Rye, England: Introduction

September 19-20, 2016

I had read that Rye was the most preserved Medieval town in England, so I was sure it would make for a great photography destination on a solo side-trip from London.

Rye is an ancient small town in the county of East Sussex, England, which stands two miles from the open sea and sits at the joining of three rivers: the Rother, the Tillingham and the Brede. Rye’s history can be traced back to the 11th century when it was almost totally surrounded by water. The sea has retreated and now lies two miles from the town, and sheep graze where the waves once broke on the beach. In the 13th century, Rye became one of the Cinque Ports, meaning it was one of the towns along the English coast that provided safe harbour in exchange for ships and men to sail on them. Cinque Ports were granted freedom from taxes and custom duties. It also has a history of being a base for smugglers during the 18th century, and there still exists to this day many secret tunnels, vaults and underground passages.

This Rye travel journal will be structured slightly different from the usual “Day 1”, “Day 2” approach of my other travel journals. I only stayed one night – September 19, 2016 – in this beautiful, peaceful, ancient town, so I will present the pages by content rather than chronology.

Here’s a Rye poem to kick things off:

Rye is like an old
Beautifully jeweled brooch
Worn at South-England’s throat,
As land gives way to Channel:
The Tillingham mates with the Brede
And both mix in the Rother
The sweet and the salt waters,
Below Watchbell Street and under
The eyes of Ypres Tower,
Last dry land or first island,
A place between past and future,
A historic present to speak of
In a language of salty silence
That is sweet on every tongue.

Patric Dickinson, Poems From Rye

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