England: Smugglers, Spies and Soldiers

Before the Norman conquest of 1066, Sandwich was one of five towns that provided the King with ships and men in exchange for special trading privileges. Although Sandwich became the chief harbor for the export of wool it didn’t stop the town from participating in smuggling. Many caves along the south coast led to the cellars of taverns and homes of local politicians. In Deal the whole community was involved in tax evasion. Smugglers engaged in two-way espionage delivering their knowledge to both the French and British. When Napoleon declared his intention to invade England, the Royal Military Canal was dug, Martello Towers erected along the coast, and tunnels were dug into the cliffs at Dover. These tunnels, and the little coastal port of Newhaven, were to play a major role during WW2. For more information check out Journeys through the British Isles, episode #11.

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