Handed a gavel: Tomorrow, Saturday April 28th friends and visitors are welcome to the Wesley Chapel to meet Alison Butler from the Methodist Artefacts Committee. Alison will be speaking about her work and historic treasures of Methodism. She will also be handing over a gavel, such as judges and auctioneers use to call for order; the wood of which came from the original ash tree that stood at the boundary wall of St Thomas’ Church. It was under the canopy of this tree that John Wesley liked to stand or sit and preach the Gospel to the people of Winchelsea. From a cutting of the original a thriving ash tree now stands in its place known as the ‘Wesley Tree’ and celebratory services are held there once a year. The Chapel doors are open for the talk at 10am for a 10.30 start and light refreshments will be at hand.

Nest of Pirates: The Friends of the Ancient Monuments (FOAM) invite all to a talk given by David Hopkins on Saturday April 28th. Entitled ‘The Cinque Ports, Cradle of the Navy or a Nest of Pirates’ David will be examining the history of this renowned confederation in his illustrated talk. In this talk he will be separating myth from reality in assessing the true importance of the Cinque Ports. The talk will take place in the New Hall at 2.30pm and the cost is members £5 and non-members £6. Tea and cakes will be served after the talk.

Bowls Club: The annual Bowls season begins with two Open Days held on Saturday and Sunday April 28th and 29th from 1pm onwards meeting behind the New Hall. This event is open to all and refreshments and nibbles will be available all afternoon. ‘If you’ve never bowled before, it doesn’t matter or if you’ve not bowled for a long time that doesn’t matter either. But if you think you’re too old that’s nonsense, you are more than welcome to join the rest of the group.’ They are just a friendly bunch looking to enjoy a game of bowls and each other’s company. If you have any questions just ring Paul on 07495 005664. He is always happy to help.

Open Gardens: On Tuesday May 1st nine gorgeous secret gardens in Winchelsea will be open to visitors, with proceeds in aid of St Michael’s Hospice. The gardens are South Mariteau, Cleveland House, Cleveland Place, The Well House, Rye View, Kings Leap, The Armoury, Periteau House and Lookout Cottage. Total admission is £6 and the gardens will be open between 10.30am and 4pm and all are invited. There are a good number of parking places around the town and refreshments will be served in the New Hall.

Burtons’ tour: The Walking Tour of Burtons’ St Leonards takes place soon on Friday May 4th at 11am. Elizabeth Nathaniels gave an interesting talk to the Conservation Society in February concerning the work of architect Decimus Burton the son of the London builder James Burton who built St Leonards between 1827 and 1837. St Leonards Gardens with its remarkable architectural features is part of the original St Leonards and is to be found behind the Royal Victoria Hotel. The phone number for tickets is 01797 222162 and the cost is £5 which includes tea or coffee.

Jane’s Romantic Seaside: Jane Darcy, writer and lecturer, gave an entertaining illustrated talk at last Friday’s Literary Society meeting. The subject was ‘The Romantic Seaside’ and featured a slide show of 18-19th century cartoon, postcard-style prints of our not-so-modestly clad ancestors soaking up the sun and sea by doctor’s orders. As long as the salt water hadn’t lost its savour it was useful as a therapeutic drink and visitors to the sea would take their seawater dosage mixed with milk to wash it down. At the time it was believed that the sea had health giving properties because a day at the seaside was a panacea to city life although few were aware that seawater contained the minerals chloride, sodium, magnesium, sulphur, potassium and calcium which are all essential to good health; along with an intake of vitamin D from being in the sun. Before the 18th century the sea was often feared and only ships ventured on it. The stranded Robinson Crusoe lived on his island for over 28 years and built his shelter a good distance away from the surrounding sea. In Georgian times the sea was seen as a cure for many ailments and on occasions the patient did improve, though belatedly, a questionable few months later. It was alleged that King George III was taken for a health-giving dip but this was interrupted by a makeshift group of musicians wading into the water singing ‘God save the King’ which ruined the experience and brought him back to reality. Although Jane Darcy is not related to Jane Austin’s Darcy in Pride and Prejudice both enjoy swimming, nevertheless there is no documentation concerning Jane’s swimming ability, her sister burnt her letters, nor did the joy of the sea enter in to her books. The Victorians turned a day at the seaside into a drama with their horse-drawn bathing machines where fashionable people could be seen in their body-concealing swimwear and oilskin hats in sight of spectators on shore with telescopes. These machines went a short way into the sea enabling bathers to drift in shallow water, hidden beneath elongated curves of awning like the necks of strange water beasts. There were also assistants, usually women wearing ordinary clothes and up to their thighs in the water lowering the timid or those with infirmities into the sea. Fortunately, there were no records of any drownings but it is unlikely that bathers went out that far.

Winchelsea Beach

Sunday service: The congregation of St Richard’s Church are invited to attend St Thomas’ Church this Sunday April 29th at 11am. This will be a joint Holy Communion service with all three churches, for the 5th Sunday in the month, and Rector Jonathan Meyer will be leading the service.

Pub 31: With the weather forecast at 12 degrees C plus scattered light showers Pub 31 offers an opportunity to ‘get your rocking dancing shoes on’ and have fun. The pub is on Sea Road and you are invited to come along on Sunday April 29th at 1.30pm when the live band Rockin’ Ambassadors will be entertaining.

Pothole heroes: Recent news on Radio 4 concerned the matter of dealing with potholes on Rome’s roads. Two thoughtful Italian citizens, fed up with the shocking state of the roads in the capital decided that emergency intervention was needed though it was very much a last resort. Their action involved waiting for the ongoing traffic to stop at the lights, at which point one of the men hastened into the road with a bag of tarmac. This he poured into the perilous hole, flattening down the asphalt with his shovel and treading it into place with his boots. It was necessary to do this before the lights changed or risk being run over by oncoming traffic and so far he has stayed safe. But despite this goodwill the problem still remains. A combination of mismanagement, bureaucracy, neglect, corruption and bad weather was given as the reason for the ruinous state of the roads. As a result, the cost of repairs has now risen to 17 million euros. At the beginning of March two cars had to be hauled out of an enormous pothole that opened on one of Rome’s ring roads. This incident was one of many caused by the growing number of potholes and sinkholes in the area.