The Sussex Coast - online book

A Literary & Historical travel guide to the Sussex Coast

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WINCHELSEA                          363
chancel retains some original features, but has been lengthened during the Early English period. Plain windows in the heavily buttressed nave and tower belong to the same period as the panelled and nail-studded south door with a wooden lock, which is dated 1542.
East of Fairlight on a similar but smaller ridge stands Pett, overlooking the levels; the church is modern and featureless ; even the font, dated 1753, is exiled to the yard, on whose grass is a curious old double coffin slab, the bases and shafts remain­ing, the crosses broken off.
When the prosperity of the Cinque Ports was at its highest the people of Pett looked over the south-western corner of a sort of shallow inland sea separated from the Channel by banks of shingle and stretching long fjords up the valleys of Brede, Tillingham, and Rother; it also extended into Kent and bordered Romney Marsh. Two islands rose from the waters, both of them quite near the land; on the smaller one was Rye, like Tyre, standing out of the sea; on the larger, slightly resembling South America in shape, was the petty port of Iham, but when Winchelsea fell into the waves it was chosen as the best spot on which it should be rebuilt. To-day the scene is vastly changed; the islands are still there, but they look over marshy flats drained by water-courses, and cattle peacefully browse on the daisy-spattered grass where England's first navy used to anchor. The shore of these flats is shingle and mud; it has to be protected with faggots kept in place by stakes that have a tendency to grow.
The exact site of Old Winchelsea is known to no mortal man, but it must have been farther south than the present town, and it is probably
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