Ryesingers have been performing in the Carol Service at East Guldeford Church on the Sunday before Christmas for over thirty years. Many local people come to fill this lovely building to overflowing for the occasion.
This beautiful church is the only ‘Marsh’ Church in Sussex, and was built in 1505 on land reclaimed from the sea by Sir Richard Guldeford. He died the following year, whilst on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, aged 51.
He had begun to build walls to keep the sea out in 1478, and these embankments can still be seen. His son, Sir Edward Guldeford, a great friend of Henry VIII, continued this process of inning.
East Guldeford, (so called to distinguish it from Guildford further west), was connected to Playden – to the bottom of Saltcote Street (now New England Lane) by a ferry, which crossed the wide tidal estuary.
Sir Richard came from a very influential, wealthy family and received many honours from Henry VII, after he came to the throne in 1485. He was made Sheriff of Kent in 1493 and, in 1495, the Manor of Iham (containing Winchelsea) was given to him, as long as he built a blockhouse on the (then) shore. The lower part of the central tower of Camber Castle is believed to be this construction.
Richard received a faculty to build a church at his own expense in 1499. He was created a Knight of the Garter in 1500,and his stall can still be seen in St George’s Chapel, Windsor. The Bishop of Chichester consecrated this unusual, rare brick Church, in 1505.
The church has a shield painted with the arms of Sir Richard on one side, and lovely wall paintings of angels high up around the Chancel walls. It also has a rare two-decker pulpit and box pews – but no electricity and so it looks wonderful with many candles illuminating the proceedings.
“Rye’s Own” January 2004
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