(800) 523-5842

 


DEAL$
& SPECIAL OFFERS

 

HOT TRAVEL BARGAINS!

 

GET BARGAIN ALERTS

 

IN$TANT DI$COUNT$

 

GET A FREE PROPOSAL!

 

GET A FREE CATALOG

 

-2017-
DESTINATIONS

MANY PRICES STILL WELL
BELOW 8 YEARS AGO!

 

BRITAIN &

IRELAND

 

SCOTLAND
DARE TO COMPARE!

2017 PRICES

IRELAND

DARE TO COMPARE!

CALL 4 2017 PRICES

LONDON

DARE TO COMPARE!

2017 PRICES

ENGLAND
'THE LIONHEART'

2017 PRICES

WALES
'THE PENDRAGON'

2017 PRICES


 
 

PARIS

'LA BELLE'

 

2017 PRICES
DARE TO COMPARE!

PARIS + LONDON

 

 

NEW!

SWI+ZERLAND

6 special regions

2017 PRICES
DARE TO COMPARE!


 

 YOUR DREAM TRIP!  

CUSTOM-MADE

 EUROPE 

FRANCE

GERMANY

ITALY

NETHERLANDS

SPAIN

SWITZERLAND

 

 

bermuda

A PRETTY PLACE PLUS

2017 PRICES
LOWER PRICES AGAIN!


 

HOT!

ICELAND

2017 PRICES

COMBINED

ITINERARIES

 

 

SCANDINAVIA

THE GREAT NORTH

2017 PRICES
WOW! UP TO 14.54% BELOW 2009 LEVELS!

NORWAY

 

SWEDEN

 

DENMARK

 

COMBINED

ITINERARIES

 

 

NEW

ZEALAND

ROAD TRIP!

2017 PRICES
 WOW! UP TO 9.64% BELOW 2009 LEVELS!

NORTH ISLAND

 

SOUTH ISLAND

 

 
CURRENTLY
FEATURED @
HOMEATFIRST.COM
 

EDITOR'S BLOG

 

ADVENTURE

 

PEOPLE

 

GOLF COURSE

 

LODGING

 

EVENTS CALENDAR

 

 
HOME AT FIRST
 

CONTACT INFO

USA & CANADA
(800) 523-5842

WORLDWIDE
+1 610 543 4348

info@homeatfirst.com
 


HOME AT FIRST'S

ADVENTURE

ENGLAND

Stalking the Perfect English Village

THIRD OF A SERIES

         That ethereal community, the imaginary perfect English village what would its components be? There would surely be a village green. Of course, the greengrocer will display the freshest fruit and veg along the footpath in front of his tidy shop. All the call boxes will be painted with the traditional red lacquer and the pub must have windows of leaded glass and a mahogany interior. Shouldn't the stone church tower be the highest structure in town? And flowers! There must be climbing roses of all colors at all times of year, and lilacs and others to festoon the roof eaves and drip over the garden walls. But the architecture what should it be? Half-timbered Tudor? Honey-golden limestone? Thatched gingerbread? Elizabethan? Georgian? Edwardian? Regency? Medieval?
 
          Join us as we again stalk the perfect English village. This, our third nominee, is:

 

THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED IN JANUARY, 2003.             MOST RECENT UPDATE: 2014.

 

 

          Rye is a quiet gem, full of hidden history. Cobblestone streets and smugglers’ inns give away the past in this once important port, now two miles from the Sussex coast. Rye (population 2,700) is small, quaint, and very walkable. Rye is partially walled (discouraging auto traffic). You can stroll the streets, stopping at the baker, greengrocer, or dairy. Local folks practice this, not as a daily chore, but rather as a way of catching up on local happenings, chatting as they go. The resulting rural pace and friendliness of the town presents a stark and welcome contrast to the anonymous hurry of modern English urban life.

ONE THOUSAND YEARS OF HISTORY
          Rye is located on England’s county of East Sussex, which is on the English Channel directly north of France. It was in 1066 at nearby Hastings that William of Normandy's invaders overwhelmed English King Harold's tired army to make William the Norman conqueror of England. Some ninety years later, Rye — then a busy coastal harbor town — was made one of the Cinque (Five) Ports designated to help defend southern England against further invasions from France.

RYE LONGBOWMEN

Rye Longbowmen.

