A walk around Winchelsea
Continue to where Monks Walk curves round to the right to join Rectory Lane (A259). Ahead, you will see a gable wall standing on its own. This was the west wall of St John's Hospital. This was not a hospital in the modern sense, but an almshouse for the poor. In the fields beyond St John's Hospital are the sites of Winchelsea s two other hospitals, St Bartholomew's and Holy Rood, and of St Anthony's Preceptory (a schoolmaster's lodge with a small schoolroom attached). The uneven landscape shows the foundations of these and other buildings.
Cross the road - carefully - to the lane that continues south. This is Wickham Rock Lane (sometimes called Pannel Lane). You can follow the lane or the public footpath that cuts across the fields (there is a stile over the wall to the right of St John s Hospital wall).
Just on the other side of the wall, by the stile, is an interpretation board describing the view in front of you and the history of the location. There are similar boards at three other cardinal viewing points around Winchelsea (the Look Out in the east, bottom of School Hill in the north and the former windmill site in the west).
If you take the footpath, head across the field towards Wickham Manor Farm, which you see ahead of you on a hill. The farmhouse and the surrounding fields are National Trust property. They were once owned by William Penn, who gave his name to Pennsylvania. The footpath crosses five fields connected by stiles and should take you into the driveway of the farm. Turn left down the drive. At the end of the drive, turn left again and follow the lane for a short distance until you get to the bend in the road. On the right, there is a gate and stile, marked with a public footpath signpost, into a field, beyond which is the marsh and beyond that the sea. Now jump ahead to the next section of this walk.
If, instead of following the public footpath across the fields, you follow Wickham Rock Lane, after about a mile, you will suddenly come upon the New Gate (also known as the Land Gate). This had a drawbridge to span the dyke that surrounded the town. Legend has it that it was through the New Gate that the French and Spanish entered the town in 1380 and that the gate was opened by treachery.
Outside the New Gate, there may have been a monumental cross or Holy Rood. Carry on from the New Gate, past two cottages on your left, until you get to a gate and stile also on the left, marked with a public footpath signpost, leading into a field, beyond which is the marsh and beyond that the sea.
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3 St Johns Hospital wall to the New Gate
St Johns Hospital wall
The interpretation board in St Johns Hospital field
The New Gate
Wickham Manor Farm