The Sussex Coast - online book

A Literary & Historical travel guide to the Sussex Coast

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382                   THE SUSSEX COAST
clerk for the entry two pence." The business of the port was to some extent communal, it was desired rather to promote the general prosperity of the town than large individual fortunes, and there was something to be said for the view.
" If any merchant, neighbour or stranger, bring any merchandize to sell unto the town of Rye, all the freemen of the said town, which be present 0 unto the buying of the said merchandize shall have part in it if they will claim part; and so shall the freemen that be absent have part in case that any man that is present in the buying of the same do claim part for any freeman that is absent; and the said merchandize shall be evenly divided according, both in gains and in loss." The Customal ends with the often-quoted prayer—
"God save Englond and the Towne of Rye."
The real walls of Rye were those of her ships, and the Cinque Port tactics of attacking in a storm, keeping to windward and ramming when the opportunity offered, made their navies dreaded by their foes. Something was first done for the fortification of the port when during the twelfth century the Ypres Tower was erected near the top of the cliffs on the south side of the town, probably to serve as a sort of citadel in case of attack. It is a square building of two stories, a large round turret at each angle, one containing a stair; and in the immensely thick rubble walls remain some original pointed doors and little square-headed windows. On the west side are later brackets for machicolations. The often-re­peated story that it was built by William of Ypres, Earl of Kent, Stephen's captain of mercenaries, has been refuted by H. Sands, and it almost
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