The Sussex Coast - online book

A Literary & Historical travel guide to the Sussex Coast

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WINCHELSEA                          373
houses; in some ways, indeed, the life of a town during the Middle Ages seems nearer to us than almost anywhere else. As at Chichester, Elizabeth here professed to be reminded of the metropolis and, impressed by " the good situation, ancient buildings, and grave Bench of a Mayor and twelve Jurats in their scarlet gowns, and city-like deport­ment of the people," she gave it, as she thought deservedly, the name of " Little London." * On the north side of the hill, half-way down, where now is a thick wood of young trees, is a spring of the clearest water to which the people have given the name of the queen who so appreciated their town.
John Evelyn neither possesses nor deserves such a memorial, but the account of his visit in his Diary gives an interesting idea of the condition of Winchelsea during the Commonwealth, to whose establishment both its members of Parliament had contributed their support. " 4 June, 1652, at Rie. On Whitsunday I went to the Church (wch is a very faire one) and heard one of their Canters, who dismiss'd the assembly rudely and without any blessing. Here I stay'd till the 10th with no small impatience,! when I walk'd over to survey the ruines of Winchelsea, that ancient Cinq Port, which by the remaines and ruines of ancient streets and public structures discovers it to have been formerly a considerable and large Citty. There are to be seene vast caves and vaults, walls and towers, ruins and monasteries, and a sumptuous Church, in which are some handsome monuments, especially of the Templars burid just in the manner of those in the Temple at London.
* So it is related by Jeake.
t Till his wife should arrive from the Continent.
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