Chesil Beach & the Fleet, Dorset

Chesil Beach & the Fleet, Dorset
Chesil Beach & the Fleet, Dorset

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Sussex on a sunny September day

Because we're barely 20 miles from the border of Kent with East Sussex, I spend almost as much time riding there as I do in my home county.
Today's little jaunt took me right down through 1066 Country, to some of the most historically important places in the county.

BATTLE
Town named after Battle Abbey, which stands in the centre of the town. The abbey was built overlooking the scene of the Battle of Hastings and dedicated to St. Martin. The battle itself took place at Senlac.
In 1070 Pope Alexander II ordered the Normans to do penance for killing so many people during their conquest of England. So William the Conqueror vowed to build an abbey where the Battle of Hastings had taken place, with the high altar of its church on the supposed spot where King Harold fell in that battle on Saturday, 14 October 1066. He did start building it, dedicating it to St. Martin, sometimes known as "the Apostle of the Gauls," though William died before it was completed. Its church was finished in about 1094 and consecrated during the reign of his son William Rufus.
Although ruined during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the impressive gatehouse is a magnificent centrepiece to the little town.


The town itself is well worth a wander round, with its pretty buildings and plentiful shops and cafes. 


Also worth a visit is the Yesterday's World, museum of shops, which stands across the road from the Abbey ruins. Expect plentiful cries of 'My Mum had one of those!' and 'Ooh I remember them!'

PEVENSEY

Well, Pevensey Castle actually.
Beginning in the 4th century as one of the last and strongest of the Roman 'Saxon Shore' forts, two-thirds of whose towered walls still stand. It was the landing place of William the Conqueror's army in 1066. During the century after the Conquest a full-scale Norman castle, with a great square keep and a powerful gatehouse, was built within one corner of the fort. In the 1250s the towered bailey wall was constructed, and soon put to the test during the great siege of 1264.
Although in ruins, the site is huge, and there's plenty to look at.





WINCHELSEA


Winchelsea is one of those small places that has benefitted by being by-passed at quite an early stage. The tortuous hill that carried most of the traffic between Hastings and Rye around the outside of the town, has meant that the old structure of the town has been preserved.
Founded in 1288 by Edward I, it lies about a mile inland from the current coastline, approximately two miles from Rye and seven miles from Hastings.
The town was laid out in a grid pattern of streets, as is clearly still visible to the present day. A large number of cellars were constructed at the time, and guided tours of these famous Medieval Cellars are run by a team of volunteers. 
Almost the entire town is a designated Conservation Area and most of the surrounding land is owned and managed by the National Trust. Many buildings in the town are Grade I or Grade II listed. The present town replaced an earlier town of the same name, sometimes known as Old Winchelsea, destroyed by storms in 1287.

There are many buildings of significant interest within the town, including 3 of the original town gates. 

The Church of St. Thomas lies amidst ruins, at the heart of the town, and is well worth investigating.