We took a day trip to Rye, a town in East Sussex, when we were in England last spring. We were in London before that and we were quite tired of the hustle and bustle of the city, so we decided a change of scenery would do us good. We picked Rye because for one, it was just less than an hour away by fast train from London; second, it was small enough a town to be explored in just a day; and third, we’ve heard so many good things about it from other travelers. Something about it being a bucket list item, or so. Our curiosity was piqued, so off to Rye we went one fine day in early spring.
We boarded one of the fast trains at St. Pancras station in London and changed trains at Ashford International station. The journey from London to Rye was just less than an hour all in all. It was a beautiful day at that time; the sun was out, so it wasn’t very cold, which was just perfect for going around town.
For some background, Rye is a small medieval town perched on a hill and located about two miles from the sea. During the 18th and 19th century, it was tasked to provide ships for the King in times of war. It’s small enough to be explored on foot.
There was a short walk from the station to the center of the town. On the way, we passed by some shops and residential houses.
Because we came on a weekday and it was still in the early days of spring, there weren’t much tourists about. The place was in fact quiet and peaceful. We passed by several antique shops, which is a common sight in small English towns, by the way. Since I love antiquing, I welcomed these sights with relish. In case you’re wondering, I didn’t get anything, though. Not for lack of trying, however, but because our baggage fees would have been enormous when we left for home, haha.
We passed by this ice cream parlor that’s located on the corner of Mermaid Street. Mermaid Street is a famous street in Rye and, I think, one of the best known and loved in England. It’s an enchanting cobblestoned lane that’s lined with charming timber-framed houses dating back to 15th century and earlier. It’s really a sight to behold.
Along this street you’ll find the famous Mermaid Inn, which also dates back to the 15th century and used to be a favorite of the smuggling gangs of the 18th and 19th centuries. It’s now one of the well-known Rye hotels.
We passed by The Old Bell Inn too, also a historical hotel in Rye, that was built in the 14th century. It is said that it is connected to the Mermaid Inn by a secret passageway for use by smuggling gangs in the days of old.
Further into town were more shops, churches, and historic buildings. We stopped for some afternoon tea at one of the traditional tearooms in the area and spent an hour watching the world go by, so to speak.
We didn’t see the insides of any museum or go into Rye Castle or even enter a church, because we really just wanted to explore the town, and because there wasn’t much time for anything else really. Still, we enjoyed our time in this lovely place though. It was a day to remember!
So that’s Rye—historic, lovely and charming. A place that seems to be suspended in time with its cobbled lanes, centuries-old buildings and houses. If you plan to visit, wear sensible shoes.