Rye Castle: Talk July 8th

Rye Castle: Talk July 8th

Jo Kirkham, our Chairman, treated a packed room at the East Street Museum to an outstanding presentation on Tuesday evening, 8th July: Rye Castle: The Tale of Towers. The many layered history of what we today know as the Ypres Tower was backed by paintings, drawings and photos of the tower and surrounds from many centuries past,  some of which few if any of us had seen before. We saw houses in what is now the ‘medieval garden’, soup kitchen appendages, houses adjoining the Castle — some bombed in 1942 and now replaced with dwellings designed by Austin Blomfield, the pyramid tower roofs also destroyed in the bombing, evidence of earlier uses of the Tower as home, prison and mortuary . . . .

Much of the information made us happy we don’t live in the days when people were hung, drawn and quartered in Rye or women were burned at the stake for witchcraft or sent around the town half naked to be whipped at various locations, or condemned to pick oakum all day for the crime of stealing a loaf of bread to keep one’s children from starving. Jo and colleagues had done much research into the background of women prisoners too.

VTscreenshot5Particularly impressive were photos showing the dreadful state of the Women’s Tower before it received a Heritage Lottery Fund grant and the attention of such as directors Peter Varley and Shaun Redmond. Such a contrast! The recent transformation of both towers so that they are form a highly rated visitor attraction is something Rye can be very proud of.

It is hoped that much of what Jo showed and told us about will find its way into a booklet and even a video so that more Ryers and visitors can appreciate how rich our history is.

First posted in Past Talks, Rye Museum Story on 10th July 2014
Last updated: 29th September 2014