David Hopkins separates Cinque Ports myth from reality



The Winchelsea open gardens season got off to a flying start on 14th April.

The sun finally shone and at long last it seemed okay to risk an afternoon out. Five hundred visitors turned up to see the six gardens that opened for the National Garden Scheme and almost £3,000 was raised for the NGS beneficiaries – mostly cancer nursing charities. Garden owners bemoaned the fact that several favourite plants were still refusing to show because of the spring chill but in fact there was plenty to admire. People were even seen eating ice cream, surely a first for 2018.

Teas this year were laid on by the Friends of the Conquest Hospital as part of their fundraising efforts for the MRI Scanner Appeal and £800 was raised for this good cause as well. Friends of the Ancient Monuments laid on a tour of the town’s famous medieval cellars in the morning and there was plenty to explore over and above the gardens themselves.

St Michael’s Hospice come to town on 1st May and the big NGS opening of the year will be on Saturday 16th June when eleven gardens will be on show. There will be cellar tours then as well, as there are on several weekends through the season. If you haven’t been on one yet, check out the dates at Money raised from the tours helps fund the maintenance of the town’s medieval gates and Court Hall. Click here to book a Cellar Tour



The Winchelsea Singers’ Spring Concert starts with highlights from ‘Elijah’ by Mendelssohn. The second half will be a variety of favourite choruses from operas by Verdi, Mozart and Donizetti. The singers will also be joined by the much-loved soloists Grace Constable, Garry Marriott and Michael White. There will be a bar available. For further information please call Charlotte Beecroft on 01797 223159

Saturday 21st April at St Thomas’ Church, Winchelsea
at 7pm

Entrance by programme at the door – £12





The season starts this month when six Winchelsea Gardens open for the National Garden Scheme. The event takes place on Saturday 14th April 2018 and the gardens will be open from 1pm to 5.30pm. The money raised goes, as always, to the nursing charities that the NGS supports. This Spring, teas in the New Hall will be provided by the Friends of the Conquest Hospital and the money they raise will go to the hospital’s scanner appeal. Six gardens will be open: King’s Leap, Rye View, The Well House, Cleveland House, Cleveland Place and Periteau House.

On Tuesday 1st May, several of these gardens and some others will open for St Michael’s Hospice.

The main NGS opening of the summer comes on Saturday and Sunday 16th and 17th June.

Country Living are promising us an article in their June edition.

It was a record year for East Sussex NGS with over £160,000 raised from garden openings around the county in 2017.


Winchelsea Guy Fawkes Society, are delighted to announce the return of local folk band ‘The Sea Road Scratch Band’

They will be playing again at the New Inn, on Saturday evening, 7th April between 6.30 and 8.30 pm.
This is a free social event, and all are welcome.

Hope to see you there.


Talks are free to Society members and non-members are welcome at an admission charge of £5. Ample roadside parking is available within the town. Talks are generally timed to finish at 4pm but extra time for discussion has been allowed in respect of those to be held on 24th March and 3rd June.

Sunday 11th March 2.30pm St. Thomas Church, Winchelsea.
Kathleen Tyson, MA Medieval History (Merit), JD, FRSA
‘Sea Armies and Conquests of Britain; Bronze Age to 1066’
In researching the politics behind the Norman landing of 1066 Kathleen has delved back in to the Dark Ages and beyond and found evidence of successive and cohesive waves of invasion, exploitation and settlement in Britain by seaborne armies co-operating via pragmatic treaties and having common origins in eastern Europe.

Saturday 24th March 2.30pm New Hall, Winchelsea.
Round Table Talk by WAS member Terry Betson
‘Changes in the Brede valley through Medieval and Tudor times’
The river Brede and its valley dominated Winchelsea through medieval times. Terry has acquired much knowledge of the Brede from his longtime interest in the area and will share this in what is hoped will be a lively debate. Time is allowed for discussion and audience participation over tea/coffee/biscuits.

Sunday 8th April 2.30pm New Hall, Winchelsea.
Nathalie Cohen, BA MA FSA, National Trust Archaeologist London and South-east
Much of the archaeology in and around Winchelsea comes under the auspices of the National Trust and it is essential that local archaeological societies have an understanding of how they can best function within the Trust’s parameters. It is anticipated that Nathalie will expand on this theme and give an overview of the Town’s archaeological potential.

Saturday 21st April 2.30pm New Hall, Winchelsea.
Dr. Thomas Dhoop, Visiting Fellow in Archaeology, University of Southampton
‘Shaped by Ships and Storms: A Maritime Archaeology of Medieval Winchelsea’
Dr. Dhoop is a coastal scientist interested in interactions between humans and the sea. In this presentation he will approach New Winchelsea from the perspective of the sea and show that the aspects of seafaring and storminess are vital for understanding how the town was structured and how life was lived in its medieval heyday.

Saturday 12th May 2.30pm St. Thomas Church, Winchelsea.
Stephen Gray MSc Dip Arch APMP IHBC RIAS RIBA
‘Regional and Periodic Styles of Timber Framed Houses’
Historic buildings consultant, Stephen Gray, will illustrate the regional and periodic variations of such buildings and discuss how those variations can help in identifying different phases of alteration and extension in the same house.

Sunday 3rd June 2.30pm St. Thomas Church, Winchelsea.
Francis Harper, WAS member and professional geologist will discuss
‘Dating Techniques Applicable to Archaeology’
Knowing the date of human remains and artifacts, or the environment in which they occur, is key to understanding the past. Many dating techniques have been developed over the last hundred years or so and many more will be developed in the future as new ideas and measurement techniques become refined. This talk will provide an overview of many of these approaches, commenting on their applicability and limitations.



Ruth Eichenseher cello, and Luis Castillo Briceño piano, will be playing pieces by Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms and Dvořák at the next Winchelsea Arts Concert on Saturday 24th March 2018 at 7.30pm at St Thomas’ Church.

Ruth has been learning the cello since the age of seven. At the age of twelve she performed the Elgar Cello Concerto and the Rococo Variations by Tchaikovsky as a soloist in Prague and Budapest, Roccastrada, Boston and Michigan. She is currently studying with Prof. Orfeo Mandozzi at the Zurich University of Arts. Her accompanist, Luis, is also currently studying music in Zurich. He has won several competitions and attended many master classes with renowned pianists, as well as performing in a large number of high profile venues, including the Weill Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall, New York. Ruth is the winner of the Winchelsea Arts prize in the New Stars International Music Competition. Winchelsea Arts is delighted to be supporting this exciting competition for young musicians in its inaugural year.

Tickets are available at Winchelsea Farm Kitchen – £14 (£7 for children) – and online here