In between changing my jobs, I had a couple of days off to pretty much do anything I liked. I didn’t have a plan for once (SHOCK,HORROR!), so I decided to try somewhere I hadn’t been before – Rye, East Sussex. I’d done a little bit of reading about this charming town and managed to find a guide about the must-sees, so off I went!
First stop was Rye Castle. Definitely not the biggest I’d seen, it was still one of the cutest buildings I’d ever visited, if a castle can be cute!? The Ypres Tower, as it’s known was built in 1929 to defend Rye against attacks from across the channel. Since then, it’s been a fort, prison, court hall and now it’s a museum! As I ventured through the castle, you can see where prisoners were incarcerated and held in their cells, smuggler’s lantern and a pretty good model that shows the coastline defence. A bit dry if you don’t enjoy history but the view from the balcony looks out across the marsh and was once one of the most important harbours in the country. Beautiful stuff.
For me, the best part was walking around up by the church, you get a real sense of the historic community with the tiny white and black houses with their miniature doors. It shows just how much generations have grown and what’s more is nothing has been touched. It all looks incredibly authentic and is a joy to photograph, even on the cobble roads!
Once I’d had my fill of the historic route around Rye, it led me down to the Quay where there was a selection of vintage and antique shops. The first I visited was The QuaySide Antiques and Collectables, inside was a range of 1950/1960s toys, one-off pieces of furniture, glass milk bottles upon milk bottles, colourful dress jewellery dating back to the 1930s and pin badges from all kinds of organisations, like the Scouts. Unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to take any photos but this emporium was a real gem. A lot like a couple of antique shops in Lewes.
Then I headed into Vintage Kitchen and wanted to buy EVERYTHING. Forgot Cath Kidston, you don’t need it when you have the real thing from here and at fair prices. I made a mental list of all the mixing bowls, measuring spoons and vintage crockery I wanted for my next visit. I did pick up a little ‘Yoghourt’ guide, as in, how to eat it and why to eat it – I couldn’t resist! Lastly, I went into Strand Quay Antiques and had a little peek at their vintage tins, it’s been a growing obsession of mine – I just have nowhere to put them. But I did buy a Crawford’s shortbread tin all the same…
Then it was back up the cobbled hill to The Apothecary. You should know, it normally takes me a while to pick a cafe when I go out but this was a dead cert from the off. In a unique 17th century building, is this wonderfully quirky cafe with Beano comics on the ceiling, little glass bottles of all shapes and sizes all over the walls with deep leather sofas, a bit Matrix-esque. I had a mozzarella, tomato and pesto crepe, as I’d never had a savoury one before and it was delightful. I quickly followed that with a pot of Breakfast tea, just what I needed after walking up and down hills all day. Somehow, I managed to avoid the delicious looking cakes and biscuits on offer in their tempting domes…
Back out on the main high street, I took pictures of the most beautiful roses I’d seen in a while, just creeping up the walls of Grammar School Records. Situated in the historic Thomas Peacocke grammar school building, built in 1636, it’s a truly unique setting for a record shop. When you walk in, you feel like you’re going to an assembly hall except it’s filled with records! I love a good, independent record store, as there aren’t that many anymore, so this was a real pleasure. Oddly enough, I had a lot of the records on sale, so I couldn’t pick anything up but it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re a music fan.
Just before leaving, I spotted a traditional sweet shop, with weights, metal scoops and big plastic tubs just begging to be opened! Britcher and Rivers Ltd is everything you need in a sweet shop, right down to the conscientious owner. I picked up 100g of pineapple rock and 100g of chocolate bon bons, just for Green Ranger. They cost me just under £1.50. Heaven. All in all, I had a wonderful day, Rye really has a personality of its own and I can’t wait to plan my next trip.
Have you ever been to Rye or East Sussex at all? What would you recommend on a day trip?