Property: The Tourist Resort That Once Protected England ; HOT SPOT RYE, EAST SUSSEX

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SEVENTY MILES from London and two miles from the English Channel, Rye used to help the original Cinque Ports to defend south-east England against invasion by sea. Now, the land routes are woefully unprotected, and this attractive cobbled town is regularly invaded by tourists, native and foreign alike. It is not a pretty sight, but for hoteliers and owners of B&Bs and holiday homes, it has its compensations.

"Rye's property market does well even when the market generally is in the doldrums," Nick Robins, of estate agent Rush Witt & Wilsons, says. "In addition to buyers from Rye and London, we sell second homes to people from France, Germany and Holland. This steady demand means Rye is sort of semi-protected financially."

Rye is on the River Rother. Mr Robins says: "Quayside apartments are especially attractive to investors, many of whom spend the summer in the flat and let it the rest of the year. Tenants are first-time buyers saving or their first home, or people on fixed- term contracts in Ashford, Hastings, Tunbridge Wells, or even Rye."

As well as Tudor and Georgian homes, Rye's housing stock includes buildings from medieval times, and small listed homes cost about pounds 200,000. Larger ones, such as Knellstone in Udimore, three miles from Rye, have seven bedrooms, outbuildings, a three-acre plot, and a price tag of pounds 895,000. The agents are Knight Frank.

l THE LOWDOWN

Transport

Rye is three stops from Ashford, which is an interchange for trains to London and the Continent via Eurostar. …