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THIS WEEK PHOTOGRAPH OF THE WEEK: Louis French: Meteorite over Pevensey Bay


COMMUNITY Pevensey Bay Dog walking group and the Big Barn Christmas


BUSINESS Harper Hair Co. lands in Pevensey Bay

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ARTICLE CORRECTION: Robert Stevens Bassett has asked us to point out that the quotes from the book. The Ghosts of Pevensey castle, by Elizabeth Wright, included in this article, are his own work. At the foot of the article is the statement: “TimeTravel-Britain.com is deeply grateful to Robert Slater, host of the Pevensey Castle Ghost Walks, for permitting us to reprint some of his ghost tales in this article.” We apologise for the error in not seeing the attribution..
—Bay Life 16 April 2018

UPDATE: The historic ‘Mint House’ in Pevensey is to go to auction. The auction follows a number of unsuccessful attempts to sell the property. Of course the possibility of a philanthropic purchase would be beyond the wildest dreams of the community—Bay Life 15 April, 2018

What is to become of the historic ‘Mint House’? Who will bid to buy the property? Whatever happens next, Pevensey will be watching

Estate agents have come and gone, without success. At one point last year hopes were raised as a sale appeared to be near completion. A ‘sold subject to contract’ strap was added to the board, but disappeared soon afterwards.

In addition, stories swirled around Pevensey that the sale had gone through.

One windy day Bay Life had a phone call, suggesting that the sale had gone through because the board was down. On closer scrutiny, what became clear was that the board had blown over in the wind and was sitting horizontal behind the property wall.

Five days ago, Lot 135 appeared on the Clive Emson auction web platform., with a description of a SUBSTANTIAL HISTORICAL PROPERTY WITH DEVELOPMENT POTENTIAL The guide price is £500,000 – £600,000.

Pictures from inside the property show something of the interesting interiors. Outside, at the back, the neglect becomes clear with the height of the weeds.

The property occupies a historic place in the story of Pevensey.

In The Ghosts of Pevensey castle, Elizabeth Wright says, “one of the bloodiest ghost tales in this area must be about the Murders at the Mint House. It was built in 1342, on the site of the original Pevensey Mint, right opposite the castle.

“One occupant was Thomas Dight, who, in 1586, came to Sussex, accompanied by his mistress, for a hunting holiday. When he unexpectedly returned from a day out he found his mistress in bed with another man.

“He commanded his servants to tie up the pair”. The gruesome details that follow can be googled. How much of the story is true remains, like many legends that are associated with Pevensey, the subject of speculation.

A placard on the outside of the house states that it was the former residence of Andrew Borde, Court Physician to Henry VIII, and was once occupied by Edward VI. The South East History forum takes a somewhat different view, suggesting, “although Andrew Borde did own it, there is no record of Andrew Borde (Merry Andrew) ever staying at the Mint House or that it ever was a mint house. Some very creative history to increase visitor numbers perhaps?”

Somewhere between fact and fiction lies the historical nature of the property.

Clive Emson particulars include, “a unique opportunity to acquire this substantial property situated within the historic village of Pevensey and directly adjacent to Pevensey castle.

“Known as the Old Mint House the property dates back to circa 1342 AD and occupies the site of the minting chamber which now forms part of this property.

“The property, which would now benefit from some restoration work, is considered ideal for conversion into either a single residential dwelling or possibly two or three residences, subject to the necessary consents being obtainable. Interested applicants are advised to make their own enquiries with the Local Planning Authority”.

“To the rear of the site you will find later additions to the building including a Victorian Orangery and large warehouse/showrooms constructed by the current owner. There is also a large detached garage/workshop outside of the property with vehicular access to Pevensey High Street.

The recent regeneration of Pevensey as an economically viable entity can be dated from when the Priory Court Hotel and Restaurant was renovated by the current owners. Their injection of inspired hope, significant commitment, love for the property, and vision, was noted at the time.

In a look at what had been done at Priory Court (14 October 2017), we said “here we republish part of an article we first published on 3 February 2015, with a special message update to Peter and Vicky. co-owners of the Priory Court Hotel, in tribute to their continuing vision. Bay Life says that with the Priory Court Hotel Pevensey, and the work done in 2013, that this is where the great Pevensey regeneration story began”. The  review of their dedication and work can be read here.

