Rye in East Sussex Town Guide

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The Legend of the Headless Horseman

The Legend of the Headless Horseman: THE HISTORY OF RYE AND ROMNEY MARSH

A presentation by David EP Dennis BA (Hons) FCIPD AFRHS LCGI RAF

David is an Associate Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and Journal Editor for the Hastings and East Sussex Natural History Society. He researches and writes books on medieval history and features for Hastings Independent Press newspaper

Welcome to the world of crime, horror and imagination.

We look back to the earliest times when stories began about headless men. We examine the Tale of Gawain and the Green Knight and the Beheading Game. Then we consider King’s Taxes, the Owling smugglers of Rye, Winchelsea and Hawkhurst and the Romney Marsh ‘Blue Coats’ of Aldington and how they scared people over the ages into keeping silent about the vast system of import crime. We look at the psychology of ghosts and apparitions and the 18th century stories of headless horsemen and the Scarecrow of Dr Syn. We look at the literature of smuggling and we hear Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem about smugglers. We also learn about ‘lamping’, bioluminescence, the use of phosphorus and Will-o’the-Wisp – those floating balls of fire seen in the Marshes at night. Lastly, we consider the work and weapons of the Excise and Customs Men, the Water Men and the public executions for those arrested for smuggling.

Tickets are available exclusively from The Rye Heritage Centre website

ryeheritage.co.uk

The Legend of the Headless Horseman

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