HISTORY SOCIETY: The Cinque (sink) Ports are a British institution dating back to Medieval times. They were a confederation of Channel ports in the south east of the country chosen to provide ships and men for the king’s service in return for trade and taxation privileges. That this commitment still survives was last seen at its best when ships from the ports played an important role in rescuing thousands of men from the beaches of Dunkirk. HMS Winchelsea made four journeys rescuing 4736 men. The original five ports were Sandwich, Dover, Hythe, New Romney and Hastings to which were later added the ancient towns of Rye and Winchelsea and it was the latter which was the subject of an interesting and informative talk by Malcolm Pratt, one time Town Clerk of Winchelsea and now local historian and ambassador for his town. It is now a quiet country town but Malcolm demonstrated how you don’t have to look far tofind the signs that this was once an important port and trading centre. Although much of Winchelsea’s 700 year history lies buried a great deal still stands as proof of an illustrious past. Most of the town walls have disappeared but the three gates, Strand Gate, Pipewell Gate and New Gate, still remain. Like all ancient towns there are ancient traditions still celebrated each year. Malcolm showed us that there is much to see in Winchelsea in her ancient houses and churches. The Court Hall, St Thomas’s Church and St Giles Church, Greyfriars Chapel and Wesley’s Tree are all there for the visitor to enjoy. What could be better on a lovely autumn day than to walk around one of Sussex’s beautiful old towns?