The treasure beneath your feet


Many visitors to the ancient town and Cinque Port of Winchelsea wander around and admire the beauty of the modern village and some of its old buildings. But few realise what is under their feet, and should be of great interest to students of architecture, history and vineyards. The village boasts more than 50 medieval cellars, a number rivalled only by the cities of Southampton and Norwich. Most of the cellars are vaulted and were built around 1290-1300, at the same time as the medieval town was founded by Edward I.

There are a few opportunities to see these magnificent remnants of the medieval port town. Every year, the Winchelsea Archaeological Society (WAS) conducts tours. You can find out why and how they were built, and also learn something of the history of Winchelsea.

All tours start at 2pm on Castle Street (TN36 4EL). The cost is £5 and proceeds go to WAS, a registered charity, to pay for new archaeology. You can reserve places by calling 01797 224446 or email

The dates for this year are:

  • April¬† – Monday 6
  • May – Monday 4, Monday 25
  • June – Saturday 6, Sunday 21
  • July – Saturday 4, Sunday 26
  • August – Saturday 8, Monday 31
  • September – Saturday 5, Sunday 20
  • October – Saturday 3, Sunday 18

Photo: Richard Comotto

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