Friday, 30 August 2013


Today we drove to Rye a small town in East Sussex, which stands approximately two miles from the open sea and is at the confluence of three rivers: the Rother, the Tillingham and the Brede. In medieval times, however, as an important member of the Cinque Ports confederation, it was at the head of an embayment of the English Channel and almost entirely surrounded by the sea. During its history its association with the sea has included providing ships for the service of the King in time of war, and being involved with smuggling gangs of the 18th and 19th centuries such as the notorious Hawkhurst Gang who used its inns such as The Mermaid Inn and The Old Bell Inn, connected by secret passage way.

Rye is a quiet gem, full of hidden history along it's cobblestone streets. Rye is small, quaint, and very walkable. The cobbled Mermaid Street, itself lined with Elizabethan houses and inns, is often called "the prettiest street in England". Once a remote, fortified medieval hill town, Rye has become a favoured location for those wishing to escape city and urban sprawl. In essence it is still the medieval hill town that was rebuilt after the French burnt Rye down in 1377.
Mermaid Street

Oak Coner Rebuilt 1490

Hartshorn House the Old Hospital 15th century

Mermaid Inn Rebuilt 1420

Water Cistern 1735 for town water supply

Crowning the hill is the beautiful Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin, built originally in the C12th by the Abbey of Fecamp in northern France to whom this part of the south coast belonged at that time. An image of it on the Great Seal of Rye shows a Church with tall graceful spires standing in an un-walled town. Badly damaged in the French raid, it was re-built with its present square tower but retained many of its original Norman features.

St Mary's Church
The "Landgate" (the only surviving one of four original fortified entrances to Rye) dates from 1329 in the early years of the reign of King Edward III. It is still the only vehicular route into the medieval centre of Rye and is suitable only for light vehicles.
Landgate 1329

We went to a Penny Arcade which had the original fun parlour machines for which you needed the pennies from pre 1960's to operate them, it was great fun seeing the moving pictures machine, having our fortune told and even an amazing early model of a poker machine

We then drove to Rye Harbour and went for a walk out to the channel entrance and we could see Dungeness Nuclear Power Plant at the end of the beach in the distance past the wind generator turbines. It is an advanced gas cooled reactor power station consisting of two 615 MW reactors, which began operations in 1983 and 1985 respectively. The first commercial scale AGR power station to be constructed, the design being based on the much smaller Windscale AGR prototype; the WAGR. The £89 million contract was awarded in August 1965 to Atomic Power Construction.

We could not believe the number of holiday makers using this beach for their day in the sun and swimming in the ocean waters with the reactor just a short walk up the beach we don't think we would be so keen to do so. Several people recommended the area as a beautiful place for a walk etc which is how we found it, so the people of the UK seem to be very comfortable with the plant being there.

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