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Visiting the Old Mint House, Pevensey, England: historic building with former, Royal associations
Delving futher and further into the past
Said to date from c.1342, the Old Mint House is known to have 16th century elements.
Some history and features
The property is reckoned to have some direct or indirect Royal associations. King Edward VI is recorded as having stayed at the House; the young Edward reigned from 1547 until 1553, a relatively short period, but one which was pivotal in relation to the development of religious questions and understanding in the kingdom.
Among the entourage of King Henry VIII, the Court Physician was Andrew Borde. He was a 16th century owner of Pevensey's Old Mint House. It is thus significant perhaps that King Henry VIII's son and successor, King Edward VI, was later to stay at the House, according to records.
Various features of the building are listed by English Heritage. Among these is its strikingly memorable red, tile-hung upper storey (1). A large chimney breast is prominent toward the west end of the House. While the interior of the House has wall paintings, it is useful to bear in mind that the building is a commercial property used by an antique furniture business, rather than a museum.
Not surprisingly, a house so old has acquired a reputation for a resident ghost. In one room, known as the Haunted Chamber, a woman in Elizabethan dress is supposed to have been spotted by a child; the room is said to have been the venue of the murder of a woman in 1586.
The earlier history of the building is in some ways more difficult to quantify. The name of the building suggests a rôle in issuing coinage. There is little historical evidence of this having been carried out in the actual, existing structure said to date from circa 1342. However, there are definite records of coins being minted at approximately the site of the current building in the previous two centuries. Coins reckoned to have been minted here are on display in the British Museum, London. Thus, the name Old Mint House is certainly accurate to the site, if not strictly to the existing edifice.
Interestingly, the status of mints down the centuries in England underwent considerable development, being tied to the history of the country. During the English Civil War, in the 17th century, for example, New Inn Hall, Oxford (the former buildings of which now belong to St Peter's College) was used as a mint for the Royalist cause, without the sanction of Parliament. Thus is has come about by dint of sheer historical experience that today the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is also a Member of Parliament and thus responsible to the House of Commons, is also ex officio 'Prime Warden and Master Worker of the Royal Mint'. This combining of rôles, in relation to authority over the country's money, acts as a safeguard against any financial disruption which might hypothetically range representatives of the Crown against the rule of Parliament.
The Old Mint House is situated in the High Street, Pevensey, in England's East Sussex, close to the village of Pevensey's entrance to its Castle.
July 4, 2012
(1) One historical account tells of a knight, Sir Harry Ralt, who is recorded as having fallen to his death from a window of the upper storey in 1607.
Also worth seeing
In Pevensey itself, its Roman and Norman castle is undoubtedly the village's most famous piece of architectural and historical heritage. Included among other interesting old buildings is the parish church and a former courthouse.
In Westham village is a parish church dating from 1086.
How to get there: United Airlines flies to London Heathrow Airport, where car rental is available. (Distance from London Heathrow to Pevensey : approx. 146 kilometres.) For access by road, take M25/M23/A23/A27. There are rail links to Pevensey and Westham railroad station from London Victoria station. Some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
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