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Pevensey & Westham (Sussex, England)

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City: Pevensey and Westham

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      31.03.2009 11:04

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      A nice place to live and equally nice for a morning or afternoon visit

      What an interesting overview - from someone who quite obviously loves their village. I have lived in Rattle Road for 26 years and have often wondered whether there was any information on Gallows Lane and Rattle Road itself. Two of my daughters have been married in the village - one in each of the two churches there. One had some beautiful wedding photographs taken under the great walls of Pevensey Castle. I also love the place and have glorious views from the back garden across fields to the font and views of the Sussex Downs to the right. I'm ashamed to say that I have never made use of any of the local village pubs. As they say, you never visit places on your own doorstep! I, too, have heard the many ghost stories that abound in the village and am determined to partake in the ghost walk this summer. It is also great cycling territory where you can safely cycle on country lanes out through Rickney and all the way to Herstmonceux if you are feeling energetic. Very little traffic to be encountered other than occasional tractors and horses.

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      30.11.2004 22:57
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      A historian's dream destination

      After searching through this site, I found that my little home village isn't on here! Well considering all the heritage it has, I had to get it included. So join me on a trip through my village and its neighbour....

      I've lived in Westham since I was eighteen months old, it's all I've known and I've come to pick up a lot of the tales surrounding it. Really it goes hand in hand with the neighbouring village of Pevensey, which is also jam packed with history.


      ====History====

      Seems like a good place to start! Well Pevensey is only a mile away from Norman's Bay where William the Conquerer landed before marching along the coast to Battle Abbey where the famous Battle of Hastings took place in 1066.

      On returning to Pevensey, William ordered a castle to be built. Luckily for him, the Romans had already constructed Pevensey Castle. Using the outer walls as further protection, a new castle was built inside, with a small church constructed inside that.

      Both the outer and inner walls are open to the public, although to access the Norman walls does require a fee to be paid, which goes to English Heritage. I'll go into more detail on the castle later on.

      Further down the road, in Westham, so called because it is the west hamlet to the castle, is the first church constructed by the Normans in England. St Mary's was built in 1080AD.

      ====Pevensey Castle====

      As I've already said, this is two castles in one. A lot of the outer walls, natuarlly have crumbled over the years, but I understand that they were used in the Second World War to hide gunmen looking out to the English Channel. The inner walls is where the real interest is as it's more intact.

      Once you've crossed the bridge over the moat, you will instantly notice the remains of the old chapel. Also easily seen is the pile of cannon balls and the cannon - good photo opportunities! There are a few dungeons to explore, the best of which is very daunting. It's the outside dungeon that involves going down a spiral staircase. Once down the stairs, you'll probably be greeted with about a foot of water. This is the dungeon where captors were chained up and waited for the tide to come in, drowning them. Pleasant people weren't they!

      You will also notice by the entrance, a grid in the floor. This is where people were thrown down - breaking numerous bones, and then had boiling oil thrown on them, or just be left to starve to death in their extreme pain.


      ====Churches====

      St Nicholas - Pevensey
      I'll be honest here, and admit I don't really know much about this one. It's a very small church and quite a popular place for weddings, as it's quiet and pretty.

      St Mary's - Westham
      This is the one I said was built by the Normans. It's quite an impressive church with love windows. In the church yard are seven stones in a form of circle. This is the Stuart Plague Pit. All those who lost their lives during the Plague in the 17th (I think it's 17th) Century were buried.

      At the moment their a contoversial row going on, as a decision's been made to silence the bells through safety issues, which has angered many locals.

      ====The Mint House====

      Currently this is an antiques shop found in Pevensey. But beneath it are some old smugglers tunnels that run right down to the sea. These have all been boarded up now for safety reasons. There's apparently a sign inside the shop that says "Please don't be alarmed if you feel a cold breeze or a hnad on your shoulder". Spooky!

      ====The Old Jail====

      Don't think I really need to explain what this is! These days it's a museum - a very small museum. The whole building is just one up one down. Not much else to say about it really.

      ===Pubs====

      For such a small area there's a lot of pubs. There's the Pevensey Castle in Westham, which is ok, but a bit cold in appearance to me. The Royal Oak and Castle, which I don't go in much, but is meant to do nice food. And the Smugglers, which is the best for families as it has a large play area.

      There's also a hotel there that is open to the public.

      ====Places to Eat====

      The Castle Tearooms only opens certain months but is always very popular when it is open and does a lot of cream teas.

      There's a fish restaurant that I can't spell! It does offer other food too for the non fish eaters. it regularly has themed nights and I keep meaning to go there, when I do I'll let you know.

      Next door to that is the fish and chip shop. They do a good cod and chips and if you're feeling brave a battered mars bar for pudding. Actually they're very nice - honest!

      ====Amenities====

      Being a village, there's obviously not that much. There's the corner shop, which sells a few grocery's but is really a news agents. The Post Office doubles as a bakery. There's an insurance brokers, photocopy shop, antiques shop, goldsmiths.

      There's the doctors surgery and also a primary school - where I used to go!

      ====Public Transport====

      Despite being quite rural, there's good contact with the towns. The station is on the main line to London. The Line runs through from Hastings to Eastbourne, where Victoria is easily accessable.

      They've also just reintroduced the local bus service. This will take you into to Lnagney where there's a shopping centre or into Eastbourne's town centre. If you fancy a short walk, then on the other side of the castle, is another bus route to Eastbourne or to the East Hastings.

      ====Stories of the Villages - Yes I Mean Ghosts!====

      First of all I must tell you about some of the road names. In Westham is Rattle Road. Legend says that it's called this because you could here the bones of the hangman rattling from Gallows Lane, which still exists today.

      As well as hanging people, chopping off their heads was popular too. When leaving Pevensey to go towards Norman's Bay, you cross Executioners Bridge. I would imagine they just lopped of the head and let it float down the river to the sea - charming!

      Ghosts are a big part of the area, with regular ghost walks. The castle is full of them. There's the piper who patrols the battlements, a drummer in the dungeons and sometimes you can see a row of Roman soldiers marching, but you can only see them from the waist up as they're still walking on the old road.

      The Mint House has a good story. It goes that the husband came home to find his wife in bed with her lover. The two men dualled to the death, with one being stabbed and the other falling backwards out the window. Before he died, the husband cut his wife's tongue out. It's said that she still haunts the mint house running round screaming with blood pouring from her mouth.

      I know what you're all thinking, have you actually seen any ghosts? Well, no. None of the ones I've mentioned anyway. I have seen a monk go through my house, which probably haunts the old priory up the road. My mum has also seen a little girl in her room. I can definitely feel a presence around the house.


      ====So There You Go====

      There's a bit about the village I grew up in. It really is a pretty place. You couldn't spend a day out there, but if you're passing through then it's worth a look.

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