How to spend one day in Rye, East Sussex


The foreword…


A little guide to the adorable and quaint town of Rye in East Sussex – I’ll be listing the places we ate in, drank in and spent time in. Honestly, it’s not too hard to have an amazing time in Rye as basically every little street you turn to looks like it could be straight out of a postcard. But hopefully this little guide will give you an idea where to start, or at least inspire you travel to this lovely little place if you haven’t thought about it before!


Let’s get started…



What to do in Rye – tourist attractions and lots of history


Rye Castle (Ypres Tower) – A medieval castle mostly known as Ypres Tower was most likely built as a part of a royal castle around 1230-1250, but unfortunately no one is sure of an exact date. The castle is open throughout the year (excluding Christmas) and admission only costs £4.00 for an adult. We didn’t have a chance to visit but if I ever go to Rye again this is definitely at the top of my list!


The historical Mermaid Street – Mermaid Street is probably the most famous street in Rye and for a good reason – it’s very picturesque! It’s filled with gorgeous old houses with quirky names such as ‘The House Opposite’, ‘The House with Two Front Doors’ and ‘The House with the Seat’ and it’s incredibly easy on the eye. It’s also acknowledged as one of the ‘prettiest streets in Britain’ in this article by The Telegraph.



Book lovers Rye – what to do and where to go?


Rye has quite a few literary connections – most famously it’s known for the E.F. Benson book Mapp and Lucia, which takes place in a fictional town based on Rye, as well as the house of Henry James, where he wrote many of his famous novels (as you can see from the plaque below!).


Locations of Mapp and Lucia – I haven’t personally read this book but according to my research, there’s lots of locations around Rye that are mentioned in the book (even though the town in the book is called ‘Tilling’). There’s also a BBC miniseries based on the book which has been filmed on location in Rye and is definitely on my to-watch list now after visiting the town myself! Here’s a handy little guide to finding all the locations mentioned in the book.


The Lamb House – If you enjoy history and visiting old buildings from town houses to castles, you’ll love The Lamb House in Rye! Known mainly for being the home of Henry James and the above mentioned E.F. Benson, The Lamb House is a beautiful and well preserved Georgian house with gorgeous rooms and a very pretty garden, as well as lots of information on its former residents.



Where to eat and drink in Rye?


The Mermaid Inn – I’ve visited a lot of pubs that claim to be the ‘oldest in the UK’ or at least their local area, but I’ve never felt the history as much as I did in the Mermaid Inn in Rye. It truly was like stepping back in time, and I almost felt bad taking photos or using any kind of technology inside – it just didn’t feel right! I felt like I’d been transported back in time. According to the Mermaid Inn’s website, the cellars of the pub date all the way back to 1156 and the main building to 1420 when it was rebuilt. Definitely one not to be missed.


The Ship Inn – Another beautiful pub (there’s plenty of those to go around in Rye!), though not quite so old. This ones treads the line of cosy and modern perfectly, and has a lovely rustic feel to it. The food’s not typical pub grub either (even though there’s nothing wrong with that, either!) – I’d say it’s more gastropub-y, but with an approachable and friendly atmosphere. I’ve written more about the food and drink at The Ship Inn previously so please have a read if you want to lust over yummy food and local drinks.


We didn’t have time to visit other places, but ones I’ve heard recommended or personally liked the look of were Knoops for apparently ‘the best hot chocolate ever’ (so says my boss and the internet seems to agree!), The Ypres Castle Inn for a big and beautiful beer garden just by the castle and The Globe Inn Marsh for a quirky and colourful atmosphere.



To get to Rye from London or Brighton, you will need to take two trains – from London the journey takes about 1 h 10 min and from Brighton about 1h 45 minutes (slightly ironic as Brighton is actually a lot closer…)