Pevensey was an important town and harbour in Medieval times. It has had a Court House and Goal since Tudor Times and the Court Room also served as the Town Hall. It was last used in 1886, when the borough was dissolved. It is now a very good small museum.
It is a lovely flint building dating from 1541. The entrance porch, prison cells and exercise yard were added around 1830 when the building was in urgent need of upgrading.
The court house is on the first floor and reached by an external stair. It still has the magistrates’ bench and the prisoner’s dock.
The Royal Coat of Arms are from the reign of William and Mary and were originally in St Nicholas Church. There is a lot of information about the history of Pevensey and the Norman invasion as well as the siege of Pevensey by Simon de Montfort the younger in 1264-5. This has been described as the longest recorded siege in English medieval history. There is in formation about the Royal Charter granted to the town by King John in 1207, which confirmed Pevensey’s membership of the confederation of Cinque ports. There is the seal of Pevensey dating from 1230 with the image of a sailing boat.
The robing chamber is a small room off the court room and contains the official weights and measures of the town, including the balance scales, as well as a display of corn dollies.
On the ground floor are two prisoner’s cells and the small exercise yard. Apparently there were a further six cells under the building, but they are no longer there. The cells were last used during WW2 by a captured German airman.
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit and it tied in nicely with a visit to the castle and St Nicholas Church. There is a small shop attached. It is free, but donations are appreciated!
I visited at the end of October and contacted the museum via their website to make sure it would be open, as they are dependent on willing volunteers to open up!