“Come, listen to my ditty, while of Rye I sing the fame;
For ’tis indeed an ancient town in character and name.
At first it was an island rock all lonely in the sea;
And neither man nor woman there the mariner could see.
I think ’tis more than probable; the seagulls settled here,
And were the sole inhabitants thro’ many a distant year.”
William Holloway (excerpt from ‘Rye: a ballad’)
We spent last weekend in Rye for the boys birthday. I chose Rye because we had our first ever weekend away there almost exactly three years ago! We even stayed at the same hotel (http://thegeorgeinrye.com) although my budget didn’t quite extend to the same level of luxury as his! The bed was comfortable but the room was really hot – we ended up unplugging the heater so we could sleep better!
Last time we visited, we went kite surfing which was great fun but i’d definitely recommend waiting until the weather is warmer! We had also climbed the tower of St Mary’s church, which is definitely well worth doing. Keep your eyes looking up so you don’t miss the oldest functioning church turret clock. The Quarterboys strike the quarter hours and there is a tenor bell to announce the hour.
Somehow, we managed to miss Ypres Tower last time, despite this being just behind the church! I would thoroughly recommend a visit – it’s only £4 for an adult and packed with much more than you’d expect from the outside. The two staff we met were great fun and told us more about the exhibits. I enjoyed reading about the smugglers and other local legends. As you can see from my photo, we didn’t have the best weather (rain in England in February – who’d have thought it!) so didn’t spend too long out on the balcony! Ypres Tower was built in the 14th century, making it the second oldest building in Rye. Walking out towards the cannons after we’d finished looking around, we spotted the Ypres Castle pub. The rain provided a good excuse to pop in and we were lucky to grab seats by the fire. The staff were lovely and the hops above the bar were a lovely touch. We were still full from our generous breakfasts but the food smelt great!
Other pubs worth a mention are the Mermaid Inn, where the notorious Hawkhurst smugglers used to meet. As we were not staying in the hotel, we could only sit in the Inn area. I liked the stained glass and historic wall decorations. The Old Bell, Rye’s oldest pub, has a lovely beer garden (for warmer days) and is quaint in it’s décor.
We made sure we popped into The Tiny Book Store which is crammed full of books of all genres. The Rye map shown in the top picture was bought in Campion Frames which was a treasure trove of goodies – the boy is still talking about a picture he wished he’d bought!
Overall, we had a lovely chilled weekend. Sadly we had to leave early on Sunday, just as the sun came out and the whole historic town looked beautiful with the backdrop of blue skies. We’ve already said we’ll come back when the weather is warmer, with a view to going to Camber Sands and visiting one of the three nearby vineyards.