate Chapel in the centre of town. 
    Lewes has historically been a non-conformist town and indeed, one of the regicides who signed the death penalty of King Charles 1st, lived on Lewes High Street! Well-known people in and around Lewes include Tom Paine who worshipped at Westgate Chapel before going to America, the author Virginia Woolf and members of the Bloomsbury Group who lived in and around Lewes, John Evelyn, (1620–1706), writer, gardener and diarist, and Noel Streatfeild (1895–1986), children’s author.
    The nearest airport is Gatwick which is an hour away from Lewes by direct train. Lewes also has good connections by train to London, the South Coast, and to the rest of the UK. Hotel accommodation is limited so we encourage conference participants to make hotel and bed and breakfast reservations sooner rather than later. There is a Premier Inn a few minutes’ walk both from the station and Westgate Chapel, the nearby Dorset Pub has accommodation, and there are numerous bed and breakfast possibilities locally. Brighton, the nearest large town, has many hotels and guest houses and is 20 minutes away from Lewes by train and 30 minutes by bus (or car). 

Introductory talk by Debby Matthews: Early Lewes non-conformity and the role of the Westgate Chapel (Monday 24th June, 18.15-19.15), will introduce the topic of non-conformity as it manifested itself in the Lewes of the late 18th/ early 19thcentury, with particular reference to the Westgate Chapel where the conference is taking place. Debby will draw in elements of Harriet Martineau’s interests such as religion, education and social and political reform. Debby will attempt to explore any links to slavery or the slave trade that may have existed in Lewes at that time, something which Harriet Martineau described as the “worst deadly sin”.

Guided Walk (Tuesday 25th June, 14.00), led by Debby, will visit some of the sites mentioned in the introductory talk and provide delegates with a chance to view Lewes’s long and interesting history on the ground.

(Biographical details: Debby Matthews has lived and worked in and around Lewes since the late 1970s. She studied History at Sussex University in the School of Cultural Community Studies. Part of her studies focussed on local Sussex history. During her course she carried out a piece of work looking at the implication of the very real fear of invasion around Lewes by the French during the Napoleonic Wars. She followed this with a post graduate librarianship qualification and achieved an MA in 1984 from University College London. A career in library and information work, cumulated in a final job in the tourist information centre providing maps, information and guidance to the many visitors to Lewes. She retired at the end of January 2024. Debby is involved in a range of local initiatives and has developed some expertise in delivering talks and guided walks on Lewes’s history. She is an enthusiastic promotor of her adopted town and is happy to share this with locals and visitors alike).

The Conference Programme can be downloaded from here.  Please note that this might change due to, for instance, travel problems.

Conference fee

£150 per person for whole conference  (includes refreshments, lunches, 2 evening meals, and trails)

£25 for day attendance (includes refreshments, lunch, and trail)

£5 for attendance at single session

Delegates will need to find their own accommodation – details can be found on the Lewes Town website:

Please complete this Registration Form (click here to download) and send it to arrive by 30th April 2024 by email to Dr Sharon Connor (  or by post to 13 Lancaster Road, Formby, Merseyside L37 6AS. Please include any dietary requirements or allergies.


The Martineau Society sponsors students to attend the annual meeting.

Bursaries are usually £250.  If you wish to claim a bursary, please check you fit the following criteria.

The applicant should

– be a research student

– present a paper on their research at the conference

– be a member of the Society (annual student membership will be waived for one year should you present a paper to the Conference).

– arrange for a letter/email of support to be sent, from a supervisor or departmental administrator if unavailable, indicating reasons for his/her support for the applicant’s attendance at the conference.

Additional Financial Help

Help with conference expenses is also available in exceptional circumstances to current

Martineau Society members who wish to give a paper or presentation. Please send an explanatory letter/email.


by post to 27 East Street, Lewes, East Sussex BN7 2LJ UK

or by email to:


If you have any further queries, please contact conference organisers Gaby Weiner or David Hamilton ( /