Lets move to Rye
PUBLISHED: 16:56 29 November 2010 | UPDATED: 15:29 20 February 2013
A seaside town that is no longer by the sea but some say that the beauty of Rye is that it appears to have been stuck in time. Renowned for its cobbled streets, maritime heritage and fine medieval and Georgian buildings, Rye is a popular tourist d...
Smugglers and the Citadel
The town's medieval centre is known as the Citadel and remnants of Rye's ancient fortifications are still obvious here today. With the Landgate Arch, the Ypres Tower, which houses the Castle Museum and is the location of the Gun Gardens, and the many antiques shops and independents that line streets such as Mermaid Street, the history of Rye should certainly keep you busy enough to forget about the washing up.
The town is also renowned for its pottery and you can see the largest collection of Rye pottery on show at Rye Castle Museum. While the churchyard is the perfect spot for quiet reflection the tower of St Mary's Church is the highest point in town, offering wonderful views of the rooftops and surrounding countryside. For centuries, the 900-year-old church was the main lookout point, watching over its cobbled streets and secret passages that were once the home to the smugglers who used the port.
Sail away or spend a day at the beach
Once upon a time, Rye was one of England's key defensive ports and although today the port dries out completely at low tide, the sea is almost two miles away and there may be little need for defence, there is still recreational use of the harbour and bay.
So, once you've got the house, why not buy into a little maritime history yourself? Perhaps a little yacht and a membership with Rye Harbour Sailing Club or Rye Harbour Boat Owners' Association would do the trick; you can even cross the Channel to Calais or Boulogne, which are only a five-hour sail away. For a slightly more sedate life, the fine beaches of Camber are only just around the corner.
Fresh fish and Johnny Depp
With the likes of the Mermaid Inn, which dates from 1156, attracting everyone from the Queen to Johnny Depp (not so long ago, it was rumoured that the Hollywood superstar was so enamoured with the ancient port he intended to move there), Rye has a well deserved reputation for its food.
This culminates each year in the Taste of Rye festival in October, which sees the myriad of restaurants, cafes, pubs and hotels showcasing the best local produce.
"The thing that really stood out as soon as we moved to Rye was the sheer number of restaurants for such a small town," says Lorna Hall, the organiser of Taste of Rye.
"Other than Brighton, we also probably have more entries in the Good Food Guide than anyone else in East Sussex.
"One of the other great things about the town is that it has its own fishing fleet and, if the weather is good, they are always out there bringing in fresh fish each day. It's great popping down to the morning market to see what they have brought in and it makes you try new things, too."
It's all Pugwash
Historically Rye has provided a home and inspiration for everyone from writer Henry James and the Flemish artist Van Dyck to the likes of John Ryan who dreamed up the swashbuckling adventures of Captain Pugwash. Rye's most famous and best-loved author, however, is probably EF Benson whose fictional town of Tilling is based on Rye. The town continues to boast a thriving collection of artists and writers, and provides the perfect backdrop for the annual Rye Festival every September. Started in 1972, it continues to provide a diverse mixture of musical, literary and theatrical events.
Time for wildlife exploration
It's always a pleasure to be able to walk out your front door and within a short while lose your self among the local wildlife. And, residents of Rye are fortunate enough to have the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, an internationally important wildlife site, right on their doorstep.
"The countryside around Rye is great for wildlife watching at all times of year and there is no better place from which to explore a great variety of special habitats," says Dr Barry Yates, manager of the reserve. "Here you can find over 100 species of bird in a day or see flowers or insects found nowhere else in Britain."
Back to school
While the museums are great and the nature reserve also operates educational visits, potential new residents will also be looking for a school to send their sprogs. Well, St Michael's Church of England gets excellent results at primary level and Thomas Peacocke community college is near the town centre.
Other options, slightly further afield, include Buckswood School in Guestling and Homewood School in Tenterden. Both are good mixed private schools.