Ruin of St Leonards church at Winchelsea, Sussex, 1794
Artist: H, T
Medium: Pencil and ink on paper
Winchelsea was one of the original Cinque Ports, which had particular strategic and military responsibility before the establishment of the Royal Navy. It was planned by Edward I as a fortified trading town, with wide streets, a regular layout and three large churches - including St Leonard's. As the harbour silted up, however, Winchelsea lost much of its usefulness. By the 18th century it was heavily in decline. Writing in 1725, Daniel Defoe commented that Winchelsea was "rather the skeleton of an ancient city, than a real town". Of the original churches, St Giles' and St Leonard's were demolished, and only St Thomas' remains.