"RYE" Top 5 Page for this destination Rye by Acirfa

Rye Travel Guide: 94 reviews and 264 photos

Medievel Cinque Port

Test your knowledge: Can you name the other 5 original coastal towns that made up the cinque ports? (See answer below)

Rye began as a small fishing village that was almost completely surrounded by water and sat in the Manor of Rameslie, however, these days the sea lies approximately 3 Kilometers away from the land.

History tells us that the Manor of Rameslie was promised to the Abbey of Fécamp in Normandy by Ethelred and that when he died, his widow married King Canute, who handed over the Manor, which included Rye, to fulfill the promise made by Ethelred.

The town grew as a successful trading port.
In 1205, King John returned to Normandy and the area came under the rule of Fecamp until 1247 when Henry III restored order. The only piece of land that remained under the French rule was a place called Foreign Rye, it retains the name to this day. The English finally regained control during the Reformation.

Battles against the French
The French attacked Rye regularly, testing the defences and raiding the port. The Spanish too had a go at breaking down the defenses of the port in 1350, however, Edward III and his son, the Black Prince, defeated an armada of 40 vessels.

In 1377, Rye was nearly wiped out by fire that was brough about by the invasion of the French and at the same time the bells of St Mary's church were stolen.
The sailors of Rye and Winchelsea in 1378 set off to France on a revenge attack, along with their success they also located the stolen bells. They hung one of the bells in Watchbell Street to use as a warning when they were being attacked by the French and they also built the walls for fortification in 1380 along with four gates.

Cinque Port
Rye (along with Winchelsea) became one of the Cinque ports in the 13th century. This meant a quota of ships with sailors to each port provided safe harbour and in return for this duty, each town became exempt from taxes and custom duties, concessions and the right to hold judicial hearings were given The Cinque ports became wealthy, important economies and provided the basis for the British maritime strength and power.

Other Facts
During the 18th century Rye was a Smugglers cove. The smugglers used secret tunnels to sneak about in and the old vaulted cellers to store their loot.

Rye's is also famous for it's visiting authors which include Rudyard Kipling and HG Wells, not to mention Henry James, the American novelist, who lived in Lamb House.


Rye is a pretty village with a restful atmosphere. It sits on a hill, overlooking the River Rother and Romney Marsh.

The ambience is one of ancient times, with it's cobbled streets, quaint medieval (Tudor and Georgian) houses and church. It's a place to return to just for the rejuvenating experience it has on ones spirit.

Plenty to browse around, shops that feel they belong in the past, Inns and cafe's to eat in. Boats to see and even a guided walk around the smugglers hidey holes to experience.


Sandwich, Dover, Hythe, Romney and Hastings

Note: As Hastings silted up, Rye and Winchelsea (already attached to Hastings) were given the status of 'Ancient Towns' and virtually took over from the host town of Hastings.

  • Last visit to Rye: Oct 2006
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (3)

Comments (7)

  • unravelau's Profile Photo
    Oct 3, 2007 at 2:15 AM

    I am sure that vt meeting is possible every day.....it is just the real meetings that take a bit more organisation... Carole.

  • planxty's Profile Photo
    Jun 23, 2007 at 5:07 AM

    Hi Donna, great Rye page - I love that place, it is so quaint. Lovely photos, too. fergy.

  • TheView's Profile Photo
    Nov 17, 2006 at 2:26 AM

    Sure ... :-) If you and Poons don´t kill eachother it might be be nice traveling together ;-)

  • Oct 31, 2006 at 9:00 AM

    Hi Donna, very nice page about a very familiar town - great photos! (and it looks like you had good weather when you visited! :))

  • jo104's Profile Photo
    Oct 31, 2006 at 4:08 AM

    Very informative pages Donna!! nice pics as per usual

  • Rusket's Profile Photo
    Oct 29, 2006 at 10:17 PM

    Cute, little town :-) (How was the Wineroll, missed Elge?)

  • barkerclive's Profile Photo
    Oct 18, 2006 at 3:59 PM

    where did you find out all that info stuff? were you asking around while i was in the gents?


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