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The settlement has a history as a bridging point and as a market town, and today as a communications hub and tourist-orientated town.
The town was the site of the Battle of Lewes in 1264.
The Conservatives won control of the District Council in 2011, and strengthened this position in 2015.
They also won back the parliamentary seat in the 2015 election with Maria Caulfield defeating the incumbent Liberal Democrat of 18 years, Norman Baker by 1,083 votes.
In organisational terms, Lewes became one of the non-county boroughs within the then Sussex, East county under the Local Government Act 1933.
In 1974, Lewes District Council was formed on 1 April 1974 by the Local Government Act 1972, and was a merger of the former borough of Lewes along with Newhaven and Seaford urban districts and Chailey Rural District.
For many years, Lewes was dominated by the Conservatives, both at local and national levels.
In 1991, however, the Liberal Democrats won the District Council for the first time, and the constituency returned a Liberal Democrat MP for the first time in 1997.
(Professor David Carpenter gave a lecture about the Battle of Lewes at Lewes Town Hall in the summer of 2010; it can be heard at the following website.The town became a port with docks along the Ouse River.