On my way to Rye last Friday the bus I was riding passed through a beautiful old village and passed by this ancient church. I had to return to it today. The town is called Winchelsea. Today I returned to take pictures and investigate this small but historic place.
I learned that this is the second Winchelsea, the first having been wiped out in by a storm in 1288. That first town had been an important and prosperous port. You can read much about its history here. It was decided to move the town inland and onto higher ground. That is the village I visited today. Here are some photographs of what I found in this very old, very beautiful village.
And a final shot of the church.
No one seems to know a date for the construction of this church or who caused it to be built. It is thought that it was much bigger originally and that what exists today is only the “chancel” (the choir behind the central altar) and remnants of the transepts. The missing parts were dismantled centuries ago to build the harbor at Rye and for other purposes. That was often done in England, particularly after the dissolution of the monasteries. It is thought that this church was never a monastery, but was always a parish church for what was once a very rich and much bigger town. Please read a detailed history of the church here for much more information.
Yesterday I took a long walk to the western end of the Hastings beach. The weather was fine and there were many people out enjoying the first warm weekend of the season. The avenue that runs along the beach is lined on the other side with old hotels, one or two casinos, numerous restaurants. There’s a shopping mall and a large and beautiful old church in the center, just off this main street. But mostly it was the beach that caught my interest. The sun was low enough to turn the sea silver on both sides of the long pier.
(Note added April 29, 2016: Yesterday’s Guardian newspaper had an informative article about the rebuilding of this pier following a fire and its reopening. You can read it here.)
There is sand on this beach when the tide is out!
If you look under the teardrop lamp you’ll see, as I did for the first time yesterday, high on the hill above the town the remains of the castle that William the Conqueror ordered built almost immediately after winning the battle against the English.
Tomorrow I’m off to Cambridge.