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Members trip to Pevensey Castle

Rye Conservation Society trip to Pevensey.

A group of Conservation Society members had an enjoyable outing to Pevensey on 24 October visiting the Castle, the Old Court House Museum and St Nicholas Parish Church. We took the Marsh Link train from Rye, alighting at Pevensey and Westham station, with a fifteen minute walk to the Castle through the village of Westham which has a number of historic houses and a 14c Church.

Very good weather for our visit

If you have not been to Pevensey Castle the scale of the site is impressive. The original castle was built by the Romans between in about AD290 and it housed it is thought a thousand soldiers , the area enclosed by the roman walls is free to enter and provides today a park and dog walking area. In 1066 these ruined Roman walls were refortified by William the Conqueror and used to surround a great Norman castle which survived until the early sixteenth century, latterly as a royal prison, when it was abandoned. However it was fortified with guns at the time of the Spanish Armada and much later during the Second World War when there were Canadian and US troops billeted within the ancient buildings. The whole site is now managed by English Heritage with an entry fee to the inner castle.

The Keep dominates the inner bailey and was once a grand building containing domestic apartments and provided a useful spot for a machine gun post in the last war. The Keep now is completely ruined and indeed for centuries was covered beneath a mound of earth and rubble. Today much of the architecture remains a puzzle.

Following a tour of the inner castle ruins assisted by audio guides the party adjourned for a good lunch at the Priory Court Hotel nearby.

At 2.30 the group visited the Pevensey Court House and former Town Hall which is now a tiny but very interesting museum set above 19c prison cells.

The benches and even the dock of the Court, in use until 1886, are still in place and we sat there while the museum curator Peter Harrison (below) gave an interesting talk about the long history of Pevensey since its fame as the landing point of the 1066 Norman invasion.

There remained time for a quick look at the 15 century St Nicholas Church, the size of which indicates the wealth of Pevensey in Tudor times. Thanks to lottery funding the Church has recently been restored to a high standard after years of decline.

The day ended happily with the train back to Rye running on time and the weather had remained mild and sunny all day. Plans for further trips which will be publicised in the Conservation Society Newsletter are now underway.

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