Highways and Byways in Sussex - online book

An illustrated appreciation, of the most interesting districts in Sussex.

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xxxvin               WINCHELSEA'S VICISSITUDES                      361
began to show tokens of the great tempest of wind that followed, which was so huge and mightie, both by land and sea, that the like had not been lightlie knowne, and seldome, or rather never heard of by men then alive. The sea forced contrarie to his natural course, flowed twice without ebbing, yeelding such a rooring that the same was heard (not without great woonder) a farre distance from the shore. Moreover, the same sea appeared in the darke of the night to burne, as it had been on fire, and the waves to strive and fight togither after a marvellous sort, so that the mariners could not devise how to save their ships where they laie at anchor, by no cunning or shift which they could devise. At Hert-burne three tall ships perished without recoverie, besides other smaller vessels. At Winchelsey, besides other hurte that was doone, in bridges, milles, breakes, and banks, there were 300 houses and some churches drowned with the high rising of the water course."
The Winchelsea people, however, did not abandon their town. In 1264 Henry III. was there on his way to the Battle of Lewes, and later, Eleanor, wife of Henry's conqueror, de Mont-fort, was there too, and encouraged by her kindness to them the Winchelsea men took to active sea piracy, which de Montfort encouraged. In 1266, however, Prince Edward, who disliked piracy, descended upon the town and chastised it bloodily; while on February 4, 1287, a greater punishment came, for during another storm the town was practically drowned, all the flat land between Pett and Hythe being inundated. New Winchelsea, the Winchelsea of to-day, was forthwith begun under royal patronage on a rock near Icklesham, the north and east sides of which were washed by the sea. A castle was set there, and gates, of which three still standóPipewell, Strand and Newórose from the earth. The Grey Friars monastery and other religious houses were reproduced as at Old Winchelsea, and a prosperous town quickly existed.
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