Tuesday, 14 June 2011


The village of Winchelsea, or town as claimed by some, was a prosperous port during the Middle Ages, in fact it was one of the Cinque Ports, but the town was moved inland on the orders of Edward I in 1281, although it retained its Cinque Port credentials. The port waned in importance partly due to becoming silted up and partly due to the ravages of the Hundred Years War when it suffered repeated attacks by the Spanish and French. Several remnants of Winchelsea’s medieval past remain, including three of the original gateways and the choir and side chapels of the original Church of St Thomas the Martyr, which suffered badly at the hands of the French but has since been rebuilt. One of the gates features in a painting by William Holman Hunt called “The City Gate, Winchelsea”, one of a series of paintings he did while visiting the area. Another painting called “The Blind Girl” by J. E. Millais depicts the ivy-clad church.

If you want to discover more about the role of Winchelsea in the Confederation of Cinque Ports as well as the history of the town, you can do so in the Winchelsea Court Hall Museum. Beachgoers will find a beach of shingle with low-tide sand which is popular with caravanners and campers. Between Winchelsea and Rye is Camber Castle, one of a defensive chain built by Henry VIII in the 1530s as a response to the threat from those pesky French.

Map of the area.

File:Winchelsea, Grey Friars ruins.jpg
Grey Friars ruins. Photo by Michael Coppins, via Wikimedia Commons

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