Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Of smugglers, real and fictional
The Mermaid was replete with secret passageways, a hide-out for contraband and a meeting place for smugglers! According to the walking guide Frances had picked up at the hotel, as Rye’s importance as a seafaring port diminished, its importance as a smuggler’s haven increased. The notorious Hawkhurst Gang used to hang out at the Inn, no doubt sipping their illicit contraband while keeping a watchful eye out for revenue officers. However, the hostelry’s most famous smuggler was fictional, Thorndike’s Doctor Syn, the vicar of Dymchurch! Frances rolled her eyes as I again rambled on about all his yarns, many of which featured Rye’s Mermaid Inn. For me, those fictional memories were suddenly anchored in reality.