Year to remember historic warship loss

In 1488, the first four-masted warship to be built for the English Royal Navy was masted and rigged in Rye shipyard.

The hull and decks were constructed at the Smallhythe and Reading shipyards near to Tenterden.

The ship was named Regent and its keel was laid at Reading in 1486. Henry VII visited the Reading yard in 1487 to review its progress with Regent and he went on to visit Rye and Winchelsea.

Regent was repaired, enlarged, and refitted between 1510 and 1511. And in the year 1512 she was totally lost in battle in the Atlantic, just off the westmost peninsula of Brittany.

August 10 this year will be the five hundredth anniversary of the loss of Regent, of the loss of hundreds and hundreds of its company: commander and sailors; gunners and marines.

What happened that day was effectually the first vast-scale catastrophe for the Royal Navy and for the Confederation of the Cinque Ports.

Perhaps this five hundredth anniversary should be formally and ceremonially remembered in August?

Incidentally, the original construction of Regent was superintended by Sir Richard Guldeford as Master of Ordnance and Comptroller on behalf of the man who knighted him just before clobbering Richard III.

Sir Richard owned or was awarded manors at Rolvenden, Benenden, and Higham (Winchelsea).

He was the superintendent of the claiming of the Guldeford Levels from the sea to form south-west sector of Walland Marsh; he sponsored the building of the chapel of East Guldeford Saint Mary; and he presided over the construction of a fortified blockhouse and tower around year 1497 on the site that was eventually the base for Camber Castle.

It is possible that the extraordinary and tragic saga of the Regent might be of more concern and interest to some readers when compared to whatever Henry VIII muttered to Anne Boleyn in 1526.

CLIVE CHIZLETT

North Salts, Rye