Historic Rye, East Sussex
Explore the history of rye
Whereas many towns boast a colourful story but have
little evidence of it, Rye can bear testimony to its
Originally granted to the Abbey of Fecamp in Normandy in
1017, Rye was reclaimed by Henry III in 1247 and blossomed as
a Cinque Port, vital to England's defence. As you
wander about, look for landmarks like the Ypres Tower or Rye
Castle, the Landgate and the Monastery.
Other buildings, such as Lamb House, once the home of
Henry James and later, E F Benson, in West Street are also
open to the public.
Views from the Tower
Don't miss the view from the top of the tower of
St Mary's Parish Church and when you explore the
churchyard, look out for the Town Water Cistern
built in 1735.
13th century storms had changed
the shoreline and moved the River Rother to enter
the sea at Rye, giving it a large, safe harbour.
In the 14th century, Rye became a Head Port of the
Cinque Ports Confederation. The fishing fleet
can still be seen at the newly refurbished Fishing
Smuggling in Rye
Perhaps one of Rye's most exciting periods in history was
the 18th century when it was often regarded as the smuggling
capital of England. Smugglers' hoards were stored in
the old vaulted cellars and some of these can still be seen
tour of the town.
Rye survived frequent French attacks but in 1377 all but
the stone buildings were burned, and the church bells stolen
in one raid. Many of the half timbered houses now seen
in the town date from the rebuilding after this event.
Shapes and Colours of Rye prepared by the Rye
Conservation Society. It gives an interesting
insight into the buildings and materials used over