The seven year campaign by local people to see the Castle Cottage Tea Rom restored to good fortune, has also paid dividends. English Heritage was eventually dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century by a local community campaign that insisted the precious building was economically viable.

The Castle Cottage Tea Room debacle went on and on. After the English Heritage’ inspired ‘ penthouse apartment idea emerged in correspondence with the local parish council, the idea was dropped in favour of a plan to offer the lease to local business bidders.

The point at which one of the viable business plans ‘was lost’ by English Heritage, sent in by a very able local entrepreneur, people began to wonder.whether the organisation that owns the castle and the adjoining tea room, was at all serious.

The eventual lease to a very able new owner two years ago, has seen the success for the Tea Room emerge. The work done by the owner was worthy of note. She served ‘tea as it used to be’ and made the enterprise a success. The recent legacy inherited by new owners is building on this success.

What took English Heritage so long to see viability with the historic location remains something of a mystery.

Pevensey, until recently, seems to have enjoyed something of a forgotten history in the affairs of the country.

Most of the money made available by English Heritage, with regard to the story of the arrival of the Normans, goes to Battle and the Abbey.

Until recently Pevensey was relegated to something of a footnote in the proceedings of the story about the arrival of the Normans. This is somewhat ironic given that one the panels of the Bayeux Tapestry says “Ad Pevensae”.

Difficult to think of a better billboard to promote our fortunes than a thousand year old strapline set on a World Heritage icon.

The arrival of the Bayeux Tapestry in this country, planned for 2022, will give us an opportunity to make the case that our local history should be included in the major year long event pageant which will no doubt follow from the loan of the Tapestry, a temporary gift made from the people of France.

The figure of £20 milion has been mooted in the mainstream press to support the profiling of the Bayeuux Tapestry whilst on loan to this country. There is a very good argument to be put that little Pevensey, with our famous panel, should not left out of the discussion about how this significant sum is to be spent in this country.

The revered historian Michael Wood, on coming to Pevensey to launch his seminal work on BBC2, The Great British Story a People’s History (2010) began the series with these words ‘this is where it all began’.

At the time he would have been hard pressed to find somewhere remotely resembling a tea room in the High Street.

The prospect of seeing the Mint House brought back to economic life within the small nexus of businesses in the village, seems, from the particulars offered, to be non-existent.

In some ways the profile of the village is something of a jigsaw.

The Priory Court renovation registered so much with the village. Adjacent to the castle, with the deluxe accommodation, restaurant, tea room and all the facilities for weddings, meetings, the dedication and profiling has been transformative.

The community feel of the Royal Oak and Castle, built up over five years so lovingly by the previous owners, has been inherited by new owners.

The Pevensey Court House and Museum is a little gem as part of the visit to Pevensey. A walk down the Elizabethan Higth Street after visiting the 2,000 years of the castle with the history, is something of a magical experience. This is not a film set. The is real life Pevensey.

The fact is that this unique part of the history of the country, which as Michael Wood says, ‘is the place where it all began’ is all within walking distance of a postage stamped area. This makes the experience exquisite.

The location is ripe for promotion of the kind that would reach an audience to include many countries.

Visitors from across Europe and further afield, who consider coming by the coachload to Sussex to experience something of the 1066 story, are not visible enough in the village.

So many visitors and coaches, perhaps understandably, are just routed to Battle and the Abbey. What we have in Pevensey though is not just the start of the story, but something in essence that is a tiny snapshot of part of the 1,000 year legacy of the The Great British Story.

The High Street in Pevensey is a unique living timeline.

Perhaps the fact is that we have simply failed to see the potential value of what we have as a visitor experience, particularly in the 21st century.

There are now so many useful tools online that could project the experience to people that might want to come to Pevensey.

If only visitors knew what we had to offer. The profiling of Pevensey to a wider audience is very poor indeed.

With the tradition of the historic St. Nicolas church round the corner, recently celebrating 800 years history, and the only building in the community still in continuous use, we have a heritage that is precious. Nikolaus Pevsner was here to review the church in the early sixties.

There is an argument to be put that the promotion of Pevensey needs to move into the 21st century.

