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Rye Tourist Information & Visitor Guide

Rye – A Medieval Gem!

Perched on a hill, the medieval town of Rye is the sort of place you thought existed only in your imagination. Almost suspended in time, Rye’s unhurried atmosphere and enchanting streets draw visitors with their warm welcome. It’s small enough to make you feel at home almost straight away but holds enough secret treasures to entice you to stay much longer.

You’ll find quality independent retailers not seen in anonymous malls. Luxury products, antiques, books, records and artisan goods are Rye’s speciality. Art and photography galleries are evidence of a flourishing creative community.

Cobbled streets and narrow passages reveal architectural treasures among beautifully preserved Medieval, Tudor and Georgian buildings. Many are open to the public as fine restaurants, tearooms or pubs. And when you need a well-earned rest, retreat to the comforts of a bed & breakfast or hotel housed in ancient and quirky buildings but with every modern amenity.

Rye is a place where people pride themselves on doing things differently. The Quarter Boys on the tower of St Mary the Virgin don’t strike on the hour but on the quarter.

Mermaid Street is peppered with ancient buildings, with unusual names such as ‘The House Opposite’ or ‘The House with the Seat’. Even the sea is a little wayward – it retreated from the town centuries ago, leaving Rye a stranded seaside town… 

Rye Castle – Ypres Tower/Medieval Garden/ Women’s Prison Tower site:  many displays on smuggling, military, police and  maritime history and with things for children to do!  Open all year round.

Rye Castle Museum 3 East Street site: It houses exhibitions from Rye's history including its unique C18th fire engine.  Many visitors are especially interested in the wooden Tunbridge ware, the tobacco pipes and the examples of pottery made in Rye for which the town was famous.There are also several paintings showing the changes in Rye, its rivers and harbour over the past few centuries. This site is open from April to October at weekends.

Walks wind their way through the historic landscape full of special wildlife, which can be enjoyed all year long. In late spring sea kale blooms on the shingle ridges of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve and marsh mallows flower in the ditches.

Corn buntings can be heard singing and whimbrel flocks feed in the area. In summer dragonflies and damselflies dart over open water and marsh frogs bask in the sun at the edge of ponds. Autumn brings the spectacle of migrating birds and colourful fruit in trees and shrubs. In winter large flocks of lapwings circle over grassland and you might even be lucky enough to spot a bittern in the reed beds or little egrets in the saltmarsh. 

Camber, renowned for its outstanding natural beauty with its miles of golden sands to be enjoyed all year round. With over half a mile to the water’s edge at low tide, visitors have plenty of opportunity to enjoy water sports, bracing walks or to beachcomb for beautiful shells. There is also a scenic cycle track from New Road (the A259 on the eastern outskirts of Rye) to Camber.

Winchelsea is the ‘Antient Town’ of the Cinque Ports built in 13th century – here the sea receded to leave the town high and dry on an inland hilltop.  Its picturesque Georgian houses have inspired many great artists such as Turner and Millais.  This stunning village has stayed true to its ancient roots and is a quaint reminder of the area’s rich history.

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