Car thief rams ancient wall

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A stolen car, cutting through Winchelsea early on Easter Saturday, hit and demolished a long section of a 14th-century wall, part of the ruins of the Hospital of St John. The car overshot the bend at the bottom of Monks Walk, crossed the grass verge and collided with the northern side wall of the hospital. The car, a white Mercedes E350, had been reported stolen in Kent. The thief or thieves fled before the police arrived on the scene. Anyone who might have seen what happened or who might have other information is asked to email 101@sussex.pnn.police.uk or phone 101, quoting serial 254 of 4/4.

St-Johns-wallIt was, however, the demolished wall that most concerned local┬ápeople. John Haddock, a spokesman for Winchelsea Heritage, the town’s conservation group, expressed dismay: “This incident illustrates very starkly the threat which traffic poses to the ancient monuments of the town. It is not just stolen cars that race through the town.

“The section of wall that was demolished, although reduced in height, is thought to have been part of the original 14th-century wall of the hospital itself. What next? We know the Strand Gate is routinely being clipped by oversized vehicles. The New Gate is also showing signs of damage. And now this.”

St John’s Hospital was, in fact, a hospice for 12 old people and run by the town. It was closed in the mid-16th century. The ruins are owned by the National Trust, who recently undertook conservation work.

Main photo: Richard Cooper

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