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NLHG Newsletter Archive




























April 2015

Historical Winchelsea:

Our talk last month was entitled "Strange Goings on in the Ancient Borough of Winchelsea" by Malcolm Pratt. Malcolm is a local historian and lived in Winchelsea for many years. He used letters and documents from the 17th, 18th & 19th Centuries to give us an insight into the lives of the poor living in the town and their dependence on the charity of the Parish. Maolcolm told us about a big fund raising initiative at the moment to restore the Pipewell Gate, part of the original walled enclosure of the town.

If you go to Winchelsea at 11am on Easter Monday you can witness the ceremony of "Mayoring" i.e. choosing the town Mayor for the next year. This ancient ritual has been performed for hundreds of years and occurs at the old Court House.


Forthcoming meetings: 7.30pm in the Methodist Hall unless stated otherwise

April 16th 2015AGM with a talk by Kevin Gordon on “The Lost Village of Tidemills”

May 21st 2015Witches, Warlocks & Wellingtons by Dr Janet Pennington

June 18th 2015Henry VIII a talk by Tony Harris

July 16thOh We Do Like To Be Beside the Seaside! with Ian Gledhill


September 12thExhibition at the Memorial Hall details to follow

September 17thTwittens & Cat Creeps in Hastings Old Town Clive Richardson

October 15thSussex & the Napoleonic Wars by Helen Poole

November 19thA Sussex Farm During the 1950s with Ian Everest


Other Local Events



Windmills and Watermills: During April several Sussex mills will begin their open season including: Batemans, Chailey, Michelham, Nutley, Polegate and Stone Cross. Check the website for details


Bexhill Museum are organizing an outing:  Wed, 22 April, 08:30 – 18:00 to

Standen House and East Grinstead.

First stop is the National Trust house and garden, Standen, of the Arts & Crafts period. Then a tour of East Grinstead's

medieval High Street, followed by a tour of Sackville College, which was built as almshouses for the elderly. £33 per person (£24 for NT members). For more information please call 01424 846369


Batemans: If you haven’t been for a while there is currently a fascinating exhibition on the Kipling family in WW1. Short excerpts from letters written by family and friends tell the story from John setting off on his training with great excitement and hope though to his final letter written just days before he was reported missing after his first battle. Batemans is a National Trust property in Batemans Lane, Burwash and open 10.00 until 5.00. £9.50 for non members (house and gardens).





General News

Saxon Relics: Just before Christmas, a hoard of Saxon Coins was dug up in a field in Arundel. It is believed that it was buried in haste from William the Conqueror’s men who swept along the Sussex coat before and after the battle of Hastings. The battle ended 500 years of Saxon rule in the south of England, which started in the year AD 477. King Ælle arrived in three ships with his three sons. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle describe how Ælle fort a battle with the British in 485 near the bank of Mercredesburne, and his siege of the Saxon Shore fort at Andredadsceaster at modern Pevensey in 491 after which the inhabitants were massacred. So the next time you go digging in your garden, you may just come across such treasure hidden from the countless invaders this land has seen.



The Ninfield Yew Trees: The yew tree in the churchyard at Ninfield is reputed to be over 1000 years old.  It has the appearance of a new tree growing in and around the trunk of an old tree.  

With a little imagination it was possible to see the shape of an angel in the old knarred wood.  This was on the side nearest the church (on the left-hand side of the picture).  Unfortunately the tree was damaged in the hurricane of 1987 and the angel is no longer there.

Our ancient cultures considered the yew to be sacred and they were planted at places of pagan worship, some of which later became sites of Christian churches.  Therefore, in a few cases the yew tree is older than the church.

In Medieval Britain there was a great demand for yew  wood;  it was reputed to be the best timber for making the English longbow.  The supply of yew trees, in our woodlands became  exhausted so suitable  timber had to be imported.    

The only yews remaining here were those in the churchyards, which were usually enclosed and protected by superstition.

There is a theory that yews were planted in churchyards to prevent archers taking suitable branches and making bows to use against the King’s men.  Another theory is that being toxic yews were planted in churchyards to deter farmers and drovers from letting their animals wander into the burial ground. Today the powerful  chemotherapy drug Taxol is derived from the yew tree. Liz



Group Contacts:


Rod Ffoulkes (Chair)  Tel: 893635, Janice Wood (Secretary) & Martin Wood (Treasurer) Tel: 892895,   Corinne Gibbons (Membership) Tel: 892612, Jan Cooper (Archivist)  Tel: 893381, Liz Darbyshire Tel: 893575, Janet Savage Tel: 892749, John Cheshire (Newsletter)  Tel: 892248.