Our Heritage

Our Heritage - 1819


The Beginning...

W. E. Clark & Son Ltd has its roots firmly established in Lewes.

In 1819 Mr Harris founded Harris Jewellers at 1 Cliffe High Street, Lewes. He was later joined by Mr Kenwood and Harris and Kenward, Jewellers and Silversmiths, was formed.

The photograph shows 1 Cliffe High Street circa 1830.

By 1913 Harris and Kenwood boasted ‘The largest and most up-to-date stock of watches, jewellery and silver plate in the neighbourhood.’ And offered postal purchases -  ‘Reliable Lever Watch in Nickel Case, short wind, stem set, good timekeeper. Every watch warranted. Sent securely by register post on receipt of 5/9.’

In 1919 a new chapter began…

Our Heritage - 1919


Wilfred Ernest Clark – First Generation Jeweller

Wilfred Ernest Clark moved from London to Lewes. In 1919 he purchased Harris & Kenwood Jewellers located at 1 Cliffe High Street. He settled in the historic town marrying Jean, a beautiful millinery model and they had one son, John (Jack).

Wilfred put his name to the business and W. E. Clark was established.

He ran the company for nineteen years and was latterly joined by his son, Jack, on his return from active service in the second world war; thus establishing W. E. Clark & Son.

The photograph shows Wilfred Ernest (right) playing bowls at Lewes Bowling Club.

Our Heritage - 1947


John (Jack) Clark – The Second Generation

Jack Clark worked alongside his father Wilfred Ernest for a short time before fully taking over and running the business in 1947.

Jack Clark met his future wife Bruna whilst she acted as his translator during his service in Pesaro, Italy during WWII. They both returned to England and settled in Lewes where they had one child John Clark. Bruna became a very well-known and respected figure teaching Latin and Italian at Southover School in Lewes.

Our Heritage - 1971


John Clark – The Third Generation

John Clark trained at George Farrer’s Jewellers in Tunbridge Wells and the Jewellers and Silversmiths in Guildford. He took on the responsibility of running W E Clark & Son in 1971, at the age of 21.

He married Madeleine in 1974 and they had three children, Simon, Caroline and David.

Our Heritage - 1979


The Acquisition of Today’s Lewes Showroom

John Clark oversaw the expansion of W. E. Clark & Son. In 1979 he purchased the premises at 224 High Street whilst retaining 1 Cliffe Street. Clark’s now had a presence on both the East and West bank of the River Ouse, either side of the historic Cliffe Bridge.

Our Heritage - 2000


The Great Flood sees the Arrival of the Fourth Generation

On 12 October 2000 Lewes experienced its worst flood in 200 years. The Great Flood wreaked havoc as several feet of water swept through both of Clark’s premises causing serious damage in its wake. The devastation is clearly shown in the picture of our 224 High Street showroom.

David Clark returned to join his father in the family business the day following the flood.

A challenging time but with every cloud there is a silver lining…

Our Heritage - 2001


The Third and Fourth Generation Seize the Opportunity

The flood proved a low point bringing the business to its knees; however true to the Clark spirit it became the impetus for something new! Encouraged by David, John took the bold decision to reposition Clark’s in the market place and together they worked to regenerate the company.

The destruction provided the opportunity to enhance the premises by redesigning, repairing and refitting them. New brands were acquired, advertising was created and events were organised. 'The Clark Experience ' was born.

The business thrived and W. E. Clark & Son was established as the county jeweller of Sussex.


Our Heritage - 2005


Eastbourne’s Oldest Jewellers Joins the Family

In 2005 we acquired our second showroom, formerly Charlwood's Jewellers, Eastbourne's oldest jeweller founded in 1883. Here we have established our prestigious watch repair and restoration service carried out by our Master Watchmaker.

Our Heritage - 2012


Splendid Refurbishment of Lewes and Eastbourne Showrooms

It was decided that 224 High Street should be redeveloped and extended to become Lewes’ sole representation of W. E. Clark & Son and that Eastbourne should be refurbished.

The Lewes showroom now boasts increased floor space spread over two floors; whilst both showrooms incorporate separate customer seating areas which provide a comfortable place to enjoy our unhurried service.

We further enhanced ‘The Clark Experience’ by introducing hospitality in the form of a wide range of teas, coffees, soft drinks, Champagne and Prosecco.