Not a bad general really

Chris Viner, much loved, left

Thirty three years! When you say it like that it’s sounds like a very long time, which l suppose it is, but somehow it seems to have slipped by quickly!

Soldiers of Rye started selling toy soldiers all those years ago and from the beginning they found their way to collectors and as gifts to people all over the world.

Soldiers of Rye on the High Street, sadly, the end of an era.

My little troops live all over Europe, the USA, Scandinavia, Canada, The Middle and Far East, Australia, New Zealand, every country in South America and many in Africa.

I have often thought that perhaps l am not a bad general really, as my soldiers have gone to all these places and yet never hurt anyone!

All through the years l have tried to enthuse visitors to my shop with the joys and fascinations of history through my models, particularly younger people.

But now it is time to go. The enthusiasm will never wane, but a new adventure beckons for my wife and l in Scotland.

Before l go however, l want to thank all the wonderful clients who have bought my toy soldiers over the years and of course, very importantly, all the many friends whether in business or not, who have helped me ever since l came to Rye.

I shall never, ever forget any of you.

I wish each and every business in Rye and each and every citizen of this old and special town every success and good thing in the future.

It’s been a lot of fun.

Thank you all.

Image Credits: Chris Viner .


  1. Chris Viner is what you might refer to as ‘old school’ with high moral and ethical standards and a great communicator as well as being a popular ambassador for Rye. I often bumped into him as he walked his dog around Rye, always impeccably turned out often in his hall mark flat cap. A skilled technician too who’s business couldn’t have been more niche market but his success is testimony to his ability and personality which contributed greatly to his 30 year tenure in the High Street. We wish him and his family every success with their new life in Scotland, but I still cant visualise him wearing a kilt!!
    It has been a pleasure knowing you Chris, stay well and good luck for the future. Nick Forman

    • Hello Nick and thankyou so much for your kind comments. One of the things that makes my moving away from the area so much easier, is that l go with the knowledge that despite the many changes that Rye has undertaken over the last years, she is safe in the hands and hearts of people like you. Thankyou for your friendship. Take care now. Yours Chris.

  2. Very sad to see you go Chris. I will never forget pondering over which beautifully painted models to buy with my kids (now very grown up). May you have a long and happy retirement!

  3. My husband and I arrived in Rye at much the same time as Chris. One of my grandsons was enthralled with Chris’s ‘soldiers’ and brought some of his own, that he, as a nine-year-old had painted. Chris was so kind and encouraging. When we passed in the street over the years we always had a brief word or two, which was a delight.
    We too will be on the move towards the end of next summer, but Chris will be one of the many happy and friendly faces I will always associate with Rye.

    • Hello Pamela. So many years, so many changes, but you never did. Perhaps a little physically, but in the essence of the spirit of the being, not one jot. You were a lady when l first met you and a lady when l last met you.
      Enjoy your last Christmas in Rye, then leave with that infectious smile and light up somewhere else. Wherever you choose to go, they we will be fortunate to have you. Take care please.
      Yours Chris.

  4. I met Chris when he first move to Rye, so l am sorry he is leaving us and moving on to pastures new
    Best wishes to you and your wife in your new life in Scotland.
    All that has been said on here about you l agree.
    Take care and keep safe pal..
    Kind regards Dave

    • Well thankyou Dave, your most kind. Our friendship started so many years ago and l consider myself fortunate to have been counted as one of yours.
      Keep safe now.
      Yours always Chris.

  5. We will miss you Chris.
    My Son Owen loved this shop and listening to all the history that Chris told us.Enjoy your retirement.You deserve it.
    Our soldiers will be kept safe for many years.
    Thank you so much General Chris.

    • Hello Geoffrey, thankyou so much for your kind comments. I am certain that Owen will continue his interest in history even without me around!
      I always looked forward to your families regular visits and will miss you all very much.
      Take care now.
      Yours always Chris.

  6. Good luck, Chris! You’re a real gentleman and we wish you and your wife a wonderful new life in Scotland. You will be missed here in Rye. Thank you for keeping an eye on our grand daughter, Beth, in the adjacent shop.

