We asked Cousin Kevin to take some piccies in Sandwich, that wonderful medieval town we discovered on our travels, almost by accident. He came up trumps with this weird and wonderful structure we vaguely recalled seeing near the river’s edge, but we could not quite remember its purpose. It looked like one of those cages naughty villeins were put in to rot! So Kevin put us to rights: It was a pole beacon.
The structure was filled with wood, rags, and kindling, all to be set ablaze as an ancient first alert system. Prior to the arrival of the mighty Spanish Armada, these pole beacons were built, set up, and made ready all along the southern coast of England. When the invasion fleet was sighted in 1588 the beacons were lit, one after the other.
This amazing sight of crackling fire and billowing smoke was the signal for all mannish men to assemble at their local church, armed and ready, and await instructions. The incident is recalled in history books of the time: “Sir Walter Raleigh sailed out to engage the dastardly Spanish in the Channel and Kicked their Arse.”
Cousin Kevin adds, “And that’s why we all speak English today! See... I was listening during history lesson at school, instead of staring out the window.” And we are pleased you were paying attention, old chap!