Listen to the raging of the sea…

Historical non-fiction writer and member of the Open University Poets Society, David EP Dennis, re-imagines the terrible loss of life when Old Winchelsea was taken by the sea in 1287…


to the raging of the sea at night 

far off grey breakers strike the rocks 

cogs tussle; pull their anchor ropes 

while gulls sit silent on dark waves 

rising in the swells 

till morning comes. I cannot  


nor Alard nor Stephen Crabbe 

their port home lights are plainly shining through 

and here’s the sun’s bright glow 

on Feast of Holy Innocents 

just one more day we have, yet we don’t know 

as wind picks up, squall hail rips in 

rain breaches cloud 

drives down on roofs and crossbow tower decks 

cord rigging snaps and cracks the devil 

against the gunwales: I am on our Caenned quay 


then at midnight herald, that mountain tide roars in again 

gales shrieking, children bawl 

as fishwife mothers pull the shutters to 

and peer towards the salting sheds 

while crans and tubs are rolling on the stade 

Men shout  

steel waves lash down upon our shore 

a noise like double thunder lion’s roar 

as houses, homes and inns 

are fully rent 

and God’s seen running for the hills: 

five thousand die 

seven hundred dwellings lost 

fifty inns will ale no more 

as Winchelsea’s destroyed upon these 


shingle spills.  

Tobias Tullius from Unsplash

Published by Isabella Muir

Isabella is passionate about exploring family life from the 1930s through to the 1960s and beyond. She has published six Sussex Crime mystery novels set during the 1960s and 1970s, a standalone novel dealing with the child migrant policy of the 1950s and 60s, several novellas set during the Second World War, and two short story collections. All available in paperback from your local bookshops, or online as ebooks. Her novels are also available as audiobooks, and have been translated into Italian.

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