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Rye Parish Church of St Mary

Rye Parish Church of St Mary in Rye, East Sussex

Rye Parish Church of St Mary
Church Square
East Sussex
TN31 7HF
01797 224 935 Website
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For almost 900 years the Parish Church of Rye, dedicated to St Mary the Virgin, has dominated the hill on which the old town stands. It has stood through good times and bad. In 1377 when the town was looted and set on fire by French invaders the church was extensively damaged. The roof fell in and the bells were carried off to France. They were recovered the next year when men from Rye and Winchelsea sailed to Normandy and took them back!

In 1742 a murder took place in the churchyard when Allen Grebell was killed by John Breeds who mistook him for the Mayor. John Breeds was hung and his remains placed in an iron cage on Gibbets Marsh. Later this was moved to the church and later still to the Town Hall where it is to this day. The grave of Allen Grebell can be seen in the Clare Chapel.

There are several interesting stained glass windows in the church, although none are very old. The most beautiful is by Sir Edward Burne-Jones (1891) in memory of Mary Tiltman and can be seen in the North Aisle.

Today St Mary's is a popular destination for tourists who come to see the oldest church turret clock in the country which is still functioning. It dates from 1561-2 and has an 18ft long pendulum (a much later addition) which can be seen swinging in the body of the church. The present exterior clock face and the original 'Quarter Boys' (so called because they strike the quarters but not the hours) were added in 1760.

The photograph above shows the Burne-Jones Window.

The church is open daily from 9 am - 6 pm (4 pm in winter). The tower is also open daily and can be climbed, for a charge, to see the clock mechanism, the bells and a wonderful view of Rye and the surrounding countryside.
Regular services take place as follows:

Sunday Services

- 8.00am. Holy Communion (Traditional)
- 10.30am. Parish Eucharist (Modern)1st Sunday ~ Family Service
- 6.00pm. Evensong (Traditional)~ most Sundays
- Thursdays: 10.00am. Holy Communion (Modern)

Parish Records: All parish records of baptism/marriage/death are kept in East Sussex County Records Office:

The Maltings, Castle Precincts, Lewes BN7 1YT
Tel: 01273 482 359
Fax: 01273 482 341


What's On in Rye?

  • Uncle Harry's War

    Tuesday 25th October @ 7:00pm
    Location: Northiam

    Northiam and District Historical Society present a talk by John Nicholson - from Ramsgate to the western desert and beyond. ... more

  • Rye Ukulele Experiment

    Tuesday 25th October @ 7:30pm
    Location: Rye

    Rye Ukulele Experiment offer Piggy themed songs with Wild Boar nibbles and lots more and free tasting of our Boar ... more

  • Rye Farmers Market

    Wednesday 26th October @ 10:00am
    Location: Rye

    Come to Rye Farmers’ Market for great tasting, local, seasonal produce. Our producers raise, grow, catch, bake and make their ... more

  • Collect and Create Plant Pots

    Thursday 27th October @ 10:00am
    Location: Rye Harbour

    Rye Harbour Family Event Gather seeds from some of our special plants, and then paint a pot to plant them ... more

  • Children's Craft Afternoon

    Thursday 27th October @ 2:00pm
    Location: Rye

    A fun afternoon making a variety of autumn themed crafts – items to make and take home. £2 per ... more

  • Jamie Smart at the Standard Inn

    Thursday 27th October
    Location: Rye

    Jamie Smart is a local singer / songwriter known for his fabulous singing voice and songs of longing, love and ... more

  • Jazz Supper At Rye Cricket Club

    Thursday 27th October
    Location: Rye

    Join Roger Lewin piano, Dave Silk contra-cello, and Jacci Norris with vocals, for the Jazz Supper Night in Wild Boar ... more

  • Branagh Theatre Live at the Kino

    Thursday 27th October
    Location: Rye

    Screening live from the Garrick Theatre to Kino Rye. - The Entertainer. Set against the backdrop of post-war Britain, John ... more

  • Mick Bolton at the Globe Marsh Inn

    Thursday 27th October
    Location: Rye

    Mick Bolton plays live at the Globe Marsh Inn,Military Road, Rye, East Sussex TN31 7NX ... more

  • Rye Country Market

    Friday 28th October @ 10:00am
    Location: Rye

    Rye Country Market sells local produce which includes: Cakes, Preserves, Savouries, Free Range Eggs, Seasonal Vegetables and Fruit, Unusual Plants, ... more


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