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A walk within Winchelsea

From the Look Out, walk back up the High Street as far as the first crossroad. You may wish to take a detour into Barrack Square on your right. The name dates from the Napoleonic Wars, when the buildings were used as billets for the garrison. However, the buildings date from the early 1760’s. The previous name of Factory Square reveals their original purpose - as homes and workshops for the workers of the English Linen Company, which manufactured lawn, cambric and Italian crepe here, from flax grown in the Brede Valley. The buildings were built over repaired medieval cellars, which provided the cool and humid conditions needed to work the flax. The factory had 86 looms attended by 160 spinners, winders and weavers and 26 apprentices, mainly local orphans. Two Huguenot weavers were brought over to superintend the factory, Messieurs Mariteau and Periteau, whose names live on.

At the end of Barrack Square is a small lane which leads to the edge of the northern cliff and to steps leading down to Tanyard Lane (A259). These are Spring Steps. At the foot of the first section of steps is a brick arch over Queen Elizabeth's Spring, the name commemorating the visit in August 1573 of Good Queen Bess, who apparently entered the town by walking up Spring Steps. The Queen is supposed to have referred to Winchelsea as "Little London" but it is not clear whether she was being sarcastic, as the town was in a very poor state by then (there were just 60 households). Take care using these steps and be aware that, at the bottom ,they debouch onto a very hazardous section of the A259.

Walk through Barrack Square to Spring Steps

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3 Barrack Square

Barrack Square
Barrack Square