Day trip to Rye
One of our favourite day trips out of London is to Rye in East Sussex. Just an hour and a half by rail from Kings Cross St Pancras, the historic town offers a wonderful glimpse of Tudor England and a tantalising taste of the British seaside.
Perched on the slopes of a hillside that lead down to the harbour, the quintessentially British town was once vital to England’s defence. You can still see evidence of this in the form of Ypres Tower which, built in 1249, has at various times been a fort, a prison and now houses part of the Rye Museum. The Tower has a cannon-lined terrace and views across Rye Harbour and the flat landscape of Romney Marsh.
For more stunning views of the town and surrounding area, climb to the top of the tower of St Mary’s Parish Church. Wandering away from the church, along a flower-filled cobbled lane, you reach Church Square where some of the town’s most characterful houses overlook the churchyard.
The Georgian-fronted Lamb House on Church Square is the former home of the author Henry James. He stayed here until his death in 1916. The National Trust owned house has a wonderful walled garden with a pond, roses, lilies and spring bulbs – in addition to the graves of the author’s dogs. Check opening times for visitors.
Visit Mermaid Street, where medieval timber-framed buildings and elegant Georgian houses overlook the town’s most picturesque cobbled street. Stop for a drink at the Mermaid Inn, an old smugglers’ inn which was rebuilt in 1420. Have fun reading the names of the cottages that line the street!
Choose between a fish and chips lunch or a traditional English afternoon tea. The fish is fabulously fresh but there are also numerous coffee shops and afternoon tea places including Cobbles Tea Room. The perfect choice for traditional tea and scones!
Rye is well-known for its antique shops. Music fans will love Grammar School Records, one of the UK’s leading independent record shops. This is situated in the historic Thomas Peacocke grammar school building which dates back to 1636.
If you have time to explore beyond Rye, Henry VIII’s Camber Castle is around one mile from the town centre. Want to feel the sand between your toes? Head for Camber Sands beach, accessible via a footpath through fields filled with grazing sheep. It takes around an hour and although there are buses, these can be sporadic.
What’s on in Rye? Visit between February 22-1 March 2020 when the town celebrates the 18th Rye Bay Scallop Week. Enjoy tasting events, cookery demos and scallop menus in many of the restaurants.