Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Admiral Of The Western Fleet

The town of Winchelsea was a favourite project of Edward I's- and he wanted any bloody French invader who managed to drag his sorry arse this far to take one look at it, gulp and slink away. It had strong defences- and the hill on which it stands was to be crowned with a quite magnificent church. Sadly the sea retreated- as the sea does on this marshy stretch of the south coast- and the town is now really no more than a village. As for the church, what's still standing is no more than a fragment of the huge building that Longshanks imagined. Some say the French got through and smashed it, others that the money ran out. There are some half built walls of what would have been a crossing- and the only part that's complete is the chancel- together with its flanking chantry chapels.

The chapels contain five magnificent medieval tombs. They date from the early 14th century- and are as fine as anything anywhere. There are no names (I guess at the time you didn't need to ask) but the grandest of them almost certainly belongs to Gervase Alard- Admiral of the Western Fleet- who died in 1310.

Alard holds his heart between praying hands. I have no idea what that is about. The canopy is supported by the heads of a king and queen- allegedly Edward I and his second wife Margaret.

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