HM Prison Lewes is a local men's prison, located in Lewes in East Sussex, England. The term 'local' means that the prison holds people on remand to the local courts, as well as sentenced prisoners. The prison is operated by Her Majesty's Prison Service.


Lewes is a Victorian prison, built in 1853. One of its first uses was to hold three hundred Finnish grenadiers as part of the Crimean War. The guards had been captured defending Bomarsund Fortress on the Åland Islands in the Baltic Sea. The grenadiers were later released and repatriated to Finland.

Another early prisoner at Lewes was George Witton, a Lieutenant in the Bushveldt Carbineers in the Boer War in South Africa. He was imprisoned for murder after the shooting of Boer prisoners.

During the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland, several prominent figures involved in it were held at Lewes Prison, including Éamon de Valera (1882–1975); Thomas Ashe (1885–1917); Frank Lawless (1871–1922); and Harry Boland (1887–1922).

In October 2003, after 25 to 30 prisoners were involved in a riot just before nightly lock-up that led to property damage and the injury of an officer, officials launched an inquiry.

A £1 million healthcare suite opened in the prison in June 2004, with facilities to treat physically ill prisoners and a 19-bed unit for assessing mental health.

In February 2008, an inspection report from Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons stated that one wing in Lewes Prison needed to be refurbished urgently after inspectors found that inmates had to to eat their meals on toilets. The report also stated that anti-bullying and suicide prevention procedures at the prison were weak. However, inspectors found that vulnerable prisoners felt safe, and that the prison was decent overall. Two months later a new accommodation block for 174 inmates was opened at the prison, with a commitment from prison management to refurbish older wings at Lewes within the following 12 months.

The prison today

Lewes is a local prison, holding convicted and remand adult males mainly from East Sussex and West Sussex courts. Accommodation at the prison consists mainly of shared cells, with some single accommodation. A new house block was opened at the prison in April 2008.

The prison also has a First Night Centre for newly-imprisoned inmates, and a Listener Scheme for those at risk of suicide and self harm. The prison offers a range of full and part time education including information technology, literacy, numeracy and life/social skills. Additional employment is offered in the prison workshops.