Rye, and especially its busy sea port in medieval times, held a peculiar position on the south coast of England, where the English channel is at its narrowest, which in turn, made it vulnerable
to attack from the continent of Europe.
After the loss of France in King John’s reign, his son, King Henry III, in 1249, feared the emboldened French and ordered the Constable of the Cinque Ports, Peter de Savoy, to build strong defences to protect the town. This included the town walls and what we now call, Ypes Tower.
As one of the Cinque Ports, Rye was given certain privileges including tax concessions in exchange for
its support against the French.
In 1377 the defences proved inadequate because a French assault, left the town burnt to the ground.
After yet more extensive fortifications, the French in 1449 attacked the town again but did not
cause the scale of damage they had done previously.
During the 15th and 16th centuries the town’s defences continued to be strengthened.
By the 16th century the sea had receded making the sea going harbour unusable for shipping.
It later became a private dwelling and then a mortuary.
Today, Ypes tower it is a museum and is open to the public.
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