Rye is a town in East Sussex that in medieval times was one of the Cinque Ports responsible for England's maritime defence. It stood at the head of a bay, which silted up, leaving the town two miles from the sea. This meant that later industry and development passed it by, so its attractive old town centre has been preserved. In 2021 Rye had a population of 4975.

Get in edit

"Before the Roman came to Rye or out to Dover strode, the rolling English drunkard made the rolling English road...."
- GK Chesterton

By train edit

Trains run hourly from Ashford International, taking 20 min. They continue west from Rye to Winchelsea, Hastings, Bexhill, Pevensey Bay and Eastbourne. Ashford has fast trains from London St Pancras but Eurostar no longer stops there. Change at Eastbourne for Brighton.

1 Rye station is in town centre. It has a ticket office and machines, a waiting room but no toilets. There is step-free access but the two platforms are separated. The station building is by Platform 2; if you can't use the footbridge (no lift) it's a quarter-mile via a staff-assisted crossing to Platform 1.

By bus edit

Stagecoach Bus 101 runs hourly from Hastings, taking 50 min via Ore, Fairlight and Winchelsea.

Bus 102 runs hourly from Dover, taking 2 hr 20 min via Folkestone, Hythe, Dymchurch, New Romney, Lydd and Camber.

The main bus stop is at the railway station.

Get around edit

Rye itself is best explored on foot. Use the bus (as above) for Camber Sands or Winchelsea. Bus 313 runs to Northiam every two hours, for Great Dixter House and Gardens.

Rye Hire rent bicycles.

Taxi operators are Rye Taxi Services (+44 7774 633046), Mike's (+44 7496 965050), Village Taxi (+44 7479 012485), Taxiwise (+44 7707 737017) and All7 (+44 7775 377777).

See edit

Mermaid Street
  • Town centre is picturesque, with steep cobbled streets lined with timber-framed houses. The Church of St Mary (Episcopal) is 12th century and you can climb the bell tower.
  • 1 Rye Castle (Ypres Tower), Gungarden, Rye TN31 7HE, +44 1797 226728. Daily: Apr-Oct 10:30AM-5PM, Nov-Mar 10:30AM-3:30PM. This was probably built in the early 14th century: in 1329 the town was awarded "murage", the right to levy a tax to pay for defensive walls, and the castle is the likeliest beneficiary. Known then as Baddings Tower, it was involved in the wars against the French and in 1430 became the property of John de Iprys - hence the name changed to "Ypres Tower". It was used as a jail until 1891 then was the town morgue. The site is managed by Rye Castle Museum, whose main display is at East Street. Adult £5, child free.    
  • Castle Museum is the display area at 3 East St. This is free (donations welcome) and only open Apr-Oct: Sa Su 10:30AM-4:30PM.
  • 2 Lamb House, West St TN31 7ES, +44 1797 222909, . F-Tu 11AM-4PM. Charming redbrick mansion built in 1722 by James Lamb, a wine merchant and politician. It has to be called "Georgian" since in 1726 a ship carrying King George I was driven ashore at Camber, he pitched up here needing accommodation, and Lamb's wife went into labour at the sight of him. A string of writers have stayed here: Henry James, EF Benson, Rumer Godden, AC Benson, H Montgomery Hyde, John Senior and Sarah Philo, and other notable figures. The house passed to the National Trust in 1950 and has a large walled garden. Adult £8.80, child £4.40, NT / NTS free.    
  • 3 Rye Heritage Centre, Strand Quay TN31 7AY (Main road on riverside), +44 1797 226696. Sa 10:30AM-4PM, Su Th Tu 10:30AM-2PM. Local history museum by the old wharf, with a collection of early 20th century penny-arcade machines.
  • 4 Landgate was built in 1329 and is the only survivor of the town's medieval gates. It can be passed by light traffic, max width 4.1 m.
  • 5 Camber Castle, Harbour Rd, Rye TN36 4JS (a one-mile walk along track), +44 370 333 1181. Tour Aug-Oct first Sa of month 2PM. In 1539 trouble was looming with France and Henry VIII had qualms about his defences. He therefore commissioned "device forts" - coastal artillery positions. This one was of botched initial construction, rendered obsolete by artillery advance, and left stranded amid grazing sheep by the receding sea. Worst of all for any self-respecting military engineer, peace broke out with France. That meant the castle was left alone (the plan to make it a golf clubhouse fell through), so it's a rare example of an intact device fort. You can see the exterior free anytime, but to go within you have to join the monthly guided tour. Tour adult £3, child free, concessions £1.50.    
  • Camber Sands are two miles southeast past the golf course.
  • 6 Mary Stanford Lifeboat House is just a rickety old shed on the shingle beach towards Winchelsea, but one with a tale to tell. Mary Stanford was the Rye Lifeboat, which put out in a gale at daybreak on 15 Nov 1928 to assist the Alice, a freighter from Riga involved in a collision. Five minutes after she launched came word that the crew of Alice had already been rescued so recall flares were fired, but the lifeboat crew can't have seen them. At 10:30 the lifeboat was seen to capsize, and all 17 crew were lost. The lifeboat was not self-righting as such a boat would have been too heavy to drag and launch on this shore.
  • 7 Winchelsea is a smaller version of Rye and was likewise a Cinque Port. The village was washed away by the sea in 1287 and rebuilt on its present site. Court Hall Museum is open May-Oct. In the churchyard of St Thomas find the grave of entertainer Spike Milligan (1918-2002) with his epitaph Dúirt mé leat go raibh mé breoite, Irish for "I told you I was ill."

