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The East Street Museum will reopen on Saturday April 1st!
And soon Director John Lanigan will be recruiting volunteers for the new season! Those who have given up half a day on a Saturday or Sunday (or two) per month in the past to greet visitors to East Street will vouch for it being an interesting job with a chance to meet interesting (and interested) people and learn more about your town for yourself. The East Street Museum will of course continue to be available for group bookings (such as school visits) and special events — talks, coffee mornings, children’s activity days and the like (and we always need people to help on these occasions too). Ring 01797-226728 for more information.
Meanwhile remember that the Ypres Tower is open every day!
Groups wishing to visit the East Street Museum may book to do so. Groups of over 8 persons have a special rate and it is possible to arrange for a guide or a talk on a particular subject. The Museum Education Team can arrange special class visits for various curriculum subjects.
For further details please contact the Museum on 01797 226728 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
What you will find at the East Street Museum
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The Museum at 3 East Street is the main exhibition area for Museum artifacts illustrating different aspects of Rye’s history. This building was once a butchery and then a bottling factory for the local brewery, and it was attached to the shop that is now Help the Aged, in the High Street. The Museum bought the old bottling factory in 1995 and with the help of a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, converted it into a Museum in 1998/9, opening it to the public at Easter 1999.
The long entrance to the Museum features not only our second hand bookstall but a pair of ever-so-high stilts used in hop picking, objects from Rye potteries, a vegetable garden and a series of displays on Rye fishing.
With its leather hoses and battered lead-lined water buckets, it is quite complete. Originally it was on a sledge, which enabled it to travel more quickly over the cobbled streets, but it needed a team of strong men to pull it along as it weighs about 56 cwt (2.8 Imperial tons or 2.845 Kg).
Another especially popular exhibit is the penny farthing , the first machine to be called a bicycle. Can you imagine getting on it and off it, and riding it over Rye’s cobbles?
- There is another display on the changes to the coastline over the last thousand years and how this has affected Rye, bringing prosperity and then taking it away. The retreat of the sea, the silt brought down by the rivers, the changes in trade and size of ships all caused the harbour and its trade to decline from the Elizabethan high point.
This display also looks at the project known as the Western Solution, or Smeaton’s Harbour, which was supposed to revive the fortunes of the harbour by taking it to what is now Winchelsea Beach, and how after almost sixty years of work, it failed within six months. The remains are just about still visible at Winchelsea Beach today.
Fortunately, Rye’s shipbuilding industry did revive to thrive between about 1840 and 1918. In other displays you can see many of the tools used and models of ships built such as the handsome clipper schooner Marian Zagury built in 1843 for the fruit trade. . There are several paintings showing the changes in Rye, its rivers and harbour over the past few centuries.
- Younger visitors always enjoy the Captain Pugwash Treasure Hunt as well as the Captain Pugwash display. A prize is given each month to the young contestant who has followed the Treasure Hunt clues most successfully. Thanks to creator John Ryan’s wife and daughter this exhibit was expanded in time for the 2010 season and has proved very popular. .
The Museum also has exhibits of toys and games which grandparents and great-grandparents remember from their childhoods as well as some furniture and equipment from bygone nurseries–such as the Georgian Horse.
As for education in Rye, there are photos and even old exam papers. Could you answer the questions?
- Rye Museum is the proud owner of seals from the days of Queen Mary (just acquired), Queen Elizabeth I, the Commonwealth(Oliver Cromwell) and Queen Victoria, another whole case is devoted to Victorian Rye and still another to the Jubilee celebrations in Rye for both Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II. See how much has changed in the last 150 years!
Many of our visitors are especially interested in the wooden mosaic pieces, the tobacco pipes and the various kinds of pottery made in Rye for which the town was famous. The Sussex pigs that ‘won’t be druv’ are an example. Even quite recently excavations and building work have unearthed new finds. In addition to the displays on this site, some older pottery finds are on display in a cell of the Tower.
There are several guide/quiz sheets available to help you discover things you might otherwise miss at our East Street site. Ask for them at the desk.