• The Journey to the South Downs National Park

    The Journey to the South Downs National Park

  • Tales of Rye Foreign

    Tales of Rye Foreign

  • The Wrong Sex

    The Wrong Sex

  • The Men Who Built the Cathedals

    The Men Who Built the Cathedals

  • Mummy Makers at the Museum

    Mummy Makers at the Museum

  • 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!


Welcome to the Rye Museum website! 

Good News! 

  1.  There is lots that’s new up the stairs at the Museum.  if you’ve not been in the  last week, it will be well worth making another visit now!
  2. A team is busy redesigning and upgrading our website  at present making lots of improvements and the new version will be uploaded soon!   

Meanwhile for information on events coming soon we recommend yu click on Coming Events at right. You can also click on this link: RyeNews  — to read an article on the Museum’s Coming Events written by Heather Stevenson for  the Living section of the paper.   If you aren’t already a regular reader of this local online paper you’ll no doubt find further reasons to become one while on the site .


  • 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.

The Ypres Tower is open daily throughout the year — and continues to welcome record numbers of visitors. The East Street Museum has also had high numbers recently. 

Make some time to revisit the Ypres Tower!

There is new lighting!  Thanks to a grant from Little Cheyne Court Wind Farm Community Fund, we’ve had the electrics refurbished in the Ypres Tower. New lighting, new heating units. If you have guests for the holidays, do bring them in to see Rye Castle looking its best. 

And besides the splendid suit of armour on the ground floor there are so many new things to see, read and enjoy upstairs.   Do make another visit and see for yourself!

If you’ve never seen a blunderbuss, here’s your chance:  

Some Ryers were sad to see the Rye branch of Lloyd’s bank empty their iconic building on the High Street last month. Thanks to one of our members, whose family had been involved with early ownership of the “Old Rye Bank”, we were told that the blunderbuss — once kept on the bank wall over the fireplace to strike terror into smuggler thieves was still there. It dates from about 1750.  We approached the Archivist of Lloyd’s and were able to secure it on a long-term loan for Rye Museum. Do come and see it in one of the new showcases on the first floor of the Ypres Tower.  

Here is a starter list of other things to find out about on a visit to the Tower:

  • 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 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 also 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.

The East Street site can also claim record numbers to make us proud during its summer opening season.  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.  It would be good to have more names on our list of regulars willing to take a turn or two at the desk each month. And there are times when we need extra volunteers (e.g. for the entire Rye Festival period in September) and for extended opening hours on other special days (e.g. school holidays)      Do let the office know if you would like to join the band of volunteers!

Museum Hours

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

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


ryeinthetwentiesRye Royale in the Nineteen Twenties by Jo Kirkham
A recent 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. 

Marsh Panorama