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Winchelsea Wine Victualing Commission

Part 2 Project 2014
Jennifer Bull
University of Kent, UK
Winchelsea Wine Victualing Commission developed from a consideration of the unique political and economic history of the Cinque Ports and Ancient Towns of East Sussex and Kent.

In return for the right to self-government, exemption from taxes, excise duty, legal autonomy etc., the Ports had the obligation to maintain ships for the Crown. In 1287, following the Great Storm, the Ancient Towns of Rye and (New) Winchelsea supplement the original Cinque Ports of Hastings, New Romney, Hythe, Sandwich, and Dover - already confederated by Royal Charter in 1155.

Most of their liberties were eventually removed by the Cinque Ports Acts in the nineteenth century. This project imagines these acts rescinded.

(New) Winchelsea is an Edwardian New Town built overnight on a rationalist grid to replace its predecessor destroyed in the Great Storm. In 1287 Winchelsea was already an established centre of French wine import and the town’s re-settlement led to the new town being built over an extensive network of vaulted stone cellars.

The proposal looks to today’s popular Kent wine produce which is to be stored within this incredibly sought-after medieval cellar network; the character of a cellar imparts a character to the wine, and it is then sold (without duty) in contemporary, small-scale auction houses, architecturally tailored in line with individual characteristics of one of the four different types of stored wine; Sparkling, White, Red and Fortified.

This cultural critique of the nature of the consumption of these varieties was in turn cross-correlated against two programmatic elements. The first was for the various established but different modes of auctioning, whilst the second was a series of spaces for the component functions of municipal governance for the revived Ancient Town.

The result is a series of victualing rooms; subtle insertions of auction rooms and council chambers that perch themselves above the ruins of medieval cellars. The project invites a phenomenological reading and was painstakingly developed almost entirely in third angle orthographic projection as a reference to the idea of a protective casing and too, to the constraints of Winchelsea’s original rationalize urban grid.

Jennifer Bull


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