    • Hello Christopher. Thankyou for your kind comments which are much appreciated.
      Watching out for Beth was never a hassle She is a terrific person with a future as bright as any star in the night sky.
      Please take care of yourself.
      Yours always Chris.

  7. Chris
    So very sorry to hear you are packing it in,I guess the chess set you made for me this past summer will take on a special meaning
    Since the virus struck I have constantly checked the rye news to check on you,I miss the numerous emails we exchanged organizing my chess set.Take care my good friend

    • Thanks for your kind words Bill. Your splendid Chess Set was such a pleasure to create and l am so pleased you enjoyed it so much.
      Take care in all things my friend.
      Yours ever Chris.

  8. Hi Chris,
    Sorry to hear you are leaving Rye but good luck for your move to Scotland. My two sons, Stuart and Paul, loved to visit your shop every year when visiting grandparents in Camber back in the late 80s and 90s. They listened in awe to your wonderful ‘soldier stories’ and show an interest in history to this day. (They are now 41 and 40!) I’m sure you won’t remember but Paul brought you a little figure he’d painted and was so proud because you kept it on your desk from year to year.

  9. Thankyou Gill. Forty and forty-one?
    Gosh but that makes one feel a little bit older, does it not.
    Please tell Paul that his handpainted gift is with me here in Scotland, along with three albums of drawings presented to me over the years by oodles of small people, and all the other gifts young collectors gave me. It was difficult to leave, for there were many more stories to tell, but time moves on, and so must l. Best of everything to you all. Chris.

  10. Hello Nick and thankyou so much for your kind comments. One of the things that makes my moving away from the area so much easier, is that l go with the knowledge that despite the many changes that Rye has undertaken over the last years, she is safe in the hands and hearts of people like you. Thankyou for your friendship. Take care now. Yours Chris.

  11. Hi Chris it’s been years since I left rye will miss piping in everyday with my scooter to come see how you was doing and to listen to all the story’s you told me. The one thing that sticks with me that you told me was everyone has a third eye but not everyone knows how to use it it is a shame I couldn’t see you sooner I wish you and your wife a happy retirement in Scotland
    Hope you remember and good luck Alex

  12. Hello Chris
    Very, very sad to hear the news! Coming to Rye will never be the same again without popping in and enjoying our time together, chatting about a new figure to paint or History in General! It was always my motive for visiting Rye!
    Il miss you in the shop and thanks for all the work over the years..your figures still take pride of place in my cabinet!
    Wishing you and your wife all the best in your new life north of the border!
    March away to a bigger and better life!

    Goodbye Chris


  13. So disappointed for anyone that wasn’t lucky enough to meet Chris, or to go to his wonderful shop. My wife and I go to Rye every year for Xmas and invariably pop in to say hello and make a donation to his favourite cause. I say make a donation because Chris would always generously insist upon gifting something – instead of charging – along with a wonderful tale or two. We always enjoyed the story about a child (Kipling?) and his toy soldier that looked over him. I have since become a father and one of Chris’s soldier looks over my sons cot, and I either carry a soldier or leave him in my office at work. Bless you Chris, we wish you all the best for your move to Scotland. If only there were more people like you!! Thank you.

  14. Dear Chris, I cannot tell you how sad I felt to learn that you had gone. But that would be selfish, I realised that it has been over thirty years that I have enjoyed your lovely hugs and genuine pleasure whenever I arrived. My 4 month grand daughtery girl to whom gave the tiny soldier, (a bandsman for a girl!) to guard her while she slept) is now 30 years old and about 5ft11ins tall!!
    You made a special order of a soldier at was for my son in laws father, a wonderful miniature sailer, mounted of my husband and searched and reserved any Royal Navy figures. We first saw you in the old Mint then the High street
    My husband was born and lived most of his early life in Ediburgh. He used to return each year when I first met him but then workers in the Middle East, married me and when we returned, 3 now because we had a daughter, it was not possible. We did return once, as a family , when he was 50yrs. I would love to hear from you. What part of Scotland did you settle? We do go back a long way!!!


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