Sunday 27 February 2011

I have been to....Rye

Taking advantage of the half term break and the fact that my daughter was staying away at a friends for a few days; Laurel and I decided to spend a night in one of our favourite towns, Rye. The drive down took a little over an hour or so and travels along the A21 which is not a bad stretch of road when the traffic is light. The route took us pass the turn off for the Tonbridge show (today but I will not be there) and we had virtually got to Hastings before swinging left down a B road at Battle, just past Bodiam, for the 11 mile run to the ancient Cinque port of Rye. This route takes us to the rail station at Rye and we opted to part there - next to the railway station cafe called 'The Fat Controller' - although with no signs of Thomas etc....

Rye is a lovely old town - full of of small shops without a supermarket to stifle the local businesses. We stopped for a small lunch at a tearoom called Poppys and thus refuelled went for a wander. Rye is built on what can best be described as a smaller version of Ayres Rock in Australia in that it all appears to be built upwards - which is hardly surprising given that it used to be a port although the sea has long since receded. The top end of the town is very 'old English village' pretty - with lots of timber framed buildings and cobbled streets, complete with Narnia-esque street lamps.

The Ypres Tower approached from the town side.

We headed up to the Ypres tower which was built in 1249 and has over the years been used as a police station, a prison and the local mortuary. It was the only major building left standing in Rye during a major French raid in 1377. This speeded the building of the defences and so when the French tried again in 1449 they were easily held off. The town wall was allowed to fall into disrepair although some parts are still visible. Only a single gate remains - the Landgate - from this period. Ypres Tower was named after Jean d'Ypres who owned it for sometime between 1439 and 1452. It is quite small but with some great views and also has an Elizabethan walled garden added to the side . The whole place overlooks what was the coastline and just below the tower if Gun garden where some Napoleonic era artillery was mounted.

The Elizabethan Garden viewed from the battlements of the Ypres Tower.

The big thing during the 18th century here was smuggling and there are many tales associated with the exploits of these determined and ruthless men - my immediate thoughts were along the lines of 'there must be a good game here somewhere!'

After a very pleasant afternoon (which included searching for a suitable eating house for the evening meal) we to our guest house located just outside Rye in order to refresh ourselves and to prepare the evening. We headed into town and dined at a pub called the Standard which was absolutely first class in respect of the quality of food and service. Walking back to the car through the old town at night was quite eerie and evocative of days gone by - especially around the old part of the town with its cobbles and timber framed buildings.
Our guest house was an old farmhouse just outside of town on the road to Peasmarsh and it is a lovely peaceful place to stay with some fantastic views and a breakfast that will last you until the evening! Sadly I missed the Rye Scallop festival (it was the week before!) but the quality of the local food and beer was a more than adequate compensation.
Whenever I go to a piece of old England I always come over all 'English Heritage' and start thinking about the great shame that my wargaming interests do not include such things as the English Civil War, or of any of the numerous medieval conflicts or even the smuggling option - small numbers of figures and ideal for a skirmish game.
It was a lovely relaxing couple of days and although nothing tangible resulted in respect of any purchases for my hobby I nevertheless came away inspired, albeit in a small way.


Paul O'G said...

Rye? Thats only 2 hrs from my house! You came all the way to Oz and didn't stop by to say hello and sample a Man Cave Brewery beer? Gutted... :-)

Sounds like a lovely couple of days away, and you even snuck a castle in!

David Crook said...

If only, if only....

It was a great couple of days - just chilling and with some good food and scenic historical stuff to remind one of the quintessential Englishness of it all!

All the best,