Winchelsea & Winchelsea Beach news
Winchelsea & Winchelsea Beach news

Who and why: The questions surrounding the mysterious Lady Julian of Norwich will be reviewed at this evening’s Literary Society meeting when theologian Claire Foster-Gilbert will explain all. Drinks will be available at 7 for a 7.30pm start in the Lower Court Hall.

FOAM talk: Writer and historian Malcolm Pratt will be giving his talk on ‘Smuggling in Winchelsea Area’ tomorrow (Saturday) at 2.30pm in the New Hall. Entry cost is £5 and all are invited to come and find out more. Tea and cake will be served after the talk. The new town of Winchelsea was a major port during the 14th century but it declined after the 16th century and the town became infamous for smuggling. From 1758 when smuggling was at its height John Wesley was a frequent visitor to Rye and Winchelsea. However, preaching to the local people was often a challenge for Wesley who glumly remarked, “They do many things gladly: but they will not part with the accursed thing, smuggling.” Malcolm Pratt has written two very detailed books on Winchelsea and they are ‘A Port of Stranded Pride’ (1998) and ‘The Tale of a Medieval Town’ (2005).

History talk: St Thomas’ Church is hosting a talk sponsored by Winchelsea Archaeological Society tomorrow October 21st. Doors open at 2 for 2.30pm and the cost is £5 for non-members. The talk will be given by Kathleen Tyson whose expertise is in medieval history and she will be investigating the 1066 Norman navigation landing and camps in the Brede Valley.

Army of invaders: Zdenka Fantlova the 95-year-old Holocaust Survivor told her astonishing story to a keenly attentive audience in St Thomas’ Church last Sunday afternoon. The tickets were sold out days before for this popular Winchelsea Arts event which also included musical compositions played beautifully on the violin, viola, cello, piano and harp. Some of these pieces were performed at the concentration camps such as Terezin where Zdenka was an actress and this opportunity for creativity and free expression helped to keep these ‘prisoners’ in sound mind. Zdenka had a happy childhood growing up in Czechoslovakia until everything changed at the age of seventeen. On March 15th 1939 her father woke the family to tell them to look out of the window. They opened the curtains and through the second floor window were presented with a nightmarish scene. It was a sight that noone would want to wake up to. The German army had invaded their country ‘like a flood rolling down the street. Men in motorcycles, in strange uniforms and iron helmets were hurtling out of the west in rows and columns. It sounded like the roar of an earthquake.’ This was no appeasement matter; Hitler was taking all of Czechoslovakia. Zdenka realised this was the end of their freedom and felt a chilling premonition of what was to come. In the next few years of the war she survived six concentration camps which included Belsen and Auschwitz and endured starvation, violence, freezing temperatures and humiliation. When Bergen-Belsen was liberated by the British in 1945 she was dying of typhus and weighed 5.5 stone. Zdenka showed no bitterness but based much of her survival on accepting the situation calmly while never giving up hope or her trust in God. Amongst the many people who helped to make this concert an interesting and invaluable experience much appreciation goes to Ann Rachlin MBE, Rabbi David Mitchell of West London Synagogue, Revd Canon Robin Whitehead and the skilful group of musicians.

Winchelsea Beach

Albatrosses: A talk given by Ian Rumley-Dawson entitled ‘Albatrosses’ will take place tomorrow Saturday October 21st at 2.30pm in the Community Hall. These spectacular birds are equipped with wing spans of up to 11 feet, can fly without landing for more than six months and drink salt water. As birds of the South Atlantic they are unlikely to come this far although one did appear at the Suffolk nature sanctuary two years ago. The Friends of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve have organised the event and all are welcome to come along. Admission is free but donations towards the reserve would be gratefully received.

Church news: As it is the fourth Sunday in the month there will be a Holy Communion service on October 22nd in St Richard’s Church. The service will begin at the usual time of 9.30am and friends and visitors are welcome to attend. Having different ministers taking the services in the interim period has been helpful while awaiting a permanent Rector to the post and the church appreciates all the support. A new Rector has now been appointed and he is Jonathan Meyer aged 62 from Oxford. His wife is Shirley and he has two grown up daughters plus a dog. Many years ago Jonathan worked at Southebys before going into the ministry and it is anticipated that he will move to Winchelsea as the Rector in February 2018.

Spooky fun: With the spectre of Halloween darkly approaching the New Inn in Winchelsea will be partying next Saturday October 29th. This will be a Halloween Fancy Dress Party for children from 4 till 6pm and entry is free. The winners of the best costumes will receive £30 – 1st prize, £20 – 2nd prize and £10 – 3rd prize. Also included is a free treasure hunt and plenty of scary excitement!