The Sussex Coast - online book

A Literary & Historical travel guide to the Sussex Coast

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WINCHELSEA                          375
School to preserve the tradition. In 1738, says De Foe, " Grass grows not only where the Harbour was, but even in the streets"; in 1807, writes Gough, "The grass which grows in the streets, though paved frequently, lets for 4Z. a year, and little more than the skeleton of a regular and handsome town remains." In 1790 preached John Wesley under the large ash-tree west of the church, and though he complains that he could not induce the people to give up smuggling, " the accursed thing," there is still a flourishing Methodist community in the town.
Henry VIII., specially anxious to defend this shore, built a strong castle for the defence of what was left of the port, and though it is locally said that originally a biscuit could be thrown from its parapets on to the decks of the ships, it now stands helplessly in the middle of the marshes, more than a mile from the sea. It is called Camber Castle, the first word being the East Sussex dialect term for a harbour. It is of considerable interest, as illustrating the modification of mediaeval methods of fortification after artillery had become a serious weapon, and, indeed, it approximates to the design of the martello towers. The plan of the curtain is formed by four huge circular buildings at the corners, between them on three sides two straight walls forming an obtuse angle, on the other to landward a projecting round-ended gateway. The facing is ashlar, but yellow brick is a good deal used in the interior; the proportions are extremely massive, and the mortar practically cement. The embrasures for the guns are covered by elliptical arches, and each has a wide air-shaft in the thick­ness of the wall. One corner tower contains the kitchen with a huge oven. In the centre of the
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