Flushing Inn

Flushing Inn

Why ‘Flushing’?

There are several theories as to the origin of the name. The most likely is that the street outside (Market Street) used to be known as ‘The Butchery’ and the old English word for a butcher was a “flesher”. The original Fleshers Inn, it is thought, became corrupted to Flushing Inn.

The Building

There are many ancient timber-framed building in Rye of particular historic interest and the Flushing Inn is certainly one of them. It stands at the corner of the former Pump Street (now part of Church Square) and Market Street. The original building of 1200-1230 was destroyed in the disastrous fire after the French attack in 1377 but the barrel-vaulted Norman cellar has survived and remained in use. The present building dates from the early 16th century. In 1850 the original Flushing Inn was divided into three properties but in 1994 it was restored to its original state.

Rye’s Most Popular Story

In 1742 the landlord of the Flushing was John Breads (Breeds) who also had a butcher’s shop in the yard of the Inn and is best remembered in Rye for ‘The Murder in the Churchyard”. In the most popular version of the story Breads bore a grudge against the Mayor, James Lamb, because he had fined him for selling short weight. One night he lay in wait for the mayor in the churchyard and when he saw the Mayor’s cloak approaching, stabbed the man wearing it–who turned out to be Lamb’s brother-in-law Alan Grebell. Grebell, a former Mayor, had borrowed the cloak to attend a shipboard function in the current Mayor’s place.

According to the popular story, Breads was heard shouting ‘Butchers should kill Lambs’. He was captured and tried–by James Lamb! He was convicted and hanged and because his crime was considered especially heinous, his corpse was gibbeted and left hanging in an iron cage for all to see. Local women stole bits of him for their potions, but the town still has the gibbet with his skull, a replica being on display at the Rye Heritage Centre.

A bit of research will reveal other versions of events — including the possibility that Breads was framed . . .  However, the most thorough and reliable account is that of Professor Paul Kleber Monod in his The Murder of Mr Grebell: madness and civility in an English town (Yale University Press 2003), available from the Museum.

The Tudor Fresco

There was an exciting discovery in 1905, behind panelling on the East wall of the older half of the building: Plaster work was uncovered which revealed a remarkable wall painting dating from the first part of the 16th century. It measures eighteen feet by seven feet. Probably the most important thing about it is the frieze with Tudor roses, the coat of arms of Jane Seymour dated 1537 and the Royal Arms of England ‘King Edward VI 1547′. It has been described as ‘one of the best preserved Tudor domestic wall paintings in southern England’. The painting was damaged during World War II but was renovated in 1997 and is in a good state of preservation.

After 50 years as a family-run restaurant under the same ownership the Flushing became a private house in 2010. It will be missed as an Inn by those who know Rye but is in good hands.

With acknowledgements to the Mann/Flynn family of The Flushing Inn 1960 – 2010  and to Wayne Jones.

First posted in Rye Buildings and Defences on 20th September 2010
Last updated: 21st January 2013
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