Favourite Places – Rye & Winchelsea

Rye in Sussex is one of my favourite places. We’ve been there a few times and explored its streets and coastline.

It’s got lots of history and some literary connections too. By the end of the 12th century it was described as an ‘Antient Town, worthy of veneration’  and it became one of the Cinque Ports in the 14th century. This meant that it had to supply ships and seamen for the defence of the Realm. Parts of the town still have a medieval look, with cobbled streets and narrow passages.

Here are some of our photos (click on them for a bigger picture) from our last visit in 2006. First the Parish Church of St Mary’s which is almost 900 years old, damaged by fire in 1377 by French invaders. It has the oldest working church turret clock in the country dating from 1561-2.

St Mary’s Church, Rye

We climbed the tower – the view is spectacular (but I can’t find our photos!)

One of the highlights of our visit was Lamb House, a brick-fronted Georgian house in West Street once the home of Henry James, later E F Benson, and then Rumer Godden, now owned by the National Trust.

West Street – Lamb House at the far end

Lamb House as it is today dates from 1722 or 1723 with some minor alterations made by Henry James and the addition of bathrooms by the National Trust. James lived there from 1898 until the autumn of 1914. There is a beautiful walled garden – I’m particularly fond of walled gardens – where in the summer James used to dictate his novels in the little Georgian pavilion that was later bombed in 1940. There is not a lot to see in the house with just three rooms open to the public but some of his furniture and books are on display.

E F Benson lived there until his death in 1940 and wrote many of his Mapp and Lucia novels there. Rumer Godden also lived there from 1968 to 1973. But nothing of their time here remains, as far as I could see.

We also walked round the harbour

Rye Harbour

 and then along the shore line, which is a Nature Reserve with bird-watching hides.

Rye Harbour Nature Reserve

The Nature Reserve extends as far as Winchelsea Beach, a huge shingle bank, 2 miles down the coast.


For more Favourite Places visit Margot’s blog Joyfully Retired where she  regularly features her favourite places.

3 thoughts on “Favourite Places – Rye & Winchelsea

  1. I agree Rye and Winchelsea are beautiful. I have been watching DVDs of EF Benson’s Mapp and Lucia set in Rye and they are absolutely superb. The wonderful performances of Prunella Scales, Geraldine McEwan and Nigel Hawthorne and the setting made me quite forget my problems.


  2. How amazing it is to think of structures and events that are that old. I am in awe that you are able to still visit such places. Your pictures are so good. I feel I’m right there. (Thanks for letting me enlarge them.)

    I like the idea that two creative writers lived and worked in the same house. There must be some kind of writing vibe in the place. I’ve not seen too many walled gardens. I like the idea.

    Thanks for participating in Favorite Places. I always love the places you take me.


  3. I agree with Norman, that series is superb. When I visited Rye in 1992 I was delighted to stumble across the house used for Miss Mapp’s house (the one Lucia rents). I had my picture taken in front of it.


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