Do edit

Gibbet Mill
  • Cinema: Kino Rye is on Lion St in a former church.
  • Rye Sports Centre is on The Grove north of the level crossing. It has a gym, fitness classes and pool.
  • Golf: Rye GC is a mile southeast towards Camber. The Old Course is 6284 yards, par 68. The Jubilee is 12-hole, creating two loops of nine, on land reclaimed from the receding sea.
  • 1066 Country Walk is a 31-mile trail from Pevensey via Herstmonceux, Battle and Winchelsea to Rye.
  • Rye Jazz & Blues Festival is late August. The next is probably 24-28 Aug 2023, tbc.
  • Rye Arts Festival is held over two weeks in September. The next is probably 8-24 Sep 2023, tbc.

Buy edit

  • Jempson's is the main store, next to the station. It's open M-Sa 06:00-22:00.
  • There's a string of commercial art galleries along High St.
  • Rye Market is held in Regent Square by the station on Thursday 09:00-15:00.

Eat edit

  • Marino's is a fish and chips takeaway at 37 The Mint, open daily noon-9PM.
  • The Fig on High St serves excellent meals and has rooms.
  • 1 Webbe's, 17 Tower St TN31 7AT, +44 1797 222210. Daily noon-2PM, 6-9PM. Good seafood restaurant.
  • 2 Lemongrass, 1 Tower St TH31 7AT (by Landgate arch), +44 1797 222327. Tu-Su 5-11PM. Authentic Thai food.
  • 3 Landgate Bistro, 5 Landgate TN31 7LH (by Landgate arch), +44 1797 222829. W-Sa 7-9PM. Pleasant modern restaurant in a knock-through of Georgian shops.
  • 4 The Union, 8 East Street TN31 7JY, +44 1797 229289. Daily noon-10PM. Modern British restaurant in a 15th century building.
  • Simply Italian, 12 Strand TN31 7DB (50 yards east of Heritage Centre), +44 1797 226024. W noon-8PM, Th-Su noon-10PM. Excellent little Italian restaurant by the riverside.

