The Ancient Town of Rye, East Sussex, UK


During the 12th Century Rye became a Cinque Ports Ancient Town. Members of the Cinque Ports were responsible in providing ships and men, to meet the naval and transportation requirements of the English Crown. In return for this, the towns and ports were granted certain privileges and status.


Rye is a really pretty town in the South East of the UK and still has its ancient past flowing through its cobbled streets.

The most picturesque is Mermaid Street, a cobbled lane lined with a mix of medieval timber-framed inns and elegant Georgian houses. Giving its name to the street is one of the oldest buildings in Rye, the Mermaid Inn. This fascinating building has a long and turbulent history, laced with sieges, ghosts, fugitives, and secret passages.

The Mermaid may date back to 1156 when Rye gained membership in the Cinque Ports. Certainly, the foundations and cellars of the Mermaid are of Norman construction. Like most of Rye, the Mermaid was burned by the French in 1377 and only the cellar survived. It was rebuilt in its current form by 1420, and in the English Reformation it was a refuge for Jesuit priests


Rye which dates from the Medieval times, sits on what was once a rocky outcrop. Rye Castle, also known as Ypres Tower, is one of the oldest buildings in Rye built in 1249.


Smuggling was practically abolished during the early 1800’s, but by which time the likes of the Hawkhurst Gang had already left their mark. They were known to have frequented the Mermaid Inn and Ye Olde Bell Inn, moving their wares along a connecting secret tunnel.


The name ‘Rye’ comes from a mangling of Saxon words for an island. When you see Rye today it is hard to see why this hilltop town should be termed an island, but appearances can be deceptive.


The most famous event in Rye’s long history came in 1377 when the French burned the town to the ground, destroying most of its timber buildings.


Another famous hostelry in Rye is Jeake’s House, a late 17th-century hotel, also on Mermaid Street, built as a storehouse by a successful wool merchant.


St Mary’s is a striking Norman building dating to the 12th century. One of the most interesting historical features is a 16th-century clock which boasts an 18-foot long pendulum. The quarter-hours are struck by a pair of gilded cherubs.


About Rye
Address: Rye, East Sussex, England
Attraction Type: Town
Location map
OS: TQ920 206
Photo Credit : Pinterest

Credits  and

You may also like...