          Rye has important buildings: the impressive
medieval St. Mary’s Church; an Augustinian Friary (1379), now housing one of Rye’s celebrated potteries; the Lamb House, residence of Henry James when he wrote Turn of the Screw; and Ypres Tower (1249), a former fortress which now houses part of the town’s Rye Castle Museum. The Ypres Tower is a medieval fortress with views over Romney Marsh and Rye Bay. Over its long history it has been a fort, house, jail, and mortuary. The second part of Rye's museum, located on East Street, contains the majority of the museum's collection, including a wide range of items from Rye's past. Here you can see pottery from Rye, old military uniforms, tools, fashions, even Rye’s old fire engine.

Rye is known for its pottery, like this decorative and useful house number plaque by David Sharp Pottery.

          Narrow cobbled streets branch off Rye’s High Street and are lined with antique shops, potteries and art galleries. Rye Art Gallery comprises two historic buildings in the heart of old Rye: on Ockman Lane, and at 107 High Street. The buildings are linked by a lovely garden. Exhibitions in the gallery’s Easton Rooms feature contemporary art and crafts, especially representing work from southeastern England.

RYE IS KNOWN FOR ITS POTTERY, LIKE THIS DECORATIVE
AND USEFUL HOUSE NUMBER PLAQUE BY DAVID SHARP POTTERY.

THE 'PRETTIEST STREET IN ENGLAND'?
          Descending west from Henry James’s Lamb House is cobbled Mermaid Street, itself lined with Elizabethan houses and inns, and often called "the prettiest street in England". The street leads to what had been the thriving town harbor, before the River Rother silted up and the English coast moved two miles east of town at about the time of American independence.

          This change froze Rye in time, making it a charming time capsule that invites exploration. The buildings along Mermaid Street still have secret entrances to their cellars where smugglers did their nightly business. For a glimpse of these times and a good meal or quenching drink, stop at the half-timbered Mermaid Inn, once the hangout of local smugglers. Originally built in 1156, the Mermaid fell victim to a French invasion in the 14th century when most of Rye was burned to the ground.

Mermaid Street, Rye. Photo  Home At First.
MERMAID STREET, RYE
Photo HOME AT FIRST

          In 1420 the Mermaid Inn was rebuilt, and has
little changed in the six centuries since, remaining the principal inn of Rye. At that time, Mermaid Street had 20 feet of water at high tide, and there was room to moor 100 ships off Rye’s quay. Ships’ timbers and local Sussex oak beams were used in the Mermaid’s Tudor framework. Several fireplaces were carved from the stone ballast of French ships from the harbor. If you look closely at the fireplace in the main room of the Mermaid Inn, you will see a hidden staircase in the back of the hearth. This was the smugglers’ escape route for when the authorities came.

The Mermaid Inn, Rye.
THE TUDOR MERMAID INN, RYE

          Across from the Mermaid Inn is a Tudor house called "Robin Hill", described in the Beatrix Potter (of Peter Rabbit fame) book, Tale of the Faithful Dove, and in the old song, "There’s an old-fashioned house on an old-fashioned street." In the back garden of Robin Hill still grows a 450-year-old mulberry tree planted under orders of Queen Elizabeth I, who visited the town in 1573 and dubbed it "Rye Royal".

          At the bottom of Mermaid Street — on the no longer accurately named Strand Quay — one can visit

 

the Rye Town Model, a locally-produced multi-media

look at the history of Rye that helps you imagine the place surrounded by water long ago, with pirates and smugglers escaping with ease to the safety of the open sea.

GETTING TO RYE AND BACK FROM LONDON
          Rye is an easy day trip destination from
London by rail. Hourly trains from London’s Victoria Station connect via Ashford to reach Rye in two hours. Rye’s train station is less than 200 yards outside the town’s walled entrance. A return rail journey with a change at Hastings permits a different route back to London (Charing Cross Station). Connections at Hastings are usually about 30 minutes, but some are as close as 4 minutes. The last practical train back to London departs Rye via Hastings before 8PM.


You can stalk Rye and many other perfect English villages
from Home At First lodgings throughout England.
Our exclusive "Activities Guides" have hundreds
of pages of suggestions for things to see and
do when you travel with
Home At First to
:
ENGLAND.

HOME AT FIRST offers travel to six regions of England, five regions of Scotland,
4 regions of Ireland and 2 regions of Wales. You can have your own
cottage or apartment in the British Isles location of your dreams.
Minimum rental is one week, and you can mix and match
with other HOME AT FIRST  destinations:

SCOTLAND    ENGLAND     IRELAND      WALES

YOUR DREAM TRIP BEGINS BY CONTACTING
HOME AT FIRST