"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years." - Abraham Lincoln

Posted on May 27, 2017 by Sioux under General
1 Comment


Rye castle, a three story 13th Century quatrefoil plan tower (a square tower with rounded corner turrets), is located in the centre of the town overlooking the River Rother. It is also known as Ypres Tower and was built in 1249 when Henry III gave permission for it to be built as part of the defence against the frequent raids                                                                       by the French, who were warring with England at the time. The castle even housed the town’s                                                                                                mortuary but that use ceased in 1956. The tower is the last intact

                                                                                             part of the town’s wall and has been used as the town hall, prison

                                                                                             and is now a museum.

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The “Women’s Tower” was

built in the 1830’s to house

women prisoners. It is believed to be

the only women’s prison to survive unaltered from the

1800’s to date. 

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While exploring the castle, I spotted what looked like a monk praying on bended knees, in the rocks of a wall. Even the tour guide was unaware of it.

A bronze longsword, blade down, is                           affixed to the front of The Cross of Sacrifice, which is a Commonwealth war memorial designed in 1918, and is present in Commonwealth war cemeteries containing 40 or more graves.


The Cross of Sacrifice is archetypal British war memorial. There is also such a longsword memorial in front of the church, in memory of locals who died during the war.

This cage-like object is a gibbet, one of which was used to display the body of the murderer John Breads for more than 50 years, during the 1700’s.  This exhibit occupies the very cell where he was kept before he was hanged. His dead, decomposing body was wrapped in chains and displayed in a gibbet on Gibbet Marsh, to the west of Rye for 50 years. The original gibbet is kept in an attic at the Town Hall along with Breads’ skull. It is said that his other bones were stolen by old women who used them to make up a cure for rheumatism. 

Touring the castle was thirsty work, so we headed to The Ypres Castle Inn, which is known locally as ‘The Wipers’. It was originally built in 1640, and added to in Victorian times. Sufficiently sated, we continued our tramp around the town. 

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By the early 14th century, with Rye being of the most important

ports on the South Coast, it was very vulnerable to attack by

raiding French warships. In 1339 the French attacked and burnt

a number of houses in the town. It was after this in 1340 that the

                     building of The Landgate began. The two towers were built of built of stone rubble.

                     In 1377 the French again attacked and ransacked Rye, burning practically every 

                     building in the town. Of the four gates built, the Landgate is the only one still                                  standing. 

The Olde Bell inn, also known as Ye Olde Bell, is an historical inn built in 1390. It has a turbulent history and was once used for smuggling, connected by a secret tunnel to the nearby Mermaid Inn. It was used by the Hawkhurst Gang in the 1730’s and 1740’s for moving contrabrand along the tunnel from the Mermaid to a revolving cupboard in the Old Bell for a quick getaway. The terrace is adorned by an 80-year-old wysteria. 

From Rye we headed to Dungness to catch the sunset. 

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An absolutely fabulous day, and the perfect follow up to a great birthday-day! 


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One response to “Birthday fun #4 – Walkabout in Rye part 2”

  1. Pauline Smith says:

    Love the history. Can you imagine living in those days??

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