King Edward I needed to protect his ability to muster his naval forces and Winchelsea, along with the other Cinque Ports was a key provider of ships and men. When the old Winchelsea was being lost to the sea, founding a new town of Winchelsea on higher ground was a logical step for Edward to maintain the capabilities his navy.
The town itself is laid out in a grid and many of the street exist today as they were laid out in the thirteenth century. The map below shows how the town was laid out in 1292. The original map showing the streets and land plots was created by W McLean Homan in 1949 using the rent roll of 1292. I have superimposed the modern streets, shown in red and which can be walked today. The town is accessible via the A259 which runs north/south on the west side of town. The town was originally surrounded by water and marsh, but is now landlocked. The river Brede has silted up and with the retreat of the sea, much of the marsh is now pasture.
Some of the key structures remaining are numbered on the map. Some of these, such as the ruins of the Greyfriars monastery are on private land, so please respect the privacy of the property owners. However, the three remaining town gates and the beautiful church of St Thomas are all publicly accessible.
- Land retained by the King
- Remains of St Edward’s church, foundations only remain
- Pipewell gate
- Location of town dock, nothing visible remaining
- New Inn, a good place for lunch
- New court, town museum
- St Thomas church
- Strand gate
- Greyfriars Monastery
- St John’s hospital
- New gate
- Public bathrooms