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The Sussex Cottage Holiday Blog - Underground, overground: Winchelsea and Rye

Underground, overground: Winchelsea and Rye

Posted 24 October 2016 by Andrew Gardner

Winchelsea Landgate, East Sussex

Did you know that Winchelsea in Sussex has more medieval cellars than almost any other town in England? There's an astonishing 56, with 33 of them accessible. Most were built in the 13th Century for the wine trade. Volunteers from Winchelsea Archaeological Society conduct tours occasionally, for a very reasonable £5 per person, so if you're lucky enough to be self-catering in Sussex (click here to view our properties around Winchelsea) at the right time (there are two this month and one each in December and January) this would be a super subterranean experience. I've been into the Dorking caves, which are a bit rougher round the edges but equally fascinating - tours are run by the Dorking Museum, and it's easy to get there from our West Sussex holiday cottages - but the Winchelsea Cellars sound different, for the sheer scale as much as anything.

Other tours are available, too - how about 'Hidden Winchelsea: the lost buildings', a unique chance to find out about medieval buildings that were once under the town's fields and lawns. This one usually includes a visit to the nave of the church, Blackfriars Barn and the Blackfriars Monastery. Or there's 'Westside Story: the lost suburbs' which explores the remains of the western defences and suburbs of medieval Winchelsea, walking down to the southern New Gate and back through gorgeous Sussex countryside, following forgotten streets along the slopes of Iham Hill, past the location of the missing Pewis Gate (wonder where that went?) to where the village of Petty Iham stood, overlooking St Leonard's Marsh.

And for something completely different, why not pop over to Rye for the Rye Wild Boar Week (22-30 Oct) - a promising name, I thought. It's all about the culinary delights of wild boar plus quite a few other foodie treats, so you won't be meeting wild boar wandering the historic streets of Rye, and although I'm slightly disappointed not to be guaranteed a wild boar sighting whilst out shopping at least hungry hikers will be assured of a hearty snack en route to your Rye holiday cottage!

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