Lockdown in Rye has got compensations as we are more than fortunate to be in easy distance of so many wonderful walks without needing to drive anywhere.
Most footpaths are well marked around Rye, and many signs recently refurbished or replaced. Rother District Council provides a good mapping service to stop us getting too lost. You can download maps you want onto your phone to easily find where you’d like to go.
It’s also fun to find out more about where we live. Many people think Dumb Woman’s Lane refers to a stupid female. Some of the road names around Rye have obvious associations, Deadmans Lane for instance leads to the graveyard. But Dumb Woman’s Lane attracts attention and is a photo opportunity for tourists, perhaps because it could be interpreted as quite insulting.
Most people would be likely to assume that dumb woman was a slow, uneducated woman perhaps a former village idiot, but the story behind the name is something quite different.
We must always remember that this area was once on the main route for smugglers bringing, lace, brandy and tobacco into England from the 14th through to the 19th Century. Many local place names have associations with this illustrious part of our history. The dumb woman may have been a poor hapless woman who witnessed the contraband being hauled up the lane and had her tongue cut out so she couldn’t report the crimes she saw.
Another possibility is that a mute woman who lived on the lane dispensed herbal remedies in the area, so the street was named after her due to her significance in the local community.
Whatever the truth about how the lane was named, the walk along South Undercliff to reach it is certainly worthwhile. The bluebells along the adjoining Float Lane leading up to Udimore are stunningly lovely and at their best just now. To see them is a reward for your efforts!
Image Credits: Mags Ivatts .