...... One of the famous group of Cinque Ports called Rye.
The actual group of Cinque Ports ('five ports' in French)is an historical series of coastal towns situated in Kent and Sussex at a point closest to the French coast. It was originally formed for military and trade purposes. Today, the reason is for more of a ceremonial purpose.
The five ports consist of Hastings, New Romney, Hythe, Dover and Sandwich. So where does a town like Rye feature? The five ports were supported by the ancient towns of Rye and Winchelsea whose local councils traditionally maintained defence contingents for the realm of England. Apart from the five ports and the two towns mentioned there were other towns and villages who supported the federation too.
A Royal Charter of 1155 established the ports to maintain ships ready for the Crown in case of need. In return the towns received favours such as a certain exemption from taxes and tolls. In essence the authorities would turn a blind eye to ships and sailors from these ports. Inevitably this led to smuggling which became a major industry!
Over time these older ports lost their significance as a body called the Royal Navy was formed. Advances in techniques for ship building developed such cities such as Bristol and Liverpool. A decline furthered with the development of a railway system across the UK as well as the establishment of better overseas trade in the 18th century.
King Edward I granted the citizens of the Cinque Ports special privileges, including the right to bring goods into the country without paying import duties; in return the Ports would supply him with men and ships in time of war. The associated ports, known as 'limbs', were given the same privileges.
During their heyday the Ports played a major part in ship building and repair, fishing, piloting, off shore rescue and sometimes even 'wrecking'. They continued to play a large part in the activities of the local community until the reign of Queen Elizabeth I when the Cinque Ports had effectively ceased to be of any real significance, and were absorbed into the general administration of the Realm.
Today there is an official Cinque Port site which will also include a map for easy reference.
So, over the weekend we went for drive and ended up at the historic town of Rye!
Once we had parked the car in the only supermarket car park we took a stroll through history. First of all we found the church beside the Town Hall. On nearing the church we overheard some orchestral music! In fact there was rehearsal for a recital that evening with a full orchestra and choir taking part.
I did want to show you the beautiful stained glass windows but because the sun was shining through, the effect was lost! However before entering the church I looked up to find the clock tower with this saying inscribed: 'For our time is a very shadow that passeth away'. Aren't they wonderful words?
Once we came out into the sunshine again we turned to our right to find a group of people congregating. On closer inspection we then notice, or rather heard, the Town Cryer shouting at the top of his voice... Oh Yay, Oh Yay etc.... in fact he was announcing that on this very day at the Town Hall the following two people had taken their vows in marriage. Not only did he have that bellowing voice, uniform but also a loud claning bell!
And so, we continued our walk finding small winding lanes and original shop frontages..
Here is a typical house of the period... I did have to dodge the cars. That was the only down side to this town. It would have been so much easier had the town incorporated a pedestrian only system.
Having done the tour of the town we decided to return to the car park but not before we had walked through the town gate and its inscription. Here is one side with the inscription and the other side showing the clock. Again, these pictures were taken with the camera pointing up since I did not want to see pictures including modern cars which somehow would seem to remove the historical feel.
The town was indeed very busy with tourists who had come by the coach load and it was fascinating to listen to the hub bub of the different languages. I wonder what the original members of the Rye community would think of it all?
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