The Sussex Coast - online book

A Literary & Historical travel guide to the Sussex Coast

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WINCHELSEA                          371
rise over cusped arches, all the details, foliage with oak-leaves, heads and other features are of the best. On the north there are three—a figure in armour, a lady and a boy have effigies in black marble, but who they were is unknown. The two tombs on the south almost certainly represent Gervase and Stephen Alard, the latter the grand­son of the former, and both were admirals of the Cinque Ports. The great family of Alard was settled at Winchelsea soon after the Conquest, and no less than eleven of them at different times held the office of Bailiff and superintended the government of the port, both when it stood on the flats by the sea and after its movement to the Iham heights. Though in Italy extremely common, in England it was extremely rare for a conspicuous family thus generation after genera­tion to dominate the administration of a town. Gervase Alard was employed in Solway Firth to support Edward's invasions of Scotland ; his effigy is one of the very few mediaeval examples in Eng­land that will stand the very closest examination ; his legs are crossed, he lies in chain armour, his feet on a lion which is turning its head, his hands clasp a heart, and the mail is turned back at the wrists ; his monument is the most ornate of any in the church, with triple gables and diaper-work at the back.
The town suffered constantly from French raids. In 1377 it was successfully defended by the brave Abbot of Battle, Hamo of Offyngton, called the saver of Sussex and of England, who also rescued the captured Prior of Lewes. In 1380, however, the place was taken and burnt, and it suffered the same fate again in 1449, by which time its fortunes were hopelessly on the wane. The present timber
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