Drink edit

Ypres Tower
  • 1 Cinque Ports Inn, Cinque Ports Street TN31 7AN (by station entrance), +44 1797 222319. Daily 10AM-10PM. The oldest pub in Rye, trad place with Shepherd Neame real ale and pub grub.
  • 2 The Old Bell, 33 The Mint TN31 7EN, +44 1797 223323. M-Th noon-10PM, F Sa 11:30AM-11PM, Su 11:30AM-9PM. Atmospheric pub with half-timbered interior, good pub food
  • 3 The Standard, 40 The Mint TN31 7EN (50 yards west of Old Bell), +44 1797 225231. Daily noon-11PM. Restored 15th-century inn with ancient oak beams, serving real ale and food. B&B double £90.  
  • 4 Ypres Castle Inn, Gun Garden, TN31 7HH (by castle), +44 1797 223248. Th-Sa noon-10PM, Su noon-8PM. 17th-century weather-boarded pub serving craft beer, real ales, local cheeses and cured meats. Dog-friendly, pleasant river views. No cash, contactless payment only.
  • 5 Ship Inn, The Strand TN31 7DB, +44 1797 229256. M-Sa noon-11PM, Su noon-10PM. 16th-century inn among the old warehouses, now antique shops, by the river wharf. Has rooms. B&B double £60.  
  • 6 Queen's Head, 19 Land Gate TN31 7LH (opposite Landgate Bistro), +44 1797 226929. M Th noon-2:30PM, 6-11PM, Tu W 6-11PM, F Sa noon-midnight, Su noon-4PM. Reliable friendly pub with food.
  • 7 Bedford Arms, 91 Fishmarket Rd TN31 7LR (by Landgate arch), +44 1797 360634. Daily noon-10:30PM. Trad pub with bar and games area, and garden overlooking a cricket pitch.
  • 8 Globe Inn, 10 Military Rd TN31 7NX, +44 1797 225220. M-Th noon-10PM, F noon-11PM, Sa Su 9AM-11PM. Relentlessly quirky edge-of-town pub, mostly good reviews.

Sleep edit

Old Rye Grammar School, built in 1636
  • 1 Jeake's House, Mermaid Street TN31 7ET, +44 1797 222828. Beautiful 11-roomed B&B in an ivy-clad 17th-century storehouse. No children under 8. B&B double £110.
  • 2 Gibbet Mill, Ferry Rd TN31 7NW, +44 1797 224027. The windmill was built in 1824. It burned down in 1930 and was re-constructed, you'd have to say re-imagined, as a prettified but non-functional smock mill. It's now an unusual guesthouse. B&B double £110.  
  • 3 Mermaid Inn, Mermaid Street TN31 7EY (opposite Lamb House), +44 1797 223065. Charming atmospheric inn: the cellars date from 1156. The inn along with the rest of town was burned by the French but re-built in 1420. Good restaurant and public bar. B&B double £200.    
  • 4 The George in Rye, 98 High St TN31 7JT, +44 1797 222114. Stylish old coaching inn, mostly Georgian but some harking back to Tudorbethan, a stylish blend of antique and modern. Good dining. B&B double £110.  
  • 5 Hope Anchor, Watchbell St, Rye TN31 7HA, +44 1797 222216. Cosy hotel in an 18th-century inn with good restaurant. B&B double £120.

Further out edit

  • Hare and Hounds on A268 is a B&B and campsite, tel +44 1797 230483. It's no longer a pub.
  • Camber has lots of self-catering cottages.
  • 6 The Gallivant (formerly The Place at the Beach), New Lydd Road, Camber TN31 7RB, +44 1797 225057. Small hotel in Californian beach style, except the view is over Camber Sands not Monterey Bay. No children 18 months - 12 years. B&B double from £160.
  • Cliff Farm, Military Rd, Playden TN31 7QD, +44 1797 280331. This B&B remains closed in 2022.
  • 7 Flackley Ash Hotel, Main St, Peasmarsh TN31 6YH (on A268), +44 1797 230651. Elegant Georgian country house hotel with 44 rooms and spa. £120.
  • 8 Wickham Manor Farm, Wickham Rock Lane, Winchelsea TN36 4AG, +44 1797 226216. B&B in a 16th-century farmstead with winery. It was once owned by William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania.
  • 9 Oak Valley Camping, Pannel Lane, Pett TN35 4JB, +44 7868 115039. Friendly clean site towards Hastings, open March-Sept. No dogs. Two-person tent £24.

Connect edit

Camber Castle

As of May 2022, Rye has 4G from all UK carriers. 5G has not reached this area.

Go next edit

  • Hythe east is another Cinque Port but has lost its medieval centre. Come here for the safari park and the New Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Miniature Railway.
  • Hastings the next town west is rather rundown. The Battle of Hastings was fought at nearby Battle.

Routes through Rye
EastbourneHastings  W   E  Romney MarshFolkestone

This city travel guide to Rye is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.