In the next of our Instagrammer guides, 91 contributor Jeska Hearne visits Rye in East Sussex. This town, just near the south coast is a photographers dream with it’s cute cobbled streets, pretty houses and numerous independent shops and cafes. After a day spent here it’s likely your camera and wallet will be feeling a bit worn out! Over to Jeska to hear of her top spots…
Rye is the perfect destination for a day trip or even a long, lazy weekend with lots of visual delights to inspire you. Cobbled lanes like Mermaid Street are lined with medieval, half-timbered houses and the redbrick Lamb House was once owned by writer Henry James. The town is steeped in history, and has become home to a plethora of beautiful boutiques, cosy cafes and stylish pubs to explore for hours….
Eat in stylish surroundings – there are so many great eating spots in Rye. The Standard Inn, The George, Cobbles Tea room – I could go on – but you might want to hunt out this new favourite of mine. We love to fuel up for a day of wandering in the lovely Fig cafe – bistro chairs, old tables and bare bulbs twinkling, with a great brunch and daily menus on offer. Coffee for him, tea for me and homemade cake for all.
Go on a wisteria walk – If you visit in May, you’ll discover the houses and shops all around Rye are draped with stunning swathes of purple buds. All throughout the year is great for photos too though – autumn leaves are just as good as blooms! Favourites include houses on Hilders Cliff, East Street, Mermaid Street and the High Street.
The Tiny Book Store – this is a wee place piled high with vintage and antique books on all subjects. I love to pop in whenever I am in the town and grab something to read over the weekend. I always take a picture of the outside!
Wander the pretty streets – Just along the pathway from the Tiny Book Store, you’ll fine the ‘Pink House’ I think it was actually the rectory for St Mary’s church once, but now, it is forever known as the ‘Pink House’. Curved bay windows and pretty roses in summer, it can be viewed from the street or from high above the town if you climb the stairs and ladders up onto the church roof on a fair weather day. Blossom trees and hydrangeas in the churchyard opposite make for pretty spring and summer photos too. On your way from here toward Mermaid street, you might spot another one of my happy land marks – the ‘Black Swan’ sign swinging from a corner shop in West Street. Next the famous Mermaid street is a beauty in all seasons, quaint timber houses, haunted hotels and cobbles for days. If you want to capture it at a quiet time, head there for sunrise or sunset when everyone else is in the pub – and wear sensible shoes!
Pale and Interesting – At the bottom of Mermaid street at number 21, you’ll find the perfectly petite boutique Pale and Interesting, owned by husband and wife team, Atlanta Bartlett and Dave Coote. The store is inspired by their love of the functional, beautiful and out-of-the-ordinary. Their philosophy is all about mixing it up, teaming old with new, contrasting rough with smooth and pairing femininity with utility. Visit in all seasons for different offerings and shimmering window displays in December.
Vintage and antique shops – Just around the corner, you’ll see an imposing white clapper board building with green windows. Strand House has two shop rooms which are filled with unique and awe-inspiring antiques and one off collectable pieces. For vintage lovers, stroll down the Mint and on to the Strand Quay where Crock & Cosy has kitchen accessories from all eras. On the opposite side of the street is one of my favourite shops on the quay – Hunter Jones Vintage. They usually have a collection of beautiful styled crates and homewares outside, and inside – enamel lamp shades, beautiful rugs, vintage lassi cups, drawer pulls and more.
McCully and Crane – In McCully and Crane on Cinque Ports Street, you’ll find cleverly re-worked statement furniture amongst walls covered with emerging artists, daring lighting and fabulous one-off objet trouvé, all with a rough luxe aesthetic. The signage is lovely and their styled shop floor is always inspiring.
Merchant and Mills – Continue along to Tower street and you’ll find the warehouse treasure trove of Merchant and Mills – reason alone to come to Rye! They supply patterns, fabrics and all the amazing tools that allow the creation of a desirable, functioning wardrobe. From fastenings to Japanese fabrics, this shop has it all, I never leave empty handed. If you are not much of a maker, they also sell ready to wear items from their collection now.
A cosy pub – Slip around the corner from the Land Gate and over the railway bridge towards Military Road and you’ll spot a sign for the Globe Inn Marsh, a beautiful pub with great seasonal meals and inspiring coastal decor. Amongst the recycled timber, lobster pots and open fires, find a cosy table and snuggle in for an hour or three.
Cafe Des Fleurs – My favourite place to buy flowers (and coffee!) is Cafe Des Fleurs – perfectly situated if you are travelling by train, as it is just outside the station. They have beautiful blooms, unusual stems and ready made bouquets – perfect for bringing some seasonal joy home with you! On cold days, grab a hot chocolate and a box of truffles for the journey too.
The Shop Next Door – If you still have time for one more shop, or are staying the night in the George Hotel – stock up on hotel chic with colourful dinner candles, joyful home accessories and even Farrow and Ball paint in The Shop Next Door.
This is just a small selection of the wonderful shops, pubs, cafes and galleries that the town has to offer. There is a handy map to get you started which you can pick up in most stores or online here.