A walk within Winchelsea
Walk down Castle Street. The first thing you will see, on your right, is the Town Well. This is a positively modern construction, built in 1851 and funded by one Thomas Dawes, who also restored St Thomas's Church. The well was used only until 1895, when Winchelsea got its first modern water and sewage system.
Next to the Town Well, you will see one of the most impressive private dwellings in Winchelsea, the Armoury, another name dating from the time of the Napoleonic War garrison. The present appearance of the building is largely the result of fanciful rebuilding at the end of the 19th century by Miss Maud Peel, niece of Sir Robert Peel, and hides the remains of one of the best preserved houses dating from the foundation of the town.
On the left-hand side of Castle Street, you will pass the Old Castle House - this was the Castle Inn until 1990.
On the corner of Castle Street and Mill Road, you will find the end of a row of cottages which were once the Salutation Inn. The full name was the Salutation of the Angel and Our Lady of the Grey Friars (there is still a pub of that name in Newgate Street in the City of London), reflecting the origin of the building as a hospice run by the Grey Friars for pilgrims on their way to the shrine of Santiago de Compostella in Spain (Winchelsea was a major port of departure for pilgrims). At the base of the Salutation Inn, you will see the entrance to a cellar. This runs along the length of the cottages and is divided into three chambers. The cellar has particularly fine ribs with gargoyle corbels. It is open to visitors as part of the Under Winchelsea cellar tours conducted by the Winchelsea Archaeological Society.
On the other side of the road is Chelsea Cottage, the home between 1971 and 1982 of Malcolm Saville, the author of the famous Lone Pine Club series of childrens books, many of which were based in the neighbourhood. The names of Chelsea Cottage and its neighbour, Amerique, come from ships. The captain of the Chelsea salvaged the Amerique and used the salvage money to build both houses.
Ahead of you, at end of Castle Street, is a house called Kings Leap. The name commemorates an incident in 1297, when Edward I was inspecting the progress of work on the new town. As he rode towards a low parapet which defended the top of the steep cliff (somewhat further along North Street from the house), his horse was frightened by the noise of a nearby windmill and refused to go any further. When the King urged the horse on, it panicked and leapt over the parapet, disappearing from sight and taking the King with it. Fortunately, the cliffside was deep in mud and Edward survived. So did the horse, although the King sold it off at half price in disgust.
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8 Castle Street
Armoury and Town Well