• Women at Smallhythe in the Struggle for the Vote

    Women at Smallhythe in the Struggle for the Vote

  • Last Chance to See the Rosetta Stone Cast!

    Last Chance to See the Rosetta Stone Cast!

  • The Rye Castle Museum Story

    The Rye Castle Museum Story

  • Teddy Bears’ Picnic

    Teddy Bears’ Picnic

  • Happy Birthday To Us!

    Happy Birthday To Us!

  • Liberty, Equality, Fraternity

    Liberty, Equality, Fraternity

  • Beauty, Sadness and some Lively Morris Dancing

    Beauty, Sadness and some Lively Morris Dancing



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.  And within an article, click on a photo to enlarge it.
  • Click here for a quick video introduction to our Museum.  Many thanks to Dilys Mayor for the script and to staff and students at Rye Studio School for the filming and narration.
  • Click on a topic at right for a choice of articles in that category.
  • For other tips on using the site click  here.

Next at East Street – Children’s Craft Afternoon, Egyptian style

At the start of Half Term holiday there will be another children’s craft afternoon at East Street Museum starting at 2 pm.  Children will be able to make Egyptian themed crafts. 

The cost is only £2 per child with an accompanying adult. Look out for the posters. 

Rye Museum thanks the Rye and Winchelsea Rotary Club for sponsoring this event — and the December one as well!  

Children — and their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles ….. certainly enjoy these afternoons when there are things to make and do.   Joining in the fun at our last such day were 29 children and 37 adults!  If you would like to join the team of helpers for this next event, please let us know! 

Come to East Street to see (an excellent cast of) the Rosetta Stone!

 Still on display until the end of October is one of the best tributes to the status of our Museum that anyone could wish for. The British Museum’s cast of the Rosetta Stone has been a great hit at East Street. Attendance has been consistently high on regular open days and we have held special morning showings for many of our local schools. Sadly, we have to give it back! When the East Street Museum closes at the end of October, the British Museum will crate it up and carry it away. That’s two more weekends to see this iconic object up close.

The original stone was brought to England in 1802 and the story of the deciphering of this iconic object in the ensuing decades is an exciting and important one. We will be open every day during the Rye Festival (subject to volunteers) and then at weekends until the end of October. Then, sadly, the cast will go back to the British Museum.

Make some time to visit/revisit the Ypres Tower!

Besides the splendid suit of armour on the ground floor there are so many new things to see, read and enjoy upstairs.  For starters:

  • Learn a bit about the many types of boat which once came into Rye.  Would you recognise a Top Sail Schooner Yacht, a Brigantine, a  Cutter, a Lugger or a Hoy if you saw one, and know what it carried? 
  • Why were rolling pins, scrimshaws and quadrants on Rye’s ships? 
  • What did coopers do and how many types of cask were there besides barrels? 
  • Have you ever seen the map of shipwrecks off the Sussex and Kent coasts – there were hundreds of them! 
  •  What was special about a smuggler’s lamp?
  •  Have you ever seen a blunderbuss? Like the one dating from about 1750 which used to be kept over the fireplace of Old Rye Bank to strike terror into smuggler thieves?
  • Have you any idea of the range of things that were smuggled?  Or why the customs authorities had to try so hard to attract informers with promises of money and pardons? There are drawers with examples for you to see and touch in the cell devoted to Smuggling – and 14 very informative pages on smuggling for you to look at if you want to know more.  
  • Would you like to hear some sea shanties or smuggling stories?  There are 8 choices on the audio in the Smugglers tower.  Dilys Mayors’ reading of Kipling’s Smuggler’s Song  has been a big hit.  

There is much more to see and do during your visit(s) to this floor. Certainly you’ll want  to go outside for the great views, and light up parts of the map of the area around Rye, and then of course there are the two lower floors. . . . .

Treats in store!  And you’ll understand why recent visitors — from many counties and countries — have been saying such complimentary things about our exhibits.

90th Birthday Commemorative Tile

As part of the Museum’s 90th Birthday Celebration, the Museum commissioned an exclusive ceramic tile from Rye Pottery. The tiles are 6″ square and picture the Castle in blue, with Rye Pottery’s traditional decorative corners. We have an initial order of 50, numbered and presented in an attractive box, that we are offering to the membership before we put them on sale in the Museum. The price is £15 per tile. They can be ordered from the office and picked up either at the office (weekday mornings) or the Museum (weekends).

