This could be the title of this site in a way, the title ‘though came from a road name I came across in Rye, Sussex last week. It seems I can’t go very far without coming across something that connects withCyprus.
My good friend Gill of Paisley Pedlar fame who I’ve mentioned in previous posts, and I had another of our jaunts last week, this time to take a look at Rye. It is a town that has a very long and interesting history spanning over a thousand years. It is an Antient town of the Cinque Ports which was an association of five sea port towns along the Kent and Sussex coast; set up by Edward the Confessor, its aim was to improve and fortify the sea defences of the English Channel against invaders. Rye, a late addition was an important trading harbour probably the most important of England in medieval times. Today this is difficult to visualise as the sea is two miles away due to the vagaries of weather and waterways. I don’t know why there would be a place named after Cyprus in this small coastal town, it seems like a quaint backwater now but if I sat in an old quiet spot and meditated it wouldn’t take much imagination to carry me back to those times of bustling activity with sailing ships arriving from far flung corners of the trading world.
Cyprus was under Venetian rule from 1489 −1571, the Venetians were great merchants and at that time England had greatly expanded and was a major exporter of wool and trading with the Middle East so I’m sure there was trade between these countries, it isn’t too far fetched to connect Rye with that time and possibly ships coming from Cyprus. I recently finished reading ‘The Venetian’ by Lena Ellena http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15701151-the-venetian a fascinating read that covers a lot of detail of what it was like living on Cyprus at the beginning of this period of Venetian rule, certainly no picnic for the Cypriots. The Venetians were beginning to establish cotton production on Cyprus at that time to replace the more costly production of sugar, who knows Cyprus could have sent cotton to England!
Towards the end of our brief sojourn in this delightful historic town,we visited an emporium selling all manner of goods connected to cloth and the sewing thereof. Quite a fitting finish to this piece as its name is Merchant & Mills and ties in nicely to the theme of trade and merchants past and present. My friend Gill is a sewista and introduced me to this company, I was right in my comfort zone as soon as I set foot over the threshold. It had in stock some really good quality cottons and linens that were just calling me like sirens to buy them; it was tough but I resisted. There were the accoutrements of dressmaking and tailoring all around and memories of my father’s tailor’s shop came drifting into mind. Card patterns hung from a nail and tape measures, tailor’s chalk and twine were all lined up neatly. I will return when I am in need of any of the above, if not to this shop then certainly the virtual one.