ROUND ABOUT RYE 71
are no squalid and mean houses. There are many tiny houses in Watchbell Street—at the end of which one gets a splendid view across the marsh to Winchelsea — and other small houses are clustered in Mermaid Street, but they are all bright and spotless, with bright windows and dazzling brass handles and bell-pulls. One feels as though all the houses in the old town were joining in a " Te Deum," and one must not for anything commit the sacrilege of taking part in any unseemly hurry or bustle lest the spell be broken, and a mysterious communion with the ghosts of the past rudely destroyed.
Watchbell Street is one of the oldest in Rye; it overhangs Watchbell Cliff, and took its name from the fact that a bell hung at the west end, which was rung in times of danger to summon the bold men of Rye to stand to the walls of their own dear town. The fighting spirit of the people still hangs about the name, and it is good to think how desperately the stout hearts of Rye fought for this cluster of time-softened and steep-roofed houses. All those scourges against which we pray—plague, pestilence and famine, battle, murder and sudden death—were endured by Rye. From its position, it was exposed to frequent attacks from the French. They burnt it in 1360,