Local History Group

 Researching Rye’s History

In the 1980′s, several members of the Rye Museum Association saw the need for a group interested in researching Rye’s history, and eventually, in 1984, an independent group was set up. Alan Dickinson was the first Chairman of sixteen Founder Members of the Rye Local History Group, which aimed to research and record information, and hold monthly meetings with lectures and discussions, in Rye Library.

With a new Chairman, Eric Wetherill from 1992, the membership grew apace, needing steadily larger premises. Outside visits and a regular Newsletter were developed. A specially commissioned Rye Pottery mug was made available to members in 1994, to mark the Group’s first ten years.

The Group was authorised by the County Archaeologist to to observe and record archaeological and historical aspects of excavations in Rye. 1994 saw Group members working in this way on the Hospital site on Rye Hill, and in 1996 the Group ran its own Archaeological ‘Dig’ in the centre of Rye.

An Index of Holloway’s Antiquities of Rye (1994) and an illustrated book of the monumental inscriptions throughout Rye Cemetery (1996) were published, having been researched in detail by Group members.  [This has just been revised and will be available from the Museum. Ed.]

Much material of historical interest has been given to the Group for preservation and research over the years, and we are grateful to Rye Library for storing mucjh of it for a number or years so it could be available to researchers.  Progress in organisation and growth to 100 members continued for the society which took pride in its reputation as a friendly group.

Jo Kirkham, Chairman of the Rye Museum Board of Directors was a recent Chairman. She was succeeded by Brian Hargreaves who, with his wife Joyce, produced the excellent Newsletter until December 2004. It was then decided to amalgamate with the Rye Museum Association. Local history research continues, and the former Newsletter became the Rye Museum and Local History Group Journal in January 2005. It was  produced regularly by Brian and Joyce Hargeaves until Brian’s untimely death early in 2012, when Joyce kindly agreed to continue this excellent service for the Museum.

Other Local History projects

More recently Rosalind Collier organised a group of enthusiasts interested in various aspects of Victorian Rye who undertook a number of projects.  Unfortunately her serious illness means the group no longer meets, but work  by individuals continues and we hope to see some of the results in print soon.

One of our new Directors, Jeanette Denereaz, has taken on the role of Family History co-ordinator as we receive many requests from family and descendants of former Rye residents.  The intention is to build up an accessible database of information in this category.  The Local History article on St Antony of Padua and the Sedley family is one example of a contribution.

Updated 27 November 2012 from an article by Jo Kirkham in Rye Millennium

First posted in Local History Research on 26th October 2010
Last updated: 1st December 2012