Mermaid Inn rye

Double AA Rosette Restaurant

The Mermaid Inn, Rye
One of England’s oldest and loveliest Inns
Tel: +44 (0)1797 223065
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The Friends of Tilling , who follow the exploits of Mapp and Lucia by E. F. Benson, gather in Rye each year, reliving the books and series filmed and set in this very town. Benson Walks take places regularly in the Town.


Along the south side of the churchyard runs Watchbell Street, with its houses ranging from Tudor to Regency. Past the Customs House one faces Lamb House, associated with so much of Rye’s history, including an unscheduled visit by George I in 1726 and Henry James, the novelist, who lived here for several years. Lamb House is owned by the National Trust and is open to the public.  See Rye Eye for more on literary events


For current opening hours or any further information please contact


Rye Heritage Centre or call 01797 226696



About Rye

Independent Shops - Art Galleries - Country & Coastal Walks - Historic Buildings & Museums

The Victorian poet, Coventry Patmore, described Rye as “A little bit of the old world
living on in pleasant ignorance of the new”. It would be hard to find a better summary of
Rye’s charm. The Mermaid Inn, offering unique accommodation in Rye, captures the
atmosphere behind these words. Charm is the key word and Rye has it in abundance.




Quaint antique shops, art galleries and state of the art beauty parlours and salons


Sporting facilities: Rye Golf Club, Mermaid Bowls League, Windsurfing, Cycling


Historical buildings and military fortifications inc: Rye Castle Museum, Camber Castle


Rye Harbour Nature Reserve

Sand dunes at Camber Sands


Festivals: Arts, Scallop, Taste of Rye,  Wildlife, Christmas & Bonfire Night


Churches & Chapels


Country & Coastal Walks


Vintage trains for rail enthusiasts


Castles, Abbey, Gardens and historic cities within easy reach


Places to Visit in and around Rye

When one sets foot on the cobbles of Mermaid Street and gazes at the two rows of houses the centuries just fall away. It would seem right and natural for the sound of horses to echo in this ancient thoroughfare. The Mermaid had close associations with Smugglers and their notorious activities, although the old Customs House (the house with the crooked chimney) is just around the corner from the Inn. To consider for one moment that Customs men and Smugglers were unaware of each others’ existence would be stretching credulity too far and, no doubt, some spirit of ‘co-operation’ existed.

The Customs House faces the beautiful Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin with its mighty buttresses. Through the Churchyard lies the Ypres Tower, built around 1250, as a defence against the French. It is the oldest fortification existing in the Cinque Ports, with the exception of Dover Castle, and is now a fascinating museum. In front of the Tower is the garden, where the defenders of Rye manned a battery of guns.

There is a breathtaking view from this vantage point, both over the Walland and Romney Marshes and across the River Rother to Winchelsea, Rye’s sister town, both members of the Confederation of Cinque Ports. Millais painted ‘The Blind Girl’ in these meadows.

Rye also prides itself on its sporting history, having one of the oldest cricket clubs in the country, well supported by the locality, and also the exclusive Rye Golf Club which hosts the annual President’s Putter competition in January, between Oxford University and Cambridge University. The Mermaid sponsors the Mermaid Bowls League each year, which once again has a large following and helps bring the surrounding villages together. (We always remain totally impartial of course!)

Camber Sands is only a short drive from Rye and has been used as a backdrop for many films over the years such as Dunkirk, Carry On Follow that Camel and Yellowbeard. For the more adventurous holidaymaker there is a cycle route from Rye to Camber passing the Windsurfing School. Rye Harbour offers a mixture of historic interest with military fortifications spanning several centuries, a Nature Reserve and wondrous views as the river flows from Rye to the sea, transporting Rye’s Fishing Fleet.

There are numerous Country Walks emanating from Rye, taking you through unspoilt valleys and, if you wish to see gardens with a difference, there is Great Dixter at Northiam or in total contrast Derek Jarman’s Garden at Dungeness.

For the railway enthusiasts the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Light Railway is a unique way to view Romney Marsh or for a vintage steam train the Kent and East Sussex Railway travelling from Tenterden to Bodiam is a must.

A short drive will take you to Bodiam Castle, Hastings, Battle Abbey, Brighton or Canterbury, all steeped in history. The countryside of Kent and Sussex surrounding Rye is some of the most beautiful in the South of England, with its unspoilt villages and peaceful seashore.



Each year in September Rye Hosts the Rye Festival, which caters for all tastes with visitors travelling from all corners of the world. See Rye Arts Festival


Book a guided Ghost Walk around Rye or find out more about Rye’s past at the Heritage Centre & Rye Museum.


A spectacular procession through the town culminating in a magnificent  bonfire and fire work display – between 10,000 and 15,000 visitors join in each year.


May is renowned for bells, not church bells, but that of the Morris Men, who dance in the Mermaid’s car park on Bank Holidays.


For Themed & Illustrated Visitor Guides to Rye see A Pocketful of Rye.  Guides are available to buy online or at the Mermaid Inn.  See Rye Guide for further ideas on where to visit







Rooftops Rye
Camber Sands
Rye Harbour
Castle Water

The Mermaid Inn, Mermaid Street, Rye, East Sussex, TN31 7EY - Tel: +44 (0)1797 223065 - email
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View over Rye