In August Malcolm and Bridget Pratt held a tea party in the New Inn to celebrate their 60-year association with the Town of Winchelsea and, of course, Malcolm spent 25 of those years as Town Clerk. It was a most generous and happy event, attended by many friends, the only instruction being not to bring presents. Naturally, therefore, the Corporation did present them with a certificate, designed and produced by Melvyn Pett, as a record of that anniversary and hoping that their links with the Town would continue for many years to come.

It was great fun to see such a broad spectrum of events laid on by the School to mark the end of term. These included a parade around the Town, a remarkable opera written by the pupils and performed in the New Hall, a fete with an amazing variety of things going on and a vibrant leavers’ service. It was all a great way to bring School and Town even closer together and we are going to see how we can further develop that relationship in the future.

In a similar vein, of course, the Town Fete run by the New Hall Committee was a huge success. A great contribution was made by so many people in the Town to support this initiative and the variety of stalls, games and other entertainment was impressive. Someone also got the weather right, the tea and cake was much enjoyed and it was good to see the Hooe Band again. From the mayoral perspective, selecting the ‘Best of Show’ at the Dog Show was the greatest challenge faced to date and the expert advice was much appreciated.

In terms of the representational role, the lazy, hazy days of summer have featured three themes, namely sport, wining and dining and remembrance. A delightful day was spent at Sandwich for the Cinque Port Mayor’s Association Annual Bowls match, although the presence of the Mayor and Deputy on day two was clearly something of a distraction for the Winchelsea team, who did not quite reach the heights of day one, but still finished creditably in mid-table. Mike and Jo Melvin’s organisation of this major event was much to be admired.

On a lesser scale, and earlier, a visit to Ramsgate for the Mayor’s Charity Croquet Tournament resulted in victory for the combined WinchelRam team on a hot day and in the face of some pretty warm competition.

With the important exception of the Cinque Port Speaker’s Day in Hastings later this month, the civic events across the Confederation have largely been completed. The Mayor and Deputy have managed to attend an event in all the Cinque Port Towns, except Deal, Dover and Margate, but they are in our sights, particularly as we will now be supporting various Mayors in their charity fundraising events. This is where the gourmet bit comes in and a sublime trip on the Tenterden Ale Train is an example, with the Faversham Food Festival in the offing. We plan to do something here in Winchelsea in October to raise funds for Court Hall works.

In terms of Remembrance, the Mayor attended a service of rededication of the Shepway Cross at Lympne last month. The cross was originally dedicated on 4th August 1923, by the then Lord Warden on the ninth anniversary of the commencement of hostilities and has recently been renovated. It also believed to mark the spot where, for centuries, the Lord Warden held his Court for Shepway.

On 2nd September at Alexandra Park in Hastings, the Mayor will attend the unveiling of a memorial stone by the Lord Lieutenant to Private. This is the centenary of the award of that medal to a really interesting man. He was born in Hastings, orphaned in London, sent to Canada, joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force and arrived on the Western Front in 1916. Promoted to sergeant and winning a Military Medal and a Distinguished Conduct Medal in pretty short order, he was reduced to private in 1918 for striking an officer and was actually on his way to military detention, where he might have safely spent the rest of the war, when he led the rescue attempt of a crashed German aircrew, being badly burned in the process. For his selfless conduct, his sentence of imprisonment was suspended and he returned to the trenches, winning a VC for leadership and example at the Battle of Amiens, where he died of wounds received.

The visit by the Assistant Inspector of Ancient Monuments for the Heritage England South East Area provided a helpful opportunity to explain the particular challenges faced by the Corporation in terms of maintaining the wide range of properties in its charge. She was also able to meet people most closely engaged in this business and we were able to gain something from her perspective. It was encouraging to hear that she considered our approach to looking after our properties was spot on.

Unsurprisingly, money always depends upon the strength of the case being made, but it is very much hoped that future dialogue will be welcomed as a result of this visit. Against this background, the Fabric Committee of the Corporation is close to agreeing its priorities for work on the Court Hall, falling out of the Quinquennial Review. This will represent a containable and relevant package that can be taken forward in stages over the next 5 years and provide a focus for fundraising by both the Corporation and the Friends of the Ancient Monuments. Rother has also approved the sign for the Court Hall, so that and those for the Pipewell and New Gates can now be fixed. The state of the Town sign is also being surveyed from the point of view of appearance and stability and the fixing of appropriate plaques.

As previously announced, Angela Hill will pass on the mantle of Town Clerk to Lorna Challand later this year and the date of Saturday 3rd November, in the afternoon has now been chosen. It will be done within an Assembly and Hundred and will be a public meeting, with all Freemen duly invited. More details will be available in the next edition of this magazine.

Finally, and with thanks to David Page and Felix Lozano, the Corporation’s entry on the Town Website www.winchelsea.com/corporation has been reviewed from top to bottom and rationalised with some parts being rewritten or removed. This is an exercise that needs to be done from time to time for the sake of both currency and accuracy. The website is our shop window for the Town and beyond and the Corporation’s Media Committee seeks to maximise use of this method, complemented by articles in this magazine, as the principal avenue for outward facing communications.

John Rodley, Mayor