Living on a frontier

The Rother divides Kent from Sussex for most of its length apart from the final stretch around Rye close to the sea

When I first arrived in Rye, I was told St Mary’s was known as the “Far East” in the diocese, which stretched from Chichester at the other end of Sussex to Rye. I did feel Rye was a bit “out on the edge” when Kent County Council’s headquarters in Maidstone is closer than East Sussex County Council’s (ESCC) headquarters in Lewes and Ashford Borough Councils headquarters in Kent is closer than Rother District Council’s (RDC) in Bexhill on the far side of Hastings.

But the RDC empty my bins (and deal with planning matters) and ESCC seems mainly to deal with parking and roadworks so both affect my life.

However, prints I have of historic maps and drawings show that Rye is part of a changing coastline where historic storms have moved the mouth of the river Rother from Romney to Rye, and swept away the old Winchelsea port, and the Royal Military Canal probably once marked the safest route around the marshes.

The Sussex boundary therefore runs along the Rother’s current route with a little kink taking in East Guldeford and Camber before the area around Iden and Peasmarsh south of the Isle of Oxney (once an actual island) separates Rye from Tenterden and Kent.

And, though the railway cuts through from Rye to Ashford (and on to London) in one direction, and to Hastings (and Eastbourne) in the other, the bus routes, and their frequency, seem to take into account the county boundaries.

Facing different directions

So the Rother boundary does seem to mean that those over the border in Kent look more to Ashford and Folkestone for their shops and council services, and beyond to Maidstone for the county council, and the police headquarters. And those in Sussex look the other way?

So, notwithstanding car use, I do feel I live on the edge between two areas facing very much in different directions, though I cross the “frontier” sometimes.

Buses to Tenterden however seem to have got fewer since I first arrived, and often the pull of Hastings’ shops is stronger than Romney’s Sainsbury’s, while Ashford’s shops seem even more scattered than Hastings’, so I feel I look west most of the time.

But I don’t have a car (I can’t drive), and I live alone, so my experience of Rye, and where I go and shop, and of “living on a frontier”, may be very different from others – or is it?

I love Rye because of it’s geography and it’s history – and local geography has over the centuries very much affected the town and its surroundings, and still does – but is that why you live here?

Image Credits: Ray Prewer .


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