Scallop fossils have been found dating back over three million years and the shell is used symbolically in many ways. Apart from being the logo of a well-known oil company it can often be found in heraldry including Princess Diana’s coat of arms, the Spencer family crest and more recently on Prince William’s Knight of the Garter crest. The shell shape has long been considered a sign of pilgrimage too, particularly of travellers to the shrine of St James at Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
There is a small Wesleyan chapel in the town of Winchelsea, just a mile or so from Rye, overlooking Rye Bay. John Wesley, renowned Methodist preacher, used this little chapel, built in 1785, and conducted his last open air service in the town of Winchelsea in 1790. Is it a coincidence that the Methodists adopted the scallop shell, taken from John Wesley’s coat of arms, as their symbol?