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The Medieval Town Of Rye.Sussex.England.

4047 Views 26 Replies 20 Participants Last post by  dnobsemajdnob
Founded by the Saxons, its name meaning 'island', Rye was originally surrounded by the sea and today remains almost entirely encircled by three rivers; its isolated position enhancing its appeal. Though one can be easily deceived by the town's relaxed ambience, Rye has had a dramatic history. In its early role as one of the Cinque Ports, an ancient body set up to defend England against the threat of invasion, it maintained a high profile and at the height of its renown in the 13th & 14th centuries contributed 5 ships to the King's fleet. In 1377 a French attack depleted much of Rye's resources and over the next few centuries the town's fortunes fluctuated, largely affected by the forces of nature as the sea began to recede and the relentless silting of the estuary changed the nature of the harbour. Notwithstanding this, Rye was still a trading port of importance and in the 19th century was the centre of the ship-building industry;warships for the Crimea set sail from here. In the present, the maritime connection continues, as Rye still derives income from boat-building.

Mermaid Inn (Pic 8 23), Rye's largest medieval building, looms as imposingly as ever. In its heyday this tavern was the watering-hole for many a smuggler, its most infamous revellers being the bloodthirsty Hawkhurst gang reviled as 'that nest of vermin' who terrorised the area in the mid 18th century.
Smuggling and Rye are inextricably linked. As an important Cinque Port Rye smugglers were treated with leniency; a contributing factor being the covert involvement of many corrupt town officials who benefited from the affordable goods these men provided. Russell Thorndike based his well known Dr Syn books in the Rye area.

Many other literary figures found inspiration here. Rumer Godden and E F Benson (the author of the Mapp & Lucia books) both resided here whilst Renaissance playwright John Fletcher was born in Rye in 1579. Perhaps the town's most famous inhabitant was the novelist Henry James who fell in love with Rye at first sight and made his home in Lamb House (Pic 10), tucked away just off Mermaid St. Between 1897-1914 James wrote here, often dictating copy in the garden room that was sadly destroyed by a bomb in World War II. Even in his final years when ill health forced a move to London, he long cherished the memory of the 'blessed, the invaluable refuge of Lamb House.' Built in 1721 by James Lamb, whose descendants held the office of mayor for well over a century, this house witnessed two events of importance in its early years. In 1726 George I, blown ashore on nearby Camber Sands made his way to the mayor's house and was duly recruited as godfather to Lamb's child, born that very night. On a darker note, sixteen years later Lamb became the centre of Rye's most notorious murder case. Nurturing a long held grievance one night butcher John Breads lying in wait in the churchyard poinced on his unwary victim (the mayor as he supposed) only to later discover that it was Allan Grebell, Lamb's brother-in-law that he'd murdered, duped by the red cloak of office that Grebell had been loaned that night.Breads unfathomably proclaimed his guilt in the streets, screeching " butchers should kill lambs" for all the world to hear. Hanged for his crime, remains of his skull are still on display in the town hall. Today Lamb House has gentler associations. Acquired by the National Trust in 1948 it is a literary shrine (open Wed/Sat only) adorned not only by portraits of James but a whole host of other distinguished visitors of the period, including Ford Madox Ford, Conrad and Kipling.































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OMG :shocked: I was absolutely thrilled to see the title of this thread.. Rye was the inspiration for the fictional town of "Tilling", which is the setting for a series of books written in the 1920's under the banner "Mapp and Lucia", by E. F. Benson (as you noted), which are amongst my most cherished books of all time... You deserve several internet beers for putting together this superb thread! Miss Mapp and Lucia herself would approve! :cheers::cheers::cheers:
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Excellent thread!

The town reminds me in some ways of my favourite small town in the UK, Clovelly (Dorset).
What lovely pictures of Rye!! They are so clear. We love Rye too. There are many unspoilt beautiful villages in the neighbourhood.
WOW!!! It's incredibly beautiful and charming and like a fairy-tale. When I was in England, I realized that actually large parts of the country are like this. That's what I loved about it.
Thank you people.:cheers1:
Wow lovely pictures, El Greco! It's ncie to know there are still plenty of places like this in the UK, I'd certainly like to visit Rye now - looks like a town of great character, thanks for showing them.
It's beautiful! :) Disappointing to see some overhead lines to ruin the pure beauty of that town.
Ahhh...quaint England. How I forget this exists when I see so many pics of London and other very urbanized centers in this site.
Well thank you very much guys.
You can expect to see more threads about Englands small towns in the not too distant future.
Well thank you very much guys.
You can expect to see more threads about Englands small towns in the not too distant future.
Great! As much as I love looking at urban photos I also like to look at villages, castles, and such. So I look forward to any England small town threads you put up.

Heck, I had been thinking of starting a general open Mid evil/Renaissance Europe thread to post the older villages, towns, and the historic parts of various European cities. This thread anyone could post as many pictures on any place that fits in the theme of the thread. Would people be interested?
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