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A walk around Winchelsea

Continue along German Street into Monks Walk. On the right, you will pass Mariteau House, built about 1763 for the superintendent of the English Line Company in Barrack Square. This was one of the grand houses of Winchelsea but is now broken up into apartments. On the left, you will see Trojans Plat, a post-war Council estate. Next, are the public toilets. The building of the council houses and the public toilets were both contentious issues in Winchelsea.

The debate about the public toilets, which took place in the 1970s, led to a comparison being made between Winchelsea and the fictional French town of Clochemerle (a production of which was showing on TV at the time). The demand for a public toilet arose because of the large numbers of visitors to Winchelsea. Traditionally, they had the use of the facilities at the New Inn. However, in 1970, the New Inn was refurbished and its toilets ceased to be accessible from the outside. A proposal was made for a toilet in St Thomas's Street next to the electricity sub-station, so that it would be close to Castle Street, in which coaches then parked. This proposal was supported by the Rector, the Parish Council and the District Council but was vehemently opposed by residents. The Rector argued that a toilet was "a moral obligation and a desperate need." However, his enthusiasm may also have had something to do with the fact that the Church received some 100,000 visitors a year, mainly by coach, and relied on their donations. As a result of the opposition to the original proposal, the Rector secured permission from the Church authorities to build a toilet entirely in the churchyard, but this raised even more fierce protests and accusations of desecration. The Rector's opponents then seized on a separate proposal to also build a public coach and car park by suggesting that the two should logically be combined. As there was no space for the car and coach park in the centre of Winchelsea, this proposal was clearly aimed at moving the toilet to the edge. The contest featured in the newspapers and on TV, with allusions to Clochemerle, making Winchelsea something of a laughing stock. The matter was finally resolved in 1973 with the choice of the present site in Monks Walk, notwithstanding the objections of residents of the nearby Council estate and the District Council, and the obliteration of the remains of the two ancient houses on the site, one dating from the foundation of the town and the other from the late medieval period. The proposal for a car and coach park was never pursued

Far behind the public toilets, you will see Greyfriars. Buried under the parkland in front of the house is the main market square of the medieval town, known as the Monday Market.

Walk to Mariteau House

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2 Monks Walk

Mariteau House 
Mariteau House