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It’s easy to imagine
Their dark illicit trade.
All the deals that were made
On stormy winter nights
When the glow of palest moonlight
Could never expose
Their contraband of forbidden delights.

The kegs of brandy
The lace and tea, their destiny -
To be brought from France,
O’er the cold grey sea,
And across the Marsh in days gone by,
To Watchbell Street and Trader’s Passage
And through to the Mermaid Inn at Rye,
Then on to Winchelsea.

The squire and the sexton,
The clerk - even the parson
All stood to gain from the moonlit trade,
From the secret deals they made.
All stood to gain from the contraband,
Hidden in the belfry,
Or kept in the vestry.
Or down in the vaults
Of the church of St. George’s.

The kegs of brandy
The tobacco and tea,
All these luxuries
To be brought from France,
On a cold winter’s night, across the sea.
Then o’er the Marsh, in days gone by,
To East Street, to Market Street,
Through to the Flushing Inn at Rye,
Then on to Winchelsea.

Mermaid St.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click to Enlarge

Trader's Passage, Rye

Click to Enlarge

The people of the Marsh have always had a spirit of independence and lawlessness, giving them a great enthusiasm for smuggling. Only the local people could find their way through the mists along the waterways, to hide the smuggled goods in the churches on the Marsh or at coastal towns near by - Hastings, Rye and Winchelsea.

© Helen Lyon 2000
All Rights Reserved