• Ypres Tower Today (C. Sawyer)

    Ypres Tower Today (C. Sawyer)

  • View from St Mary’s  (Clive Sawyer)

    View from St Mary’s (Clive Sawyer)

  • Medieval Garden

    Medieval Garden

  • Ypres cell (Clive Sawyer)

    Ypres cell (Clive Sawyer)

  • Smuggler’s lamp (Clive Sawyer)

    Smuggler’s lamp (Clive Sawyer)

  • Ypres Pottery Case

    Ypres Pottery Case

  • Helmets and Costumes

    Helmets and Costumes

  • Ypres Tower  (Clive Sawyer)

    Ypres Tower (Clive Sawyer)

Ypres Tower

Scroll down for a map.

For views from the Tower balcony click here.

Open Times and Prices

Open 7 days a week (weather permitting ) throughout the year  except on 24th and 25th December.

March 30 – October 31:   10:30 – 5:00,  last admission 4:30

November 1 – March 29:  10:30 am – 3:30  Last admission 3:00 pm

Admission to the Tower: Adults  £4.00, Concessions (Over 65’s): £3.00
Children under 16 free but must be  accompanied by an adult.

There are special rates for groups.  Please ring 01797-226728 or email info@ryemuseum.co.uk to arrange a group visit.

The Tower was built before modern Health & Safety requirements so there is no lift, steep steps and a number of low doorways.  The spiral staircase has steps with uneven treads. Visitors who do not wish to climb the stairs of our Ancient Monument need no longer miss out on anything thanks to our newly installed Virtual Tour.  In fact,  our current able-bodied visitors are enjoying it too!

Please find our Access information here: Access Statement 19092017

About the Ypres Tower
(Click on Ypres Tower Posts at right for The Story of Ypres Castle and other articles )

The Ypres Tower is thought to have been built  in the early 14th century as part of the town’s defences and is the second oldest building open to the public in Rye.  (The oldest is St Mary’s church.)

The Tower has had a chequered history  and as you look round the inside you can see some of  those changes in the blocked windows and doorways.

From the balcony you can look over what was once one of the largest and most important harbours in the country. In the C16th it was England’s seventh busiest port; now there is farmland where once there was sea.   There are good views from the balcony in all directions, and guides to tell you what you are seeing.

In the Tower are various exhibits.  The newest is a replica of the gibbet with skull of John Breads whose story is told  here.  Other recent additions are a new model of the changes in the local shoreline and the Ypres Tower Embroidery,  created by a team of stitchers over a period of several years and depicting the Tower’s roles through nine centuries of history — as defence, private home, prison, mortuary, museum . . . .

What it must have been like to stay in a dark cell with only bread and beer for sustenance is hard to imagine.  Would you like to spend your life here? Another cell is now a Still Room showing the uses made of  herbs and other plants now being grown  in the Tower’s Medieval Garden. Thanks to Lin Saines for the display.

Ypres Pottery CaseIn still another cell there is medieval pottery made in Rye, which was very fine in comparison with pottery of a similar date made elsewhere.

This probably reflects the prosperity of the town and also the skills brought from France, when the town was part of the lands belonging to the Abbey of Fecamp in Normandy.

Smuggler's Lamp (Clive Sawyer)

Among the Tower’s specially prized objects  is  a very rare smuggler’s spout lantern, which allowed smugglers to signal to ships, without being seen by the Excisemen ashore.

Ypres - New Model ShorelineUp the winding and deliberately uneven stairs to the first floor you will find a brand new  relief model  which shows the development of the coastline over the last thousand years and how the Romans were able to sail over the area now known as the Romney Marsh at high tide and how, by Elizabethan times, the navigable area was far smaller and limited to Rye.
There are buttons to push so you can see how the shoreline has changed over the years.   ompare what you have learned from the model with the views from the balcony today.  
Nearby is a fascinating map showing the southeast shoreline dense with shipwrecks.  There wasn’t room to name them all!
For younger visitors there are also feely socks — what is inside?– and various other games and puzzles to try–especially the popular Captain Pugwash Treasure Hunt (there is another of these at the East Street site) .
The  exhibitions in the basement  appeal to children of all ages:  There are examples of swords, armour and chainmail to view and also helmets and costumes you can wear and then be photographed if you or your parents have a camera with you.  You can access more photos from Ypres Tower posts at right.

The ground floor of the Tower has now been made accessible to those with a physical disability, but unfortunately the ancient nature of the building means that the basement and first floor are not accessible to those who find stairs difficult.

Outside there is normally a re-creation of a medieval herb garden in what was the exercise yard with, on some days,  a gardener in medieval costume to show you around.    The garden can also be viewed from the balcony.  The plants there are ones medieval ladies would have grown and then taken to the Still Room where they would be dried and prepared for  for  medicinal, culinary and laundry  purposes.