First-time visitors are always surprised at how extensive we are behind the small High Street facade - one thought we are like a Tardis! 

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 on a tour of the town.

Rye Auctions one of the most well supported auction houses on the south coast - check the latest updates here

Since the Middle Ages people have cultivated rye widely in Central and Eastern Europe. It serves as the main bread cereal in most areas east of the French-German border and north of Hungary. In Southern Europe, it was cultivated on marginal lands.

Welcome to the Rye Museum website!  There is lots to explore.

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…

Always something happening in the Rye Bay area

For centuries Rye was an island with only one land connection at high tide to the mainland through the Landgate.

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. 

Rye bread, including pumpernickel, is a widely eaten food in Northern and Eastern Europe.[14][15] Rye is also used to make crisp bread. Rye flour is high in gliadin but low in glutenin. It therefore has a lower gluten content than wheat flour. It also contains a higher proportion of soluble fiber. Alkylresorcinols are phenolic lipids present in high amounts in the bran layer (e.g. pericarp, testa and aleurone layers) of wheat and rye (0.1–0.3% of dry weight).[16]

See also nearby Winchelsea which is also steeped in history. Visit Winchelsea Church which is part of the ruined Monastery.

Meandering for over one and a half miles from Rye to the coast, the river forms part of the picturesque scenery visible from several vantage points in and around the citadel of Rye.

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.

Past and present places of worship in Rye include St Mary's, the Anglican parish church with Norman origins;[29] St Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic church, rebuilt in 1929; a 1909 Baptist chapel in Cinque Ports Street, replacing the Rye Particular Baptist Chapel of 1754 (which itself stood on the site of an older Quaker meeting house); former Congregational and Independent churches; and a Methodist chapel.[30]

Anything else I should know? Plenty of shopping opportunities including The Vintage Stockroom, a new shop packed with utilitarian furniture, industrial bits and Americana. A cluster of antique shops by the quay include Glass Etc, run by Antiques Roadshow expert Andy McConnell. The George hotel has just opened The Shop Next Door , selling hotel-inspired soft furnishings.

In May 1940, during the darkest days of World War II, the Rye fishing fleet was invited to participate in Operation Dynamo, the seaborne rescue of the stranded British Expeditionary Force at Dunkirk, but refused to do so.[17]

Rye also is an important yachting base, offering the only safe haven for many miles in either direction along this section of Channel coast. Yachts may currently moor either at Rye Harbour or at the Strand Quay at the edge of the town.[26] There have been numerous plans proposed for a modern yacht marina to be built at Rye, but each has foundered on economic or planning grounds.

Reservations continue to come in from all over the UK and elsewhere too for the  6th all-day Medieval Conference to be held in Rye, but there are still some places available — if you hurry.   Michael Hicks, Professor of Medieval History at the University of Winchester, has brought together a group of distinguished academics  to present lectures with the latest research on a range of topics:  Here are the titles of the talks:

The Strand House 15th Century, 13 en-suite rooms, oak beamed guest house

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.

Walking Tour of Rye, the most beautiful town in England, by Jonathan Copeland, ISBN 9781301139996, describes every important building, explains it and puts it into historical context. Many photographs illustrate the book.

The Old Well House … find out more

At Rye Harbour, the Rastrums Wharf (which was renovated in the 1980s) has the capacity to take large ships up to 80 metres (260 ft) on a high tide.

The sheer concentration of living history packed into this vibrant market town makes it the ideal base for a holiday of discovery, or a relaxing short break. There are many comfortable, welcoming hotels and guest houses and plenty of charming inns and restaurants.

The Mermaid Inn, Rye Superb deals on mid-week breaks in Rye's famous hotel

Don’t forget to admire the views from the Lookout (the balcony).  Here is a recent Marsh panorama contributed by Peter Varley.  For more views — by Clive Sawyer, click here.

From 1838–1889 Rye had their own Borough Police force.[14] The Borough Police force was a small force, often with just two officers. Rye police frequently had difficulties on Bonfire night (5 November) and special constables were recruited to help deal with the problems bonfire gangs caused. After amalgamation with the County Force in 1889 a new police station was provided in Church Square.[15] In 1892 the strength of the town police, now amalgamated, was one sergeant and three constables.[16]

Rye Heritage Centre, The Old Sail Loft Rye Strand Quay Rye TN31 7AY

The Gallery is home to an inspiring display of regularly changing contemporary art and craft, a fine Permanent Collection of national and regional importance and a programme of supporting events and community activities.

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.

Winter in Rye Bay is magical ask about special rates with your favourite venue

The 2017 Rye Guide - is in production - to be included email click here for details/

If you didn’t click on the slideshow’s Digging Up History photo, be sure to do so for a link to a grand aoount of our recent conference on The Plague of 1665.

Looking for a Restaurant in Rye?


Looking for a Holiday Cottage in Rye?

And if I don’t like scallops?Freshly flavoured regional Indian food is dished up by chef Dev Biswal at The Ambrette. Webbe’s at the Fish Café serves fish from the local fleet. And the High Street is packed with tea rooms offering homemade scones and sandwiches.

Luxury Hotel with Pool Hotel with Champagne bar & swimming pool within town centre!

Next month’s scallop festival is just one reason to visit the pretty seaside town. Exploring the old town’s streets and a trip to the sandy beaches nearby make for an idyllic weekend break, too

Rye is grown primarily in Eastern, Central and Northern Europe. The main rye belt stretches from northern Germany through Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania and Latvia into central and northern Russia. Rye is also grown in North America (Canada and the United States), in South America (Argentina, Brazil and Chile), in Oceania (Australia and New Zealand), in Turkey, in Kazakhstan and in northern China.

Visit us to browse and buy pictures and beautiful objects and also to see some of the Collection - check our Exhibition pages first or check our six-monthly Programme Brochure available in the Gallery or by email and by post.