Winchelsea & Winchelsea Beach news
Winchelsea & Winchelsea Beach news

Birthday party: On Saturday June 24th from 2pm onwards The Rye Bookshop will be open as usual and celebrating its second birthday with members from the Literary Society attending. There will be drinks and nibbles, and hopefully a local author or two, as well as some children’s craft events. It will also sadly be the manager Lizzie’s last day at the Bookshop as she is off to pastures new in July. So the birthday party is an also opportunity to say goodbye to Lizzie and welcome the new manager to Rye Bookshop.

Winchelsea Singers: This year’s Summer Soiree arranged by the Winchelsea Singers takes place tomorrow June 24th at 7pm in the New Hall. A Cash Bar will be available during the evening. Tickets are £20 each and the number to ring for reservations is 01797 223159. The programme will feature musical entertainment by artists Iain Kerr and Ann Rachlin plus cameos from the Winchelsea Singers and also included will be a glass of bubbly and a very appetising two-course supper.

Commedia dell’arte: In the cool of the summer evening last Sunday the Rude Mechanical Theatre performed in the grounds of St Thomas’ School. The Commercial Traveller was written and directed by Pete Talbot although the script was open to changes during the making and helped by ideas from the actors until it gradually developed which is how the Mechanicals work. The result was the triumph of love over money with the wealthy self-made barrow boy Sir Arthur Cattermole needing to be taught a lesson. His blundering attempts to hinder true love failed and the two 1920s flappers got their Bertie and Gerald. As the victim of a terrible plot Arthur finally had to accept that even he could not have everything. Each actor played several different characters with quick skillful changes that it seemed they might all appear on stage at the same time. There were a few characters like the commercial traveller who were in disguise but it was clear who they really were. Though not to be confused by the various roles each played in which they were not the same person. The characters wore brightly coloured cloth wigs like drooping shower caps, faces were pasty white with clown patterns and costumes were stunning. It was good cartoonesque fun and described by the writer Talbot as ‘actors telling a story, not trying to imitate real life’.

Tapestry repair: The Sleath tapestry at the back of St Thomas’ Church was removed a few weeks ago for repair work which was funded by church grants. This is now renovated and newly framed and should be good for another hundred years. Although one of the hanging brackets has been found to be faulty and will have to be repaired before the tapestry returns. The maker of the tapestry William Sleath was apprenticed to William Morris at the age of 7 in 1874 and learnt tapestry weaving. In his early years he lost an eye due to it being hit by a passing cricket ball. His career as a tapestry weaver and painter appears all the more incredible with this impediment. The theme of the Sleath Tapestry is from the Fra Angelico Predella of San Dominico, Florence, but Sleath added floral designs following the pre-Raphaelite tradition. This tapestry came to Winchelsea as a gift from the Beddington sisters, Maud and Beatrice who were residents in the town during the 1920s. They also gave the two large paintings hanging in the New Hall. Maud who was a painter and designed textiles for Sleath was also a member of the Burne-Jones – William Morris Circle. Other connections at the time were the pre-Raphaelite set who were regular visitors to the town. Such artists were John Everett Millais who described Winchelsea as ‘the most lovely of places’ after his first visit in a letter to the mother of the author Wilkie Collins whose family were his close friends; also Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Evelyn de Morgan John Ruskin and Elizabeth Siddal. These memorable visitors and residents have added greatly to the town’s rich heritage.

Winchelsea Beach

St Richard’s foundations: This Sunday St Richard’s Church will be holding a Holy Communion service starting at 9.30am for one hour. Friends and holiday visitors from the caravan sites are all very welcome to attend. Although this should not affect the stability of church gatherings the building itself is currently undergoing structural inspection. This process involves engineers examining drainage around the foundations to establish any subsidence and measure movement over the year ahead in order to decide on the repairs needed to the church. An update will be issued in due course.

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