Rye Castle Museum

Rye’s Fire Engine 1775 -1865
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Rye Castle Museum has two sites: the Ypres Tower and East Street.

The Ypres Tower is one of the oldest buildings in Rye, being built in 1249 as part of the town's defences. The Tower has had a chequered history and as you look round the inside you can see those changes in the blocked windows and doorways. From the balcony you can look over what in the C16th was the seventh busiest port in the country (now farmland).

In one cell there is medieval pottery made in Rye, reflecting the prosperity of the town and also the skills brought from France, when the town was part of the lands belonging to the Abbey of Fecamp, in Normandy. You can also view a very rare smuggler's spout lantern, which allowed smugglers to signal to ships without being seen by the Excisemen ashore. There is a relief map which shows the development of the coastline over the last thousand years and how the Romans were able to sail over the area now known as the Romney Marsh at high tide and how, by Elizabethan times the navigable area was far smaller and limited to Rye.

The basement has changing exhibitions that appeal to children of all ages. At present there is an exhibition of replica medieval weapons which you can hold and thereby feel their weight. There are examples of armour and also helmets you can wear and then be photographed, if you have a camera with you. You can test how strong you are and see if you could have been a medieval longbowman, by pulling a cord attached to a weight that is the equivalent of drawing a longbow. This is not for the faint hearted, and do be careful if you have any back problems, and generally take it gently!

There is also a re-creation of a medieval herb garden in what was the excercise yard and although this can only be opened on special occasions, it can be viewed from the balcony. However, it is open on the weekend of the Rye Medieval Fair.

Venue Type:


Opening hours

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Admission charges

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Collection details

Archaeology, Archives, Decorative and Applied Art, Fine Art, Weapons and War, Coins and Medals, Social History, Land Transport, Maritime

Rye Castle Museum
East Sussex
TN31 7HH






01797 226728

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.