"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 30, 2017 by Sioux under General
2 Comments

 

An early rise again as my sister wanted to take me to Hythe, but first was Rye harbour for the sunrise. While trying to take a photo of the seagulls, I asked my sister to turf a pebble over at them so I could catch them flying off, but she slipped off the edge of the walkway and the only thing that went flying was herself and her cell phone. With bruised and battered knees, a smashed cell phone and no photo of flying seagulls, we took to the open road, stopping off at a few places along the way.

We stopped in Old Romney at St Clements Church which is virtually unrestored from the original. Constructed in the 12th century, it one of the oldest churches in Kent, although there is evidence of another structure on the site dating back to the 8th century. The altar rails are early 18th century. St Clements was built on a mound to protect it from flood waters; and is one of the most visited of the Marsh churches. 

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From there we headed to St Mary in the Marsh, a small village, surrounded by the stark beauty of marshes and open farmland landscapes, near New Romney, in one of Romney Marsh’s least populated areas.

 

The village consists of a few homes, an Inn and a church, “St Mary the Virgin”. Some of the church’s oldest parts date back to about 1133 AD. The window ledges were all adorned with wheat, fruits and vegetables for the harvest festival. 

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Hythe is a small coastal market town on the                                                  edge of Romney Marsh. The word Hythe or Hithe is an Old Engish word meaning Haven or Landing Place. The town boasts Medieval and Georgian buildings, as well as a Saxon/Norman church and was once defended by two castles. As an important Cinque Port, Hythe once possessed a bustling harbour which, over the past three hundred years, has now disappeared due to silting. Hythe was once the central Cinque Port, between Hastings and New Romney to the west and Dover and Sandwich to the east. A French fleet apparently approached Hythe in 1293 and landed 200 men, but “the townsmen came upon them and slew every one of them: upon which the rest of the fleet hoisted sail and made no further attempt”. In 1348 the black death afflicted Hythe, and in 1400 the plague further reduced the population. 

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We strolled along the embankments of the Royal Military Canal,

which is a canal the stretches for 45km between Seabrook near

Folkestone and Cliff End near Hastings, following the old cliff line

bordering Romney Marsh, and was constructed as a defensible

barrier to ensure that an invading French force could not use the

Romney Marsh as a bridgehead. Construction started late in 1804

but by May 1805 only 9.5km’s had been completed. A joint

operation between civilians and the army personnel saw the

canal completed in April 1809.

 

During the early stages of World War II, when a German invasion

 was looking likely, the canal was fortified with concrete pillboxes.

 The canal is now an important environmental site and is used to

 manage water levels on Romney Marsh and Walland Marsh. It is

 home to many varieties of fish and other wildlife, including

 kingfishers, dragonflies and marsh frogs. It is also the third longest defensive monument in the British Isles after Hadrian’s Wall and  Offa’s Dyke. Nowadays, the edges of the canal banks are lined with upmarket houses and apartments. 

Hythe war memorial garden beside The Royal Military Canal footpath. 

A modern sculpture of soldiers

of Royal Staff Corps at Hythe, commemorating the construction of the canal.

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The ‘Moses’ drinking fountain was donated to the city, in 1886, by the Mayor of the time. The cast iron frame is in the form of a stylized shield with curved and winged edges. The top part of the shield, in the form of an ogee arch, contains a sculpture of winged cherubs resting upon clouds. Beneath the cherub is a legend, He Opened The Rock And / The Waters Gushed Out / They Ran In The Dry Places / Like A River / Psalm CV 41.   Each side of the arch is decorated with reeds and foliage. On the left side is a robed male figure with long beard standing contrapposto. In his left hand is a rod resting on the cusp of the arch. This is a depiction of Moses striking the rock to release gushing water. On the right of the drinking well is the robed figure of a woman offering a basin of water to a naked child. A recessed trough at ground level offered overflow water to dogs and small animals. In 1965 public awareness of water related diseases prompted the removal of the metal cup by the Health Department and the supply of water being withdrawn. 

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The parish church of St Leonards in Hythe stands on top of a steep hill overlooking the town. Few traces remain of the original early Norman church, built about 1090. When the chancel floor was raised a vaulted passageway was found, which was used for centuries as an ossuary or bone-house. An immense collection of neatly stacked medieval skulls and bones was found, which had been disinterred from time to time when fresh graves were dug. In 1910, the heap was carefully re-stacked after a thorough scientific examination had been made. The thigh bones numbered about 8,000, and the skulls 590. From bits of pottery, broken sandals and wooden trenchers found at the bottom of the pile, it was ascertained that the bones dated back to the 14th and 15th century. Unfortunately the crypts had been closed for the day by the time we got there.

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Near the beach in Hythe stands one of the few remaining Martello Towers, which were built along the coast of Kent and East Sussex, between 1805 and 1808 to guard against invasion by Napoleon. The towers never actually saw active service as Napoleon’s planned invasion came to nothing after the Battle of Trafalgar defeat for the French Fleet which forced Napoleon to look elsewhere for conquest. Today only around 26 of the original 74 towers still stand as many were built on shingle beaches and have been claimed by the sea. Others were demolished to make way for modern developments, and yet more have been restored and converted into residences. 

As the day drew to a close we headed down the hill from the church to where the car was parked, and drove back to the hotel, singing along to John Denver.

 

A thoroughly enjoyable weekend, many miles covered and lots of discoveries made! The type of weekend that treasured memories are made of. 

 

2 responses to “Birthday fun #5 – Road trip! Here we come…. ready or not!”

  1. Derrick Baney says:

    Good stuff as usual

  2. Chez says:

    Thoroughly enjoy reading all the info you put with pictures taken, has your sister forgiven you yet for the “flight of seagul pic”? LOL!

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