A web platform that is to a national standard to meet the requirements of promoting Pevensey, might see an opportunity to increase the footfall significantly.

The sight of the Mint House in the current circumstance, marks a black spot in the state of the affairs of the village, which has improved so much in recent years.

A sympathetic conversion of the property, that protects the Grade 2 Listed status will do nothing to return the Mint House to a rightful place in the historic village

But as one resident put things to us today, “at least this will be better than the eyesore that we see” .

The building has not been in use for many years. Documents that accompany the sale, offered by owners, suggest that this was seven years ago.

Documents suggest that the building has been part of economic activity in the village since 1920.

The one last missing piece of the jigsaw in Pevensey, when everything around the building has been restored to economic life, is the ‘Mint House’.

The property may never have been a mint house at all, but with a history stretching back to 1342, the loss of the building in the form that we know and love, will be a blow to the community .

Having said that, if there is indeed a characterful development, we could see businesses locally benefit in some way. The Merry Boardedupness has been of no historic value to anyone.

In our dreams, a part of what could clearly be a major ‘characterful’ development of the site, is given over to a small enterprise to promote historic Pevensey.

People from across Europe and beyond are drawn back to Pevensey, perhaps by an interactive vision.

In the unit for the enterprise, to be called Ad Pevensae, the story would be told. The story would add a new dimension to the profiling of Pevensey.

Two shows a day and a special matinee performance on Wednesdays. Just bench seating space for a small group of people at a time. Beautiful screen and sound for the twenty minute show, just like they have at the Towner Gallery for their exhibitions.

Told in sound and vision, the story would unfold in a small postage stamped sized area, just like our precious local environment.

The economic viability of the Mint House site can be questioned.

Given the price, at which the site has been offered, someone may be about to make a mint. Bay Life believes that the sale price could be well beyond £500,000.

This will be a complex process because the house has listed status and has a proud history stretching back to 1342.

What was shown in a previous Clive Emson auction, with the Beach Tavern site in Pevensey Bay, is that developers can not just swan into communities and do what they want.

Mr Foss who bought the site has had his own vision for a luxury three storey monstrosity squashed. The community beat him with his plans for a three storey monstrosity, because the plans were alien to the location. The planning inspectorate agreed. The community fought long and hard to see that common sense prevailed and that the plan did not go ahead.

The ‘Mint House site’ is a different matter altogether.

The listed status and historic value is part of the particulars. Anyone buying the site will be cogniscent of the circumstances. They will have to think very carefully indeed about a potential purchase.

There are some fundamentally important questions here with regard to the local economy and the history of Pevensey.

There is vitality to the regeneration of Pevensey Bay, this vitality must continue. Our precious assets must be preserved. In the case of ‘The Mint House’ a precious asset, questions of preservation and business appear to collide.

This may not necessarily be the case.

A sympathetic ‘characterful’ development should respect our history.

Anyone aiming to make a significant sum of money from their purchase of the property and site needs to know that communication with the people of Pevensey will be a necessary concomitant of the sale.

Even if you register with the Ckive Emson auction site, this particular is not detailed.

Business and history can work successfully together. Dr. Simon Thurley, the ex- Chief Executive of English Heritage loved to make this point.

The sudden burst of success with Stonehenge as a tourist attraction in the thirties, he said, came about not just because of the arrival of the motor car as a vehicle for families to visit places, but because the Shell Oil Company was behind the initial sponsorship of the site at the time, with their iconic posters.

The establishment of a small business element to the site, for the promotion of Pevensey in the 21st century, may not be such a dream after all.

Just as with the Shell Oil Company in 1934, we have an economic driver here.

Ample time.to get the show on the road.  The Bayeux Tapestry does not arrive until 2022. There is time to lobby to see that the promotion of Peveney is not forgotten during and after this proposed transaction.

If there was to be a small Ad Pevensae enterprise as part of the site development, with sound and vision, the show could begin with the words of historian Michael Wood, ‘this is where it all began’.

Of course the possibility of a philanthropic purchase would be beyond the wildest dreams of the community.

Whatever happens, Pevensey will be watching.

The auction to sell the historic ‘Mint House’ site in Pevensey is on 4 May 2018, at the Hotel Metropole in Brighton.

Simon Montgomery
editor, Bay Life