It was one of the two "antient towns" which were added to the Cinque Ports in the 13th century. Once almost an island beside the sea, it acquired a good anchorage after a destructive storm in 1287, but was attacked and burnt by the French a century later, at the same time suffering from the silting up of its harbour. Many of the inhabitants then turned to smuggling.
Now over 2 miles inland, it is a little hilltop town with a cluster of red roofs.
St. Mary`s Church, partly Norman, has a particularly fine clock with a very long pendulum, dating from 1560. This is said to be the oldest church turret clock in England.
Landgate is an impressive stone gateway, and the only one of four to survive from the 14th century.
Ypres Tower is also 14th century, and is part of the fort. The local pronunciation is "Wipers".
Mermaid Street is a particularly attractive cobbled street, in which is the timber framed Mermaid Hotel dated 1420..
Lamb House, dating from the 18th century, was the home of the novelist Henry James, and E. F. Benson later lived there.
A rebuilt windmill is nearby, as well as a Martello Tower.
The dramatist John Fletcher (of Beaumont and Fletcher) was born at Rye.
Blue Badge Guide Colin Crosby is available to lead Guided Walks around Rye for groups.