Not just a pie shop, Simon the Pieman claims to be the oldest tearoom in Rye and true to its word serves a range of pies as well as tea and cakes and home made fudge. Not to be missed for travellers on the go are the take-away pasties which are hot, delicious and very filling, perfect for busy bees on the run.
St Mary's has been one of the most iconic features of the skyline for more than 900 years. Held under a Royal deed by the Abbey of Fecamp in Normandy and an important member of the Cinque Ports Confederation, work on a church which befitted the powerful town began in the early 12th century. In 1377 the town was looted and set on fire by French invaders. The church was badly damaged and the bells carried off to France. The following year, men from Rye and Winchelsea sailed to Normandy, set fire to two towns and recovered much of the loot, including the church bells - one of which was subsequently hung in Watchbell Street, to give warning of any future attack. St Mary's is open every day of the year, except for Christmas Day, from 9.15am - 5.15pm in summer and 9.15am - 4.15pm in winter. The Tower, which is open every day (weather permitting) has become a popular place for marriage proposals!
The 'new' clock was installed in about 1561-2 and was made by the Huguenot Lewys Billiard. It is one of the oldest church turret clocks in the country still functioning. The pendulum, a much later addition, swings in the body of the church. The present exterior clockface and the original 'Quarter Boys' (so called because they strike the quarters but not the hours) were added in 1760. Today, if you wish, you can climb the church tower where you will see the 8 bells now hanging there. These are not the same bells that were stolen in 1377 as they were re-cast in 1775 and new bells added.
Home to an inspiring display of contemporary art and craft and a fine Permanent Collection as well as a variety of supporting events, the gallery has a slightly quirky layout, because it has been combined from two domestic houses in different streets. Artists Howard and Mary Stormont lived in in the Ypres Studio on Ockmans Lane where Mary created the Rye Art Gallery Trust in 1957. She bequeathed the studio to the Trust at her death in 1962. Their friend, painter Eileen Easton, one of the original trustees, later bequeathed her High Street house to the Trust as well. The artists two homes now make one premises, which is light, fresh and modern inside.
Well worth a visit for the sheer volume of art and beautifully curated collections, Rye Art is also home to some treasured works by artists of national and international importance as well as regional favourites, which are usually shown in their top floor studios, Galleries five and six. With a strong team and support from the Arts Council and Rother District Council, Rye Art maintains a very high standard in their collections and houses many valuable pieces.
Rye Art also features some of the artists whose work is currently on show on their website, usually supported by the Artist's Statement on their vision and how they work. See the 'Exhibitions and Events' page for their mixed and named shows as well.