xxvi TOM PAINE 247
The priory's possessions were granted to Cromwell by Henry VIII, who, tradition asserts (somewhat directly in the face of historical evidence), murdered one of his wives on a winding stair in the building, and may therefore have been glad to see its demolition. Which wife it was, is not stated, but when Cromwell went the way of all this king's favourites, the property was transferred to Ann of Cleves, who is supposed to have lived in the most picturesque of the old houses on the right hand side of Southover's street as you leave Lewes for the Ouse valley.
Southover church, in itself a beautiful structure of the grave red type, with a square ivied tower and the most delicate vane in Sussex, is rendered the more interesting by the possession of the leaden caskets of William de Warenne and Gundrada and the superb tomb removed from Isfield church and very ingeniously restored. These relics repose in a charming little chapel built in their honour.
A notable man who had association with Lewes was Tom Paine, author of The Rights of Man. He settled there as an exciseman in 1768, married Elizabeth Ollive of the same town at St. Michael's Church in 1771, and succeeded to her father's business as a tobacconist and grocer. Paine was more successful as a debater than a business man. As a member of the White Hart evening club he was more often than any other the winner of the Headstrong Book—an old Greek Homer despatched the next morning to the most obstinate haranguer of the preceding night. It was at Lewes that Tom Paine's thoughts were first turned to the question of government. He used thus to tell the story. One evening after playing bowls, all the party retired to drink punch; when, in the conversation that ensued, Mr. Verril (it should be Verrall) u observed, alluding to the wars of Frederick, that the King of Prussia was the best fellow in the world for a king, he had so much of the devil in him. This, striking me with great force, occasioned the reflection, that if it were necessary for a king