366 THE SUSSEX COAST
its original purpose, though this has not been continuously the case. It is built of rubble stone, and at the west end is a chimney with panelled ornament; both lower and upper chambers have large fireplaces with flat segmental arches supported by rather puzzling arrangements of very plain shafts and corbels. The ceiling of the lower and open roof of the upper chambers have heavy timbering; though the windows are modern an original pointed door and round-headed opening remain. Between the stories on the exterior are corbels to support beams evidently for a wooden cloister over the pavement. At the east end is an old lock-up with very thick oak boarding and an opening in the wall has double iron bars.
From the constant visits of the French and the general state of insecurity at the time of Win-chelsea's foundation, and in fact for centuries afterwards, there can be no doubt that its defences were among the first considerations of its builders. Nature had already done much, and the account of the approaches to the town supplied by Thomas Walsingham (c. 1400) is hardly exaggerated. " It stands on a hill very steep to the sea, and overhanging the port; the road leading from it to which is not straight lest its great declivity should make people stumble headlong as they walk down, or oblige them to go up rather on all fours, but slopes downwards, turning sometimes on one side and sometimes to the other." There are three ruined gates, two on the town level and one at the foot of the hill, only a little above the marshes. The Strand Gate, from which there is a magnificent view over the flats to Rye, has four large round turrets that seem to date from the first beginnings of the town, but the flat