Notes: Located in Rye there are ample (pay) car parks around the town. The car park on Cinque Ports Street is recommended as it is in close proximity to Landgate and is backed by the City Walls.
WHAT IS THERE TO SEE?
A very small but impressive medieval tower and whilst access to the highest point of the roof is not possible there is access to the ramparts giving an impressive view over the area. The tower houses part of the Rye museum and has some interesting displays. Nearby a Martello Tower, the Landgate and short stretches of town walls are visible.
1. Following its construction during the reign of Henry VIII, the nearby Camber Castle provided protection for Rye from the sixteenth century onwards.
Built as a symbol of a prosperous and increasingly wealthy South coast town, Rye Castle and the town defences were attacked by the French on multiple occasions and repeatedly failed to provide adequate protection for the populace. Thereafter used as a prison and then a morgue it today holds the Rye Museum.
HISTORY OF RYE CASTLE
In the centuries that followed the Norman Conquest (1066) Rye became an increasingly important and prosperous maritime town with extensive links to France including joining the Cinque Ports Confederation in the late twelfth century. This prosperity also made her a target and early in the thirteenth century the town was briefly occupied by French forces who only withdrew following the naval defeat of French forces off Sandwich in 1217. Nevertheless with the loss of Normandy and further Anglo-French hostility inevitable meant South Eastern England needed defences and thus in 1249 Henry III ordered the construction of a castle at Rye.
The result was the Ypres Tower (which was initially known as the Baddings Tower after the ward in which it was situated). This was augmented in the early fourteenth century by construction of town wall to provide some protection for the property in Rye. Both the tower and the town wall failed to provide the protection the residents sought; the French attacked in 1339, 1360 and 1377 causing much damage and killing many inhabitants. Despite this latter attack, or perhaps because of the failure to provide protection, the Ypres Tower was deemed superfluous and in 1430 sold to a John de Ypres for conversion into a private home.
In 1494 it was leased back to the town and used as a prison and this arrangement was made permanent in 1518 when the tower was brought by the Rye Corporation. It retained this function until 1865 when improving prison standards meant that the tower was unsuitable for anything other than short term detention. Thereafter the Tower was reused as the Town's morgue - a role it performed until 1959.