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Rye: Sussex towns and villages

PUBLISHED: 11:34 27 June 2013 | UPDATED: 11:34 27 June 2013

Rye village

Rye village


Rye is at the confluence of three rivers, the Brede, the Tillingham and the Rother

Water, water everywhere

Rye is at the confluence of three rivers, the Brede, the Tillingham and the Rother. It was also once an important member of the Cinque Ports confederation, (a historic series of coastal towns in Kent and Sussex, originally formed for trade and military purposes, but now entirely ceremonial). Its importance in the confederation was due to the fact that it used to lie at the head of an embayment of the Channel, almost entirely surrounded by the sea.

Defence is the best form of attack

In 1289, Rye received its charter from King Edward I, which gave it tax exemptions in return for ship-service for the crown. Defending Rye was of the upmost importance, because of its strong trade links, and one of the oldest surviving buildings in the town, The Ypres Tower, was built to defend the town from the French. The Landgate, built in 1329, is the last of four original fortified entrances to Rye, and is now the only vehicular route into the medieval centre of the town.

Travel by land and sea

There used to be a summer steamship sevice between Rye and Boulogne, in France, which closed before World War II. There was also a tram system in Rye, which was to serve local golf courses, and Camber Sands, called the Rye and Camber Tramway. This too closed at the outbreak of World War II, never to be re-opened.

Literary links

Henry James, E.F. Benson and Rumer Godden all lived at Lamb House for a time. Benson subsequently mentions the town many times in his book, Mapp and Lucia. Daniel Defoe said that Rye “would flourish again, if her harbour, which was once able to receive the royal navy, cou’d be restor’d.”


Camber Castle

Take an English Heritage guided tour around this fascinating castle, built by Henry VIII properties/camber-castle


The Ambrette

Indian fusion with a modern twist – gorgeous flavours in an impressive setting

01797 222043;


The Ship Inn

16th century wooden beams, real ale, and the friendliest welcome for miles around

01797 222233;


The George in Rye

Old meets new here, with its exposed beams, panelled walls and chic rooms

01797 222114;


Notable neighbours: Actor Tom Baker lives here, and Sir Paul McCartney went to school in the area

Getting there: Rye has its own station, which links it directly to Ashford International. It is on the A259 and A268


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