“But cities aren’t like people; they live on and on, even though their reason for being where they are has gone downriver and out to sea.”
― John Updike
The ancient town of Rye sits on a bluff guarded by the River Rother and overlooking Romney Marsh. It is a picturesque community bustling with life and art and pubs and restaurants and bakeries and crafts and local flavor.
There is a lot of history here, too, from Cinque Ports (In medieval times Rye was almost entirely surrounded by the sea) to George 1 to the Norman invasion to famous novelists and more. Rebekah and I parked by the river, walked up into the town, and spent a delightful day there Saturday. There was sunshine, rain, cold winds, more sunshine, umbrellas up, jackets off – every aspect of English weather possible over the course of six hours.
We especially enjoyed our tour of the Lamb House – built in 1723. Not only is the architecture classic Georgian but the house was graced with a visit by George 1 himself after his royal barge was beached at nearby Camber in a storm.
The home, which has only had four owners in three hundred years, belonged to prolific American novelist Henry James from 1897-1916. The house has a beautiful walled garden, which comes as a serendipitous surprise in contrast to the crowded streets and small lots that characterize Rye’s town architecture.
I am always drawn to the homes of writers (among my favorites are those occupied by Kipling, Hemingway, Twain, and now James). I love to see the writing desk, the library, and the gardens where they drew their inspiration. I could see myself writing somewhere like this; although when asked why he had not found someone to marry, James replied, “It wouldn’t be fair; my art is too jealous and exacting a mistress!”
A new favorite artist:
From there we grabbed lunch at one of the many cafés, pulled out the umbrella again as we went in and out of the shops, ducked into a bakery for cake and coffee mid-afternoon, ran into an art gallery where I discovered my new favorite British artist – Fred Cummings, and then wandered around in the glorious sunshine that followed.
By the time we returned to our beachside cottage in Camber we were tired but full. Filled to the brim with more quintessential and lovely Englishness.
Tomorrow morning we pack up this wonderful Airbnb and drive to Southhampton, where we will catch the afternoon ferry to the Isle of Wight. Stay tuned for more adventures.
This really is a good vacation. Here are a few more images, all from our day in the town of Rye – DEREK
enjoy these photographs that tell the story of our day in Rye!