Winchelsea Firebrand barrels

Under Winchelsea cellar tours


Winchelsea is a pretty Sussex village built on the bones of a medieval town and port. Under its quiet streets are more than 50 vaulted medieval cellars or undercrofts, a number rivalled in this country only in the cities of Bristol, Norwich and Southampton. Most of the cellars are thought to have been built around 1285-1300.

Guided tours by the Winchelsea Archaeological Society explain why and how they were built. And you’ll also be able to learn about the history of Winchelsea, including its foundation by Edward I in 1288 to replace a previous town of the same name that was lost to the sea and its role as Head Port of the Cinque Port Confederation and a major medieval Channel port. Our guides are uptodate with the latest archaeological and historical research.

Most tours start at 2:00pm from Castle Street (see the map) and last at least 90 minutes. The cost is £5 and includes a guidebook to the cellars.

Proceeds go to WAS (registered charity 1143524) to pay for new archaeology. To ensure there are spaces on a tour, call 01797-224446. Tours will go ahead rain or shine.

The tour will take you down old cellar steps. Access can also be slightly awkward. So please wear sensible shoes. You may want to bring a torch but it is not necessary.

Private tours

If you have a party of at least 15, we can arrange private tours on any day of the week, at the standard charge.

Special Heritage Open Day Tours of the Cellars Under Blackfiars Barn

On Sunday, 10 September 2017, WAS will be conducting free tours as part of Heritage Open Days on behalf of the National Trust of Winchelsea’s grandest cellar, a three-chambered vault which is not normally open to the public. The cellar has some very rare medieval ship graffiti. WAS volunteers were involved in the clearing and recording of the graffiti, and can give you an unrivalled commentary. You will also be able to see reconstructions of the above-ground medieval building and the cellar. And you can hear about the huge deposit of ceramic debris that was found in the cellar, the largest in the South East, which WAS is also involved in the sorting and cataloguing.

Meet on the Cricket Field, opposite the Wesley Chapel on Rectory Lane (A259(T)) at 11:00 or 14:00.