The Cinque Ports
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Cinque Ports
From the French word "cinque" meaning five. The Cinque Ports were part of this countries defences from the 11th century to at least the 15th. The purpose of such ports were for the production of warships for the country. The ships produced were constructed for the state and their makers were given consideration when paying tallage or ship tax. The ports were under the charge of a warden, known as the Warden of the Cinque Ports. Although the significance of the cinque ports is no longer, the title of Warden still exists on a purely honoury basis. 

Located along the southern coast of England, the initial ports were Dover, Sandwich, Romney, Hythe and Hastings. These original five Cinque Ports indicated in red were known as the Head Ports. They were later joined by others such as those shown in blue, for example - Located and Rye which were known as Antient Ports. Even though they were officially acknowledged as Cinque ports from the 11th century, their history dates back to the time of Alfred the Great whose ship building program, some may consider to be the forerunner of the Royal Navy. As time went by, the number of cinque ports expanded to over thirty which would have included just about every south eastern coastal ship building village. 


New Romney
A Sign for New Romney - one of the original Cinque Ports. New Romney is not the original Cinque Port but Old Romney was the subject of time and tide and has been obliterated from the map, as it has with Winchelsea. The sign reads - Cinque Ports - A Maritime England Heritage Town. All the Cinque Ports have these signs with their respective coat of arms. Although the coat of arms of each port look similar by having the heads of three lions on the left joined to the sterns of the ancient ships on the right, each can be identified by subtle changes of design. Note how this village is twinned with another town in France, as is just about every other town and village in England.


Romney High Street
New Romney high street today


Winchelsea - The Antient Cinque Port that is now inland due to reclamation and tidal changes. The original entrance to the town known as the Strand Gate still exists. It became a member port in 1155.


St Thomas's Church
St Thomas's Church Winchelsea.


Town Map
Here is a town map of Winchelsea. Note the coat of arms that initially seems identical to that of New Romney. If you look closely, and by comparing this with the coat of arms in photograph one, you can see how subtle the differences are.


Rye Harbour Sea Side
Rye estuary looking towards the sea. You can observe in this and the photograph below how this area was ideal for the construction of military warships for the country over the centuries. This is in fact the river Rother. It separates Kent and Sussex for a good few kilometres.


Rye Harbour
Another view of Rye estuary and ideal boat building country. Winchelsea and Rye can be considered twin towns. Being very close to each other, they officially became a member of the Cinque Ports together in about 1155.


Rye Village
A distant  view of the town of Rye, Taken halfway along the road between Rye and The Rother estuary outlet.


William the Conqueror Pub Rye
Rye harbour. The English can never be accused of not using a famous battle or a historic character to go to waste when there is a pub that needs a good name.


Photographic Index



copyright Glen Ray Crack - Battle - East Sussex - United Kingdom
Submitted 10th January 1998
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