A Record Year for Visitor Numbers!

In August alone the Ypres Tower – which is open every day — welcomed close to 4500 visitors, nearly 1/3 of whom were children.  Those who came left comments in the Visitors Books to make us proud.   One of the most frequent comments is:  ‘Excellent value for money!’ – and we’ll be telling you soon some of their reasons for saying so.

Although the East Street site is open to visitors only at the weekends it too can claim record numbers and comments to make us proud.  In August our free site welcomed approximately 1650 adults and 1035 children. (Over the season it has recorded nearly a hundred canine visitors too!)  Its Visitors Book has also attracted comments we want to share with you soon. 

The Museum can benefit from Amazon and Easy Fundraising

Have you used either of these yet? 

The Museum is now an Amazon Affiliate. This means that whenever you shop at Amazon, no matter what you buy, the Museum can receive a percentage of the total at no extra cost to you. To take advantage, start your shopping trip by visiting our website, and clicking on the Amazon search box in the upper right sidebar (if you don’t see the Amazon box, please disable your ad blocker for our page). 

We have signed up to a similar programme called Easy Fundraising that applies to shopping sites all over the internet. Click this link, sign up, designate Rye Museum as your preferred charity, and we will automatically get a portion of the money you spend whenever you use that browser. A list of participating stores is on the site – it’s most impressive!

Call for Volunteers

The 2018 season at East Street began with the highest number of visitors ever at that site as well as at the Ypres Tower  (which is open every day all year).   We are very grateful to the volunteers who man the desk at East Street and give lunchtime relief to the guides at the Tower.   Our volunteers  seem to enjoy meeting our visitors who come from all parts of the UK and many different countries and we certainly get appreciative reports from visitors.  We will be needing extra volunteers for the entire Rye Festival period (September 15-30) and extending opening hours on other special days (e.g. school holidays) this year, so we could certainly use more volunteers to take a turn or two at the desk each month.    Do let the office know if you would like to join the band of volunteers!

Museum Hours

The East Street Museum is open each weekend (and perhaps also on Bank Holidays, if we can recruit enough volunteers) until the end of October, from 10:30 until 5:00.

The Rye Castle/Ypres Tower is open every day, as usual from 10:30 – 5:00,  last admission 4:30

ryeinthetwentiesRye Royale in the Nineteen Twenties by Jo Kirkham
The latest Rye Museum publication 

While Jo Kirkham’srecent talk at the Museum, The Story of Rye Royale, presented highlights of Rye’s centuries-long story of its connections to the Crown, this book,  Rye Royale in the Nineteen Twenties, is specifically about a particular period, featured in one of the most recently mounted exhibits at the East Street museum. The exhibit and the book are in honour of Her Majesty the Queen’s ninetieth birthday and present Rye as it was in the decade of her birth: the people and events, the industries and entertainments the shops, schools, hospitals, courts and theatres.   The illustrated 54 page book costs £5 and is available at the Museum.



Trip Advisor Recommendations

There are lots of compliments for our Ypres Tower site on Trip Advisor.  You can see them here.  Our only ‘bad’ report, spoiling our near perfect score, seems to have come about because a visitor who had just had a maddening time trying to find a parking space in Rye  was looking for someone to blame their parking problems on! (They made no comment about the museum itself.)

Yes, we’re Still Breaking Records!

Over the past year we continued to welcome record numbers of visitors both at the Tower and at East Street, up from last year, which is such good news for a museum that is entirely independent, relying for income on an admission charge at the Tower and donations at East Street.  

At the Tower, which is open every day of the year and continues to be a major Rye attraction, there have been as many as 600+ visitors in a single day!  There are LOTS of additions and improvements at the Tower:  new furniture and display panels, smartened-up exhibits, better lighting, a new model of the changing shoreline . . . .   Thanks to a stop-and-look banner and FREE admission — and wonderful volunteer stewards — we attracted thousands of visitors to our second site on East Street, during the summer season.   

If you would like to join our  band of volunteer stewards do let us know.  It’s fun and rewarding and a chance to meet interesting people.

Virtual Tour of Romantic Rye

Move around Rye without leaving your chair courtesy of 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.

When you are at the Tower, 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