15th September – 30th September 2018
The “Rock of Rye”, as it was known in medieval times, is literally built on a stony outcrop. Once surrounded by sea, this fortified hilltop town played an important role in the defence of the south coast of England. These days, the river no longer harbours warships and is home to the local fishing fleet. From spats with the French, marauders and smugglers, this ancient town is steeped in history. After a three-day stay in 1573, Queen Elizabeth I gave Rye the title “Rye Royale”.
A climb up the tower of St Mary’s Church offers wonderful views of the surrounding country: Winchelsea perched on another hill to the west, the meeting of the Rivers Rother and Tillingham, the terracotta roofs of the many timbered houses, cobbled streets and secret passages, once the haunt of smugglers and highwaymen, all regularly attract film crews in search of historic settings for period productions.
The wonderful light and its microclimate have made Rye a haven for artists and writers. Henry James lived in Lamb House, where he wrote several books and E. F. Benson immortalised Rye in his ‘Mapp and Lucia’ books. Rumer Godden, E Nesbitt and John Fletcher are amongst the many celebrities to have lived in or near Rye. The artist Van Dyck was a frequent visitor as he crossed the channel from his native Flanders, which is why he painted so many pictures of ships tied up on The Strand.
Rye is the perfect backdrop for an Arts Festival. It was started in 1972 and is one of the top ten small festivals in Britain, providing a diverse mixture of musical, literary and theatrical events with an emphasis on quality, intellectual weight, style and fun. The visual arts are equally well provided for with local galleries running shows especially for the festival. Venues include St Mary’s Church, the delightful churches in the neighbouring villages of Iden, Playden and Winchelsea and the Barn Theatre at Smallhythe Place, where Ellen Terry lived.
The surrounding area provides many opportunities for different tastes. Sissinghurst and Great Dixter are there for garden enthusiasts. Derek Jarman’s eclectic garden at Dungeness is not far away. The Romney Marsh Churches, Battle Abbey, Bodiam Castle, Bateman’s, Kipling’s house in Burwash and Scotney Castle are amongst the many places to visit.
For more information on Rye Arts Festival please see the website http://www.ryeartsfestival.co.uk/
Step right back into medieval times with a trip to beautiful Rye.
Rye is on the coast and one of the most impressively preserved historic towns in England.
The Old Borough Arms is situated at the foot of the famous Mermaid Street, where you can wander up the winding, cobbled street and pop into the Mermaid Inn, Rebuilt in 1420 – which is about as recent as it gets in Rye!
The Old Borough Arms in Rye is within an easy reach of London, Rye is the perfect place for a break away and as a base to explore Sussex and nearby Kent: the Garden of England.
In the High street there are some lovely little independent shops, restaurants, and some great art galleries and Rye Pottery which is opposite us – where they still make the pottery is worth a visit too.
For some one-off finds explore some of the antique shops opposite the Old Borough Arms. You will be spoilt for choice!
The Rye Heritage Centre has a fantastic working collection of Old Pier amusement machines, and has a variety of local gifts, books and maps.
Rye is known as being an Antient Town and part of the Cinque Ports Confederation – playing a crucial role in defending the country from French attacks in the Norman Times. Whilst staying with us here at The Old Borough Arms or one of our cottages, visit the picturesque Rye Bay fishing port to grab some fresh fish and wander by the harbour where you will find a wonderful nature reserve. Amble along the beautiful Sussex shoreline and take in the various rare birds and habitats populating this stunning area.