St. Giles was one of the original churches of the town, though not as large as St. Thomas’.
There are now no visible remains. It seems probable that the church became derelict soon after 1500. The parish of St. Giles was joined to that of St. Thomas in 1543. The ruins of the church remained standing until 1777 when the Rector had them removed and sold to help build Rye New Harbour.
Close beside it, a narrow lane runs down hill and on maps is shown as Hogtrough Lane. In Winchelsea it has always been known as Dead Man’s Lane. In 1359 up to 3.000 French forced their way into the town and, finding many of the people had taken refuge in the church, butchered them there. They stayed in the town for a day and a night, burning and looting before they were driven off. The slaughtered townsfolk were buried in St Giles’ churchyard which had to be enlarged for the purpose and the lane thus received its name.
As you walk around the town you will notice the names of some of the houses which end in the word “Plat” or “Platt”. This is a name much used in this part of Sussex. For example ‘Petronilla’s Plat’ in the High Street belonged to Petronilla Clobbers who must have owned it in her own right, according to the rent roll of 1292. ‘Three Kings’ in Mill Road is built on the site of an old inn. It is not certain whether the name refers to the Three Kings of the Epiphany or Three Kings of England Edward I, Edward II and Edward III.
‘Chapel Plat’, Hiham Green, is built on the site of a Wesleyan Chapel built around 1880, when the original chapel was too small for the congregation. The chapel was demolished in 1968. ‘Periteau House’, High Street and ‘Mariteau House’, German Street, are reminders of the Huguenots who fled from France and lived here in the 18th and 19th centuries. The houses called ‘Moneysellers’ in North Street are reminders that foreign money could be changed here. In 1333 Winchelsea was one of only twenty towns in the country where this was allowed.
Charles Stephens’ map of the town dated 1763 shows some fascinating names, for example: ‘Ballad Singers Plat’, ‘Brewers Marsh’, ‘Tinkers Garden’, ‘Truncheons’, ‘Great Gallows Hill’, ‘Paradise’, ‘Crooked Acre’, ‘Roundel Piece’.