Today I’m meeting up with Paula and we are traveling by train to Rye, in East Essex. Rye is an old town near the coast and lined with medieval, half-timbered houses on cobbled streets. A great one-day getaway from the big city of London. Always a pleasure to travel with Paula to visit historical places.
Our train left from St. Pancras Station and we were in Rye within 90 minutes, including one layover. We walked around a bit to get a feel of the town. So many old buildings and homes – and the cobbled streets, which were not easy to walk on, were everywhere.
We came across an old inn that had a restaurant that looked interesting. The Mermaid Inn dates from the 15th century with some parts dating from much earlier. The menu looked inviting so we stayed for lunch. The fireplace in the bar was one of the key historical elements of the inn. It is said to be the largest of its kind in England.
After lunch we walked through a number of the shops then visited Rye Castle (Ypres Tower) and Museum. It dates from 1249 and has served several purposes over the years (defense, prison, home). Walking up the narrow stairs with low clearance. Great views, interesting features and well-maintained.
Nearby was St. Mary’s Parish Church. Below is a write-up from their website that includes information about the church and Rye.
“When the building of the present church was started, early in the 12th century, the town itself and much of the surrounding area was still held, under a Royal deed of gift, by the Abbey of Fecamp in Normandy. It is because of this link with Fecamp and the fact that it had become an important member of the Cinque Ports Confederation that Rye has such a magnificent church, which has sometimes been called ‘the Cathedral of East Sussex’. The worst disaster in the church’s history occurred in 1377 when the town was looted and set on fire by French invaders and the church was extensively damaged. The roof fell in and the church bells were carried off to France.They were recovered the next year when men from Rye and Winchelsea sailed to Normandy, set fire to two towns and recovered much of the loot, including the church bells – one of which was subsequently hung in Watchbell Street, to give warning of any future attack. It was not returned to the church until early in the 16th century. The ‘new’ clock was installed in about 1561-2 and was made by the Huguenot Lewys Billiard. It is one of the oldest church turret clocks in the country still functioning. The pendulum, a much later addition, swings in the body of the church. The present exterior clockface and the original ‘Quarter Boys’ (so called because they strike the quarters but not the hours) were added in 1760. Today, if you wish, you can climb the church tower where you will see the 8 bells now hanging there. These are not the same bells that were stolen in 1377 as they were re-cast in 1775 and new bells added. The total weight of the 8 bells and clappers is almost 5 tons.”
St. Mary’s Parrish Church, Rye (from stock photo)
We were both ready for some tea and found another inn that was serving afternoon tea. They had many locally-made treats to enjoy with tea. Paula ordered scones and I had a Victorian sponge cake with raspberry filing. We took our time eating our treats and had several cups of tea. It looked like the place was closing so we left to explore a few more shops before returning to the train station.
I was getting good at walking on the cobbled streets. I had learned that the rocks came from the local beach but it is now forbidden to remove any of the rocks. We heard a story that one street was nearly paved over with asphalt but was stopped when local residents complained. It turned out that it was the wrong street to be paved and the asphalt was removed and the cobbled street was restored.
We were both tired from walking around and ready to return to London. Paula, thankfully, realized we were on the wrong platform so we quickly went up and over to the other side – just in time to meet the train. We arrived after 7:00 p.m. What an enjoyable day! Just the perfect little journey to explore someplace new.
Tomorrow I have some planning to do and work a little on my cousin’s finances to prepare to close out his estate.