• It was All About the Sea

    It was All About the Sea

  • What do you know of Rye Mosaics?

    What do you know of Rye Mosaics?

  • WACOR Videos

    WACOR Videos

  • Santa’s Grotto at the Museum

    Santa’s Grotto at the Museum

  • Art, Poetry, Music of WWI

    Art, Poetry, Music of WWI

  • Winchelsea Corporation and  the Court Hall Museum

    Winchelsea Corporation and the Court Hall Museum

  • Norman and Medieval Times: 1066-1485

    Norman and Medieval Times: 1066-1485


Welcome to the Rye Museum website!  There is lots to explore.  Click on a slideshow photo or the photos in the other boxes to see the whole article.       Click on a topic at right for a choice of articles in that category. For other tips on using the site click  here.   For other current news keep scrolling down.

The New Year at the Museum

Besides the Events box at right which will tell you about the next talk, click on  Events Jan-March under Top Picks Rye Museum  to find out who else will be talking about what at East Street during the coming year.   Much else is planned, of course:  coffee mornings, more children’s activity days, special exhibitions . . . Watch this space!  And in the meantime if you have somehow not got yourself to the Ypres Tower (and the Women’s Tower) lately, do go.  It is open every day and there have been many additions and improvements over the past months.

East Street will start opening at weekends again soon and we plan to build on the great success of last year’s April – October season when, thanks to a stop-and-look banner and FREE admission — and wonderful volunteer stewards — we attracted over 8000 visitors to our second site!  That meant  a whopping increase in visitor numbers over the same period last year of over 605%!

Coming Events      

Save the dates.  Details to follow

Coffee Morning and Launch of the Summer Season
Saturday 28 March  10:30 East Street Museum

Come to East Street for refreshments on March 28th and to celebrate the reopening for this site at weekends.  While the Ypres Tower is of course open every day of the year, East Street has not been open over the winter except for events, but from this day it will again welcome visitors on Saturdays and Sundays — and on three days of  Easter weekend (April 3-5)

Show and Tell
Wednesday 28th April 2:00  East Street Museum

These sessions have proved very popular.  The Curator selects one item from the Museum’s collection  (e.g. a bed-warmer) and some of those who come bring curious items from the past from their own homes for us to puzzle over and learn about.

Tuesday, 28th July East Street Museum  6:30 p.m.

Garden Party
Saturday, 18th July, 11 High Street

Rae Festing is again making her beautiful garden available to us for our annual Garden event

WACOR Project Videos

If you didn’t click on the Slideshow photo above of some of the children featured in the video series, do so now to see any or all of the four YouTube products of the very successful WACOR Project.  So many more people of all ages have become acquainted with the Museum and what it offers,  and learned a great deal about Rye while having a great deal of fun.  Many thanks to all those who took part and supported!


Banner 2 - sBanner 1 - sIndeed  the distinguished speakers and the many participants from throughout Britain did make for a most stimulating  Medieval Conference at the Milligan Theatre, Rye College on Saturday October 18th.

This year’s theme was The Hazards of Life and Causes of Death in Late Medieval England.   We all learned much and several myths about health hygiene during the period were demolished.  [Do you think our problems are new?  Ray Prewer  compares Then and Now in a makes-you-smile-and-think piece on the Conference in RyeNews.  Click for it here.]

(Click to enlarge photos.)

James lecture - 1Professors from the Universities of Cambridge, East Anglia, Winchester and University College London  presented on such topics as

  • ‘Poky pigges and stynkynge makerels': Food Standards and Urban Health in Late Medieval England
  • An Archaeology of Disease: Leprosy and Leprosaria  in Medieval England
  •    The Black Death|: Fact or Fiction?
  •  Growing Pains: Adolescent Life Experiences and Expectancy of Medieval Scholars
  • The Incidence  of Accidents. Broken Bones and Death by Misadventure in the Proofs of Age

James lecture - 2Rye Museum is most grateful to the Rye Academy Trust, the Rye Fund and Entertainment Workshops Rye for their support for this event and also to  Jordan Seabrook, a student at Rye Studio School, for designing the publicity poster and students of both Rye College and the Studio School for their assistance at the event.



How much do you know about Medieval Rye?

Strandgate 1784In addition to a two week exhibition of Rye’s medieval French Connection (see below) during the Rye Arts Festival,  two Medieval Rye walks were offered by our Rye Museum Association chairman, Jo Kirkham,

Her  tours concentrated  on the Strand Quay, Mermaid Street (once guarded by a long arcaded stone gate at the bottom, facing the Mint), a now gone Queen’s Arms behind the facades of what we know as West Street, the Churchyard (aka God’s Acre), the Ypres Tower (begun 1249) and Market Street (the market once extended all the way through to the present top of Mermaid Street).

Missed the walk? You can still learn a lot from Jo Kirkham’s article on Norman and Medieval Times: 1066-1489, available from the slideshow above. It provides details of the medieval period in chronological order and is highly recommended . Some supplementary information, much of it deriving from things Jo told us on the walk is available here.

Special Exhibitions

Rye Museum is working on new exhibitions on both sites.  All those visitors coming to Rye in the wake of BBC1’s showing of Mapp and Lucia
will want to know more about its making, for example.   The French Connection, a collection of Rye-owned maps , manuscripts and artefacts dating from the time when Rye was held from the King by the Abbey of Fecamp in Normandy, formed a most successful and much-visited exhibition at the Rye Museum during the 2014 Rye Arts Festival. The 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo offers an ideal subject for a special display during this year’s Festival.  Watch this space!.

Brian Hargreaves: His Life and Work

Were you fortunate enough to see the outstanding work of Brian and Joyce Hargreaves at the recent Rye Art Gallery exhibition?  Even if you were not, a write-up of Brian’s work which accompanied the exhibition should be of interest as the Hargreaves together have done so much for the Museum — as Joyce continues to do.  Click here  (or on Brian Hargreaves under Local History at right).


Not been to the Ypres Tower lately?   It’s certainly time to go again!

While we await the Go-Ahead for our plans for development at the Ypres Tower  so that we can have everything on one site, we urge you to revisit it as it has been transformed during the past year and the feedback from visitors is glowing!  In the main tower there’s  the wonderful new Virtual Tour  and the skeleton of  John Breads in the very  cell where he awaited his fate.  Kids love it! and John Ryan’s book Murder in the Churchyard  is on sale at the Tower.  And in the newly opened Women’s Tower with its Audio-Visual display you can  learn about life as a woman prisoner nearly two centuries ago.  You can find out more about these attractions elsewhere on this site.

There are LOTS of other additions and improvements at the Tower:  new furniture and display panels, smartened-up exhibits, better lighting, a new model of the changing shoreline . . . .

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.

Marsh Panorama

Virtual Tour of Romantic Rye

Move around Rye without leaving your chair. courtesy Visit Rye Bay.   To go directly to the video click here. Mercifully free of chatter,  it will lead you up and down the streets, zooming in on houses, buildings, views. . .   If you’ve been to Rye can you recall where all these places are?  If you’ve not, we encourage you to come and tour the town for real.