Winchelsea showcases its heritage

HISTORIC Winchelsea has found a high-tech way to participate in the national Heritage Open Days this weekend.

Historic buildings that are normally closed will be open to the public and buildings to which admission is normally charged are open for free.

Winchelsea Archaeological Society will be organising a novel “QR tour” around Winchelsea. QRs are the square black-and-white barcodes that you often see on adverts.

They can be read by smartphones and iPads. When a QR code is scanned, it releases information that can be read on the smartphone or iPad.

A series of these QR codes will be placed around Winchelsea. Each one will tell the story of the location where it is placed. Anyone with a suitable device can walk around and read the codes.

The main event will be the opening of Blackfriars Barn cellars, which are owned by the National Trust but have been closed for several years for repairs. These are the finest of Winchelsea’s 51 medieval vaulted cellars and contain a unique collection of medieval ship graffiti scratched on one wall.

On Saturday, visitors can join tours of the ruins and cellars of Blackfriars Barn, which is thought to have been a medieval guildhall, only becoming a barn in the last century.

These tours will be led by the Winchelsea Archaeological Society and are scheduled for 11am, 12:30pm and 2pm. The tours are free and there is no booking. In addition, the Winchelsea Archaeological Society will be leading one of its normal cellar tours at 2:00pm from Castle Street (£5 to join).

Over the weekend, the Corporation Museum in the Court Hall will be open for free.

The Church will be open as usual and there will be a talk at 3pm by the recently retired Canon Howard Cocks on the stained glass windows and an organ recital at 4pm.

Wesley’s Chapel will also be open on Saturday.

On Sunday, there will be two more tours of Blackfriars Barn, a repeat of the talk on the stained glass windows of the Church, free access to the Corporation Museum and a photographic exhibition about the Corporation in the Court Hall at 1pm.

Organisers expressed disappointment that requests to the owners of Greyfriars to open the ruins of the monastery chapel were refused.