Rye (1)


In late July R and I took a week’s holiday in Rye, a small town near the south coast of England. This was a last-minute pick for various reasons, but it turned out well.

Rye has an amazing collection of historic buildings: it got invaded by the French in the 14th century and they burned the whole place to the ground, but what got rebuilt after that is mostly still there. It’s quite a strange place and worth a visit.

Saturday: Rye

We got settled in to our holiday flat, which despite being reasonably priced was part of a 16th century building in a very convenient location on West Street (perhaps it’s discounted to make up for hitting your head on ceiling beams). Then we went out for a short walk around the town.

Doorway with pigeon and blue plastic crate, Mermaid Street.
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Mooring posts, River Tillingham.
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Some kind of control equipment, River Tillingham.
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Industrial building with reflected trees and scaffolding.
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Ypres Castle.
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Lion Street.
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Nice house; a blue plaque just out of shot says that the artist Paul Nash once lived there.
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Sunday: Camber Sands

The nearest actual seaside is a popular beach called Camber Sands, several miles southeast of the town. We walked there along public footpaths, slightly varying my planned route because one right-of-way shown on the map went across a treacherous-looking marshy area.

World War 2 pillbox beside Northpoint Sewer (which is actually a drainage ditch).
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Inland side of flood protection embankment where Northpoint Sewer joins the River Rother.
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The sewer’s path into the rather muddy river; Rye Oil refinery on opposite bank.
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Rastrum Limited’s Rye Wharf site on the opposite bank.
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Lake near Point Farm, approaching Camber Sands.
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Looking east toward Winchelsea on Camber Sands.
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We took a bus back to town.

Monday: Lamb House, Ypres Castle, and the church tower

We went to see Lamb House, a National Trust property which was occupied at various times by the famous American writer Henry James (whose books I’ve never read) and the significantly less famous English writer E. F. Benson (whose books I had also never read before this trip, although I‘ve read some since). It would have been rude not to visit, since it was about a one minute walk from our flat.

Looking down West Street (we stayed in an upper flat, above the second door in the middle).
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Mirror in Lamb House.
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Purple flower in the gardens (which are the best bit).
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Garden wall (and the house opposite).
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Wall and railing.
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Lamb House rear view.
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After that we took an only slightly longer walk to Ypres Castle, which was a town fort build to defend against the French (not very successfully).

Water tower in the churchyard (we passed it on the way).
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Stairs in castle with nice lighting.
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Small barred window.
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View downriver toward the sea (and the invading French, if present).
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Skeleton in a cell.
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Ypres Castle and gateway to Gun Garden.
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Next we climbed the church tower, which is open to visitors, although not the fat ones.

The route to the tower is surprisingly long and narrow.
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View over Rye inland.
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View east to the Little Cheyne Court wind farm on Romney Marsh.
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Church bells (on our way back down).
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Houses and shadows on the opposite site of West Street.
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We took another walk around Rye in the evening.

Tall building near River Tillingham.
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Old Borough Arms.
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Buildings and shadows on Watchbell Street.
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Methodist church.
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The Landgate, the only survivor of four gates built after the French invasion.
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Fancy sign. Apparently some clockmakers called Gill lived here!
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Sunset and moon behind the Methodist church.
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Tuesday: Winchelsea

On Tuesday we took the first of two full-day walks. It wasn’t a very long walk but given the rather un-British temperatures, I was quite grateful for that!

We first walked along paths and roads paralleling the River Rother toward the sea.

Riverside building in Rye.
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1828 sign by footpath.
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Shed roof by footpath.
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The path ran along the edge of what is now Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. At one point, ominous signs of the ‘don’t drink the water, don’t breathe the air’ variety warned that land off the path was contaminated. The signs weren’t very specific but I eventually managed to find an online reference to ‘pollutants such as oil, phenols, cadmium, arsenic and others’. (We didn’t drink the water.)

Containers piled by Rye Harbour Sewer (another drainage ditch).
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Building on Long Rake Spar Aggregates site.
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We passed through the settlement of Rye Harbour, which has a couple of pubs, a shop, and a caravan park.

Lychgate at Rye Harbour Church.
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Church mission room, Rye Harbour.
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The caravan park has a Martello tower, and you can walk around its enclosure.
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But not inside the wall.
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Our route then entered Rye Harbour Nature Reserve (another, less toxic, part of it). We first continued south to the point where the river meets the sea, then turned west along the sea for a couple of miles.

Wood sculpture (maybe); a large shed just visible in the distance.
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Drain into River Rother.
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Building in black, white, and red.
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View from inside one of two large, impressive pillboxes.
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River mouth.
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Spare chain.
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Not actually railway tracks.
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We finally reached the large shed I mentioned above, which turned out to be the Mary Stanford lifeboat house, and was related to a memorial we had seen in the graveyard of Rye Harbour church. The lifeboat was lost with all 17 crew in 1928.

Side of lifeboat house.
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End of lifeboat house.
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We turned inland along a footpath to Winchelsea, which is another old town that (like Rye) used to be a harbour and is now a few miles inland at the top of a cliff.

View back to the lifeboat house.
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Strand Gate, Winchelsea.
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The church at Winchelsea is interesting; originally huge, it was badly damaged by the various French invasions. Rather than rebuild all of it, they just kept a part.

Side of church.
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One of three tombs inside with statues on.
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More of the church (remaining part on the right).
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We also saw the small but interesting town museum, and then had rather a long wait for a bus back to Rye.

This is the first part of the Rye pictures. There will be a second part...

All images © Samuel Marshall. All rights reserved.