"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years." - Abraham Lincoln

Posted on May 24, 2017 by Sioux under General


Our second day in Rye was a walkabout-in-Rye day, and walk we did! We explored every nook and cranny and every street that took our fancy, and waked all over! Our first stop was the ‘white smock’ windmill B&B, one of the town’s most famous landmarks, on the banks of the river Tillingham. From there we headed into town, meandering in and out of the cobbled streets.

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The Mermaid Inn                                                       in Rye, one of the best-known restaurants in southeast England, was                                                            established in the 12th century and has quite an interesting history! The current building                    dates from 1420 with some 16th-century additions in the Tudor style, but the original cellars, built in 1156, still survive. During the 1730’s-40’s, the notorious Hawkhurst Gang used it as one of their strongholds. Apparently, some of the smugglers, their mistresses and other characters reportedly haunt the inn. The beautiful cobbled Mermaid Street is known as one of the prettiest streets in the country.

The building on Oak Corner was originally built in the 11th century, partially destroyed by a fire set by the French in 1377, rebuilt in 1490 and is now a privately owned home.

Most of the buildings in Rye are named and have the quaintest name plaques on their walls! 

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Lamb House, famous as the home of the expatriate American writer Henry James, is also known as the house King George I took refuge in, after a storm drove his ship ashore in 1726. The King was returning from Hanover to open Parliament when he was driven ashore, landing at Camber Sands. James Lamb escorted the King to his house where the family entertained him for three days though George spoke very little English and the Lambs knew no German. On the very first night Mrs Lamb gave birth to a baby boy. The King agreed to act as godfather at the christening of the baby in

St Mary’s church; and the boy was named George.  

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The Parish Church of Rye, dedicated to St Mary the Virgin, has dominated the hill on which the old town stands, for more than 900 years. The present church was built early in the 12th century, when the town and much of the surrounding area was still held by the Abbey of Fecamp in Normandy, France. It is due to this link and the fact that Rye was an important member of the Cinque Ports Confederation, that the town has such a magnificent church, which is also known as ‘the Cathedral of East Sussex’.


The exterior clock face and the Quarter Boys which stand

above the dial were added in 1761. 

Visitors are allowed to climb the church tower, to a narrow walkway at the top, which offers the most spectacular views of the surrounding area. Needless to say we took full advantage of that! During the climb you pass the 8 bells now hanging there. These are not the same bells that were stolen in 1377 as they were re-cast in 1775 and new bells added. The total weight of the 8 bells and clappers is almost 5 tons.

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                                                                        In 1377 the church was                                                                       extensively damaged when the town suffered a devastating attack by French invaders. Much of the town was looted, razed to the ground and its inhabitants slaughtered. The roof fell in and the church bells were carried off to France, but were recovered the following year. 

Another feature of the tower is the golden weather vane which dates from 1703. From its beginning, the tower, visible from Dungeness to Fairlight, has been used as a lookout and a land mark for sailors.

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Camber Castle, seen from the top of the church

tower, is a 16th-century Device Fort built near Rye by King Henry VIII as protection against French attack. The first fortification on the site was a small, round artillery tower, constructed between 1512 and 1514, overlooking the entrance to Rye Harbour. In 1539, increasing tensions with France resulted in Camber Castle being rebuilt and extended over the next year. The result was a large, concentric artillery fort, built from stone and  brick with a central keep; surrounded by four circular bastions and a circular entrance  bastion. Initially equipped with 28 brass and iron artillery guns and a garrison of 28 men,  it may have seen service in 1545 when a French fleet attacked the coast, but its  operational value was short lived due to the Camber and the surrounding harbours silting  up, becoming unusable by shipping. The coastline receded away from the fort, eventually  placing it well in-land, although the property was probably used as

an early warning site

during WW2.

The Little Cheyne Court                                                                                                            Wind Farm is located on Romney Marsh and was                                                    built at a cost of around £50 million. The 26 wind turbines stand 115m high and are distributed over an area of 4 km² with a peak generation of 59.8MW. 

Just in front of the church entrance is Fletchers House, which was once home to Jacobean playwright John Fletcher, born in 1579. The house has been used as a tearoom and restaurant since 1932. 

Founded in 1847, the Rye Bonfire Society arranges bonfire nights in the area and is responsible for keeping the fireworks displays safe. 

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After visiting the church, we headed for Rye Castle.


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2 responses to “Birthday fun #3 – Walkabout in Rye part 1”

  1. Chez says:

    So so interesting thank you! Keep em coming x x

  2. Malta says:

    What LOVELY and fascinating photos. You are not going to believe the serendipity of this… I am going to be staying at the Mermaid Inn on Friday night for my birthday. These gorgeous photos have just made it something so special to look forward to. Are/were you there for your birthday?

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