Winchelsea Corporation Seal

Here is the regular update on the 5th October Speaker’s Day. Planning is well advanced, although final details cannot be completed until all the responses to invitations have been received. It can now be confirmed that the Museum will be closed on that day, as it and the Lower Court Hall will be used as a reception and robing area for visiting Mayors and Confederation officers.

The parade route has been agreed, starting in the High Street outside the Court Hall and then making its way around the Churchyard via, German Street, Back Lane, St Thomas’ Street and back up the High Streets. The parade will be led by Sussex Brass, order being kept by the Guy Fawkes Society and it is also hoped that a static Sea Cadet contingent will be available for inspection by the Lord Warden.

The Church Service, which follows the parade, is a public service, starting at 11am at which everyone is welcome. Being seated early is recommended, as many of the pew seats will be allocated to our visitors. The lunches at the New Hall and the New Inn have to be by invitation events, due to numbers and cost. All Jurats will be invited to attend at the New Hall as hosts, along with past Winchelsea Speakers, acting in a similar capacity. We have to cap the lunch numbers at 80 and we are at that number. If invitees do drop out, we will we will try and make the numbers up by extending invitations to others and apologies are offered if this looks a bit messy.

It is also timely to thank everyone involved for their flexibility in allowing there to be two Church Markets in September. These are important sources of revenue for the Church and allowing the one originally planned for Speaker’s Day to be moved forward to the last Saturday in September is much appreciated.

Sadly, the Post Office was closed for much of August, due to Anthea damaging her ankle in an accident. A lot of time went into trying to find a replacement, but regrettably this was not successful. However, the local Post Office managers were approached and, at the time of going to press, they were working on some form of reduced cover to achieve opening on one day per week. People will have found this inconvenient, but hopefully a normal service will soon be resumed and, in the meantime, our best wishes go to Anthea for a swift and complete recovery.

A considerable amount of minor work has been undertaken in the Court Hall over the last month, including plumbing and carpentry repairs. The Legge portraits, for long a feature of the Museum should soon be hung in the Lower Court Hall. Further renovation and repair works await the visit of the Conservation Officer. It is pleasing to report that the final plaque has gone up on the New Gate, thus bringing a very long running project to a close. The positioning of the plaque was adjusted on the basis of a suggestion received and looks very well. East Sussex Highways also pruned back the trees around the Gate in liaison with the National Trust and at no cost.

On the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing, Winchelsea completed the first orbit of the New Gate by drone, with Phil Mack as Command Module Pilot. As the craft emerged from the dark side, behind the trees and beamed back its first pictures, Ian Rowlands at Flight Control in Boundary House identified what looked like asphalt on the top surface. This leads to two possible and possibly contradictory conclusions. Either, that medieval builders had access to asphalt technology, previously thought to have emanated from 19th century road builders, or some form of human life has been up there before us. No doubt more will be learned from the first landing mission, planned for the week of 21st September, when extra vehicular activity will be conducted to remove vegetation growth.

The lazy, hazy days of summer featured events of considerable variety. The Fete was a remarkable event given the challenges imposed by the weather, but it really was as much fun as ever and huge thanks go to the organisers. It is also worth recording the magnificent Tom Harris concert held in the Church, which featured a number of very highly talented performers, followed by a delicious supper provided by Rye Deli.

Further afield, the Mayoral Charity Croquet Tournament at Ramsgate was again held on a very hot day and, unfortunately, Winchelsea’s performance came nowhere near last year’s victory. This may have had something to do with the fact that the umpires had tightened the rules and roqueting, the most tactical part of the game, had been banned. In fact, Winchelsea came in joint last. The Cinque Port Mayors’ association Bowls Tournament at New Romney was much more successful, probably as the actual bowling was left to those who knew what they were doing. The important thing was that it was an organisational masterpiece and huge credit goes to Mike and Jo Melvin, who ran the whole thing.

For the first time in a number of years, it has been decided to hold a mid-year meeting on the Cinque Ports’ Confederation Standing Joint Committee and this is planned to take place in Winchelsea on the afternoon of 20th November. The reason for this extra meeting is that a number of good ideas tend to come up in AOB at the May meeting. These are not fully discussed, because no preparation for full discussion has been possible and the focus, in any case, is on changing the Speakership and doing AGM type things. This was certainly very much the case last May and this additional meeting will therefore provide the opportunity to discuss issues that were then raised and these were appointments to the post of Joint Solicitor, storage and location of Confederation Archives, membership of the Confederation and the Confederation’s response to climate change and reducing its carbon footprint. So, it should be a very interesting and worthwhile gathering.

Winchelsea New Gate