Cards of the Cinque Ports

Cigarette Cards from the Frank Palmer Collection

Cinque Ports Flag

A silk from the Kensitas British Empire Series showing the flag of the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports.

A ship of the Cinque Ports

A Ship of the Cinque Ports from the Churchman’s ‘Story of Navigation’ set. This was the type of vessel built in numbers at the ship yards of Rye and manned by the men of Rye.

A sussex GunnerThe Player’s card below pictures a seaman of the Cinque Ports. 1513. The men of the Cinque Ports were exempt from sevice in the land forces, unlike the Sussex Gunner on the Player’s card on the left. Men of Rye and the other Cinque Ports towns formed a kind of standing naval force, which could be called upon to man the ships when required in cases of national emergency.

Cinque Ports SailorCinque Pors Sailor

In 1513 we read that “Every person that goeth into the Navie shal have a cote of white cotyn with red crosse, and the Arms of the Portis underneath; that is to sey, the halfe lyon and the halfe shippe.” The Card on the right¬†comes from the Carreras “History of Naval Uniforms.”


The Mermaid Inn and Mermaid Street feature in all of the cards in this section.

Cards from Players, Wills, De Reszke and Churchman’s give a wealth of information about The Mermaid, Mermaid Street and Rye in general.

Mermaid Street
Mermaid Street

“From the Norman Conquest until the reign of Henry VII this quaint street of mediaeval houses formed one of the main thoroughfares in the great Cinque Port of Rye” declares De Reszke’s “England, historic and picturesque series”

Cinque Port of Rye
Cinque Port of Rye

A medieval town of cobbled streets, situated on a sandstone bluff overlooking Romney Marsh.” is how Rye is described in Curchman’s ‘Holidays in Britain’ set of 48 cards.

Chicken seem to be prevalent at the back of the Mermaid in two cards from different tobacco companies.

The description on the Player’s ‘Architectural Beauties series flatters the town nicely. “In Tudor days the little town of Rye, clinging to its knoll overlooking the Romney Marsh, was a naval base equal in importance to the present day Portsmouth or Plymouth. Now the sea is two miles away and golfers tramp the soil which held the anchors of a fleet. The Mermaid Inn on Mermaid Street, dates from this time. There is no reason to doubt that many of Drake’s captains made merry under its roof when Rye was a thriving port with special privileges from the State.”

There is a lot to be found on the back of a cigarette card.

Rye’s Own January 2003

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