Thank you for your lovely comments on my Rye - Part One post, it's such a photogenic town I was spoilt for choice of what to capture! We spent the last couple of days just exploring and learning more about the history of Rye, we were very lucky with the weather!
By the early 14th century, Rye was one of the most important ports on the south coast, but was very venerable to attack by raiding French warships. In 1399 they attacked and burnt 52 houses and the town mill, so with permission granted by King Edward III, the people of Rye began to built the town wall and gates. This above, is what remains of The Landgate Tower which dates from 1340 built of stone rubble with two towers. Despite the improvement in defences, in 1377 the French attacked again and burnt practically every building in the town, with only a few stone examples surviving. At the Landgate Tower the parapets have disappeared and the portcullis removed in 1735, but it still a clear example of Rye's defence against invaders.
There are some wonderfully traditional English pubs in Rye, with names such as "The Pipemakers Arms", "The Runcible Spoon" (Named after the line in The Owl And The Pussycat, hence the beautiful illustrated sign) and "The Rainbow Trout". I am always drawn to these traditional hand painted signs, I'd always rather pop into one of these more oldly-worldly establishments than a modern chain, I bet there are some proper characters propping up the bar in The Pipemakers! I also found this gorgeous traditional drapers Merchant&Mills , with their traditional signage instantly catching my eye, I do have a penchant for antique scissors!
I was very excited to step inside Glass Etc. (above), the so called 'Centre Of The Glass Universe' and I do think it lives up to expectation! It is run by Helen & Andy McConnell (The Antiques Roadshow class specialist) and is Britain's largest antique and vintage glass shop. It's housed within a former Salvation Army chapel which has beautiful large windows to show off the wonderful colours of the glassware, with an smaller adjacent gallery (pictured above) looking out to the main street. They attempt to span between c1750-1980 so there is surely something for everyone! There's a large selection of Scandinavian home ware as well, and I did make several purchases, including a pair of Kosta Boda artichoke votives, and a couple of early 1900's 'bubble' glasses, if you are looking for a statement piece, head here!
We also stopped by the lovely Rye Pottery, which is a family business originally established in the late 1700's. It is one of just a few large potteries left in the world continuing to produce by hand, using the 17th Century decorating technique known variously as Faience, Majolica or Delft. This increasingly rare production style combined with their beautiful, soft colour palette creates a look that is quintessentially Rye Pottery. The hues of blue, green and yellow and their naive, charming characters have always appealed to me, as well as the more graphic stripes of the home ware. I took home a charming little robin to remind me of our trip.
I was expecting to blow the budget in the antique shops in Rye but to be honest, many were just full of rather scrappy stock, or overpriced and touristy repro - we had much more luck in the independent shops!
When the weather took a turn for the grey and windy, we headed to The Rye Heritage Centre and had a proper giggle playing with their original penny slot arcade machines. After exchanging a pound coin for some original pennies you can take a trip back to seaside childhoods and get those machines whirring! They are charming and creepy at the same time, we loved it!
We also payed a visit to the Rye Town Model, which was built by hand by two local history enthusiasts, taking four years of their retirement. It is a part of a sound and light show, where the story of Rye is told by soundtrack, with the models lighting up to show you exactly where it's referring. I love visiting these smaller local museums, they always have so much character! I particularly enjoyed learning the more gory, spooky stories of Rye including the murderer hung on the salt marshes who's skull still sits in a cage in the town halls attic! I wish we could have gone on the ghost tour but it only runs off-season, maybe next time.
We were also very keen to visit The Parish Church of Saint Mary, as it has a stained glass window (below) designed by Sir Edward Burne-Jones (1891), one of my favourite artists. It is a very beautiful church, which has dominated the hill where Rye town stands for more than 900 years. The worst disaster in it's history occured in 1377 when the town was attacked by French invaders, and the church was extensively damaged. The roof collapsed and the church bells taken back 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 their original loot, including the bells.
I could tell instantly which was the Burne-Jones window, the angels face is pure Pre-Raphaelite, with cupids-bow lips and flaming hair. The delicate detail on the trees and glass are absolutely stunning, and I sat and enjoyed it for quite some time. In fact, all the windows in St Mary's are gorgeous, I also found one with a wonderfully detailed lamb and forest floor. I always appreciate the craftsmanship of stained glass windows, not only was it painstaking work, but also dangerous with the inhalation of the lead paint, many of the artists suffered to create these stunning features.
There are just so many unique and characterful properties and details to be found wandering around Rye, a photographers dream really! We had a wonderful couple of days and would happily return for more. We had fabulous dinners at The Standard Inn which I would highly recommend, and as I mentioned in the last post, Jeakes House was the perfect place to stay in such a unique town. What a brilliant Birthday it was!
Thanks as always for reading, hope you're having a great weekend!