John Rodley was sworn in for a second term as Mayor of Winchelsea on Easter Monday 2019.  

This year’s ceremony was attended by 80 guests, including a Deputy Lord Lieutenant, the new High Sheriff, the Mayors of Hastings and Rye, the Chair and Leader of East Sussex County Council, the Chair and Ward Councillors of Icklesham Parish Council and the Seneschal of the Cinque Ports Confederation.

There are two purposes of this ceremony. The first is to maintain the tradition, stretching back over hundreds of years of appointing a Mayor. Although this is not a democratic office, in the sense that we used to know it, it does enable the Town to fulfil its statutory duty as an Ancient Town of the Cinque Ports, thus supporting charitable activities here and in the other thirteen towns of the Cinque Ports Confederation.

At the ceremony, John Rodley and David Page were duly sworn in as Mayor and Deputy. The Mayor is supported by the Corporation, which oversees the care of the Court Hall, the Gates and the Museum and the following Freemen were sworn in as Jurats. They will form the executive board of the Corporation, discharging these tasks in for the year ahead:
Tony Moore
Donald Cameron-Clarke
Mike Melvin
Steve Turner
John Spencer
Cynthia Feast
Robert Holland
David Merrifield
Carol Scoines
Bernie Scott

Additionally, Neil Clephane-Cameron was sworn in as Chamberlain and Eric Streeton as Sergeant-at-Mace, while Lorna Challand swore herself in as Town Clerk. It was duly noted that Neil was commencing his 25th year working with the Corporation, first as Sergeant-at-Mace and latterly as Chamberlain and good wishes were passed to him for his silver jubilee year.

It was also very pleasing to welcome Peter Cosstick as a Freeman, he having made such a contribution to the Town in recent years, including his work with the Guy Fawkes Society.

The second purpose of the meeting is to enable the past Mayor to present his annual report covering his year in office and, within it, to recognise much of what has gone on in Winchelsea over the last year and to which so many residents have contributed.

In summary, this report confirmed that the Court Hall had been used for 244 events over the year. This number does not include meetings of the Corporation, but does include the Post Office and Icklesham Parish Council meetings, as well as a wide variety of other local functions. It recorded that the Town had been represented by the Mayor or Deputy at 59 events during the year.

It also reported that the Museum continued to flourish, with a little over 7,700 people visiting and, although numbers were slightly down in 2018, revenue did not suffer.

Financially, it was reported that, in addition to its expenditure on normal running costs and statutory inspections, the major projects undertaken this year on Corporation property were:
• The redecoration of the Lower Court Hall.
• Fitting of new and more efficient heaters throughout the Court Hall.
• The preparation and fitting of information plaques to the Court Hall, New and Pipewell Gates.
• A professional loading survey of the first floor of the Court Hall.

With this work undertaken, a small surplus of a little over £680 (subject to audit) had been delivered over the year and the Corporation is grateful for the support of the Friends of the Ancient Monuments and Museums and for all those members of the community who have donated throughout the year.

Finally, thanks were also expressed to all those who have given so much time to help the Corporation and the Town over the year. This very much includes the Museum volunteers – the new Museum season starts this month, – those who look after the cleaning of the Court Hall and those who maintain the gardens, as well as the many clubs and societies in the Town, for their enormous contribution to all that is good in Winchelsea. These thanks were also extended to the local authorities, namely East Sussex County Council, Rother District Council and, particularly, Icklesham Parish Council and our local Ward Councillors, for their help and support.

It is confirmed that the Standing Joint Committee the Cinque Ports Confederation will meet in Winchelsea on 21st May, attended by the Mayors of the Confederation Towns, their Deputies and Town Clerks. It will be chaired by the Speaker of the Cinque Ports, the Mayor of Hastings and it will also be attended by the Seneschal, the Joint Solicitor and the Judge Surrogate. At the meeting, among other matters, it is anticipated that the Speakership will be transferred to Winchelsea. Attendees will gather in the Church for light refreshment before the meeting and will then move to the New Hall for lunch.

A little later, on 1st June, the Cinque Port Mayors’ Association will hold its Annual General Meeting in the Court Hall and this will be followed by lunch at the Lodge at Winchelsea. It is expected that some 80 people will come to the Town and it is hoped that those visitors, who do not attend the AGM, will be able to take advantage of Church Market and the Museum on the day.

John Rodley, Mayor of Winchelsea