1927 Tour 006

Bodiam Castle, moated and ruined, is approached by a left turning from the main road, two miles past Hawkhurst.  Winding lanes lead over the River Rother, through Ewhurst, to Northiam, a delectable spot possessing the old mansion of Brickwall, Great Dixter, Strawberry Hole, and Queen Elizabeth’s Oak, under which her Majesty rested and feasted, and changed her shoes in 1573.  It is but a few miles from Rye.  This little town is a place apart.  Obviously it has been “found” – everything is so well done, and art blossoms strongly on casement curtains – but even so, it has not been spoiled.  Not elsewhere in England is there to be seen anything better than Rye’s cobbled streets and byways, or its assemblage of old walls and bright roofs, throned on a sandstone bluff rising abruptly from a level plain.  They tell of the port’s historic days, when its shipping, and smugglers too, were known far and wide.  Then catastrophe came; the sea retired; the port was no more.  Now only a stretch of sea visible from the view-points between the Land Gate, the Ypres Tower, and Watchbell Street, and it breaks on the golden sands beyond Rye Harbour.  Winchelsea, little more than two miles distant, is both like and unlike Rye.  It is high on a rock, is entirely of the past, and the sea no longer washes its eastern cliff.  But its greener, more sylvan, than its sister town.  The spirit of the Middle Ages seems to have triumphed over the forces of decay, abiding still where stones have fallen.  Guarded by mediaeval gateways, and partly encircled by ruined town walls, this phantom of a great past peacefully continues, beautiful in its aloofness, a place of lovely buildings set among flowers and trees.

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