Full house for Napoleonic romp


There was a full house at Rye Castle Museum last Thursday, February 13, as museum chairman Jo Kirkham welcomed renowned local historian Geoff Hutchinson for a talk on the history of south coast military defenses at the turn of the 19th century.

This rousing romp through the Napoleonic wars, with Hutchinson, a man of many voices,  embracing the character of Prime Minister William Pitt (The Younger), a man who had war thrust upon him, kept an enthusiastic audience entertained with tales of the Grand Military Canal, the 109 Martello towers that lined our coastline, and Pitt’s ability to consume inordinate quantities of port wine, a taste he acquired from an early age, apparently.

Touching upon every aspect of the Martello towers history, from their conception in Corsica to their current-day ruination, museum state or holiday home status, and the wisdom, or lack of, in the construction of the Military Canal, Hutchinson both educated and entertained his audience, while affecting an almost visceral empathy for Pitt, a man castigated by many for his military follies, but a Prime Minister who rose to the occasion when his country was challenged by the might of Napoleon.

Image Credits: Chris Lawson .

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