The Mermaid Inn is a Tudor style Grade II listed historical inn located on Mermaid Street in the ancient town of Rye, East Sussex, England. One of England’s oldest and best-known inns, The Mermaid now offers a comfy place to stay, washed down with a spot of time travel. The Mermaid Inn is a proper smugglers tavern! Established in the 12th century The Mermaid has a long, checkered and turbulent history.Gazing at the typically black and white beamed Tudor building from the picturesque cobbled street in the centre of Rye, it’s hard to believe it’s 2013. Walking around Rye is like stepping back in time. The Mermaid Inn was originally built in 1156 and after a fire was rebuilt in 1420.
The Mermaid Inn is a treasure chest of charm for anyone who appreciates tradition and history, the ceilings are low, the corridors are suitably crooked, the building oozes character, you can’t help but wish the walls could talk!
As you enter the hotel there’s a pretty dazzling wall of all the stars who have stayed at The Mermaid, including Johnny Depp, Dame Judy Dench, Charlie Chaplin visited along with Marlon Brando and Sophia Loren during the filming of ‘The Countess from Hong Kong’, the list goes on! The AA Rosette-winning restaurant serves British and French cuisine and features medieval artwork in the interior by the Slade School of Fine Art.
I was fascinated by this Pirates tavern and wanted to share a brief slice of the Mermaid’s history, we all love pirates and splash of time travel, do we not?!
In 1156 when the Mermaid was built, Rye was a prosperous harbour. In 1300 it’s recorded that the Mermaid stood on its present site, built of wattle, daub, lath and plaster. The Mermaid brewed its own ale and charged a penny a night for lodging.
In 1377 the French raided Rye and burnt every building not made of stone to the ground, including The Mermaid. By 1420 the Mermaid was rebuilt and remains much the same to this day.
The infamous Hawkhurst Gang of smugglers, numbering 600 men, were frequent users of the Mermaid Inn. A gentleman born in Rye in 1740 spoke of the dreaded gang of smugglers sat in the Mermaid:
“when the Hawkhurst Gang were at the height of their pride and insolence I saw them, seated at the windows of this house carousing and smoking their pipes, with their loaded pistols lying on the table before them; no magistrate daring to interfere with them”.
Rye is a magnificent town steeped in history with stories and ghost tales to discover on every corner. You can explore the town easily of foot, meander through the church yard, castle and cobbled streets lined with cafes, pubs and boutique shops. You can see my previous post with more about Rye HERE
“A little bit of the old world living on in pleasant ignorance of the new” – The Victorian poet, Coventry Patmore on Rye.