The Mermaid Inn, arguably Rye’s top tourist attraction (whose cellars incidentally date back to 1156) was rebuilt in 1420 after Rye was burned to the ground. It has a fascinating 600 year history with a strong connection with the notorious Hawkhurst Gang of smugglers who were regular visitors in the 1730s and 1740s when Rye was a thriving port. Legend has it that some of the smugglers and their mistresses still haunt the inn.
For centuries, visitors of every description have been drawn to the Mermaid Inn but on Tuesday, July 20 there was a visitation of a different kind, a step back in time when a family of pirates were invited ‘on board’.
Landlady Judith Blincow invited a notorious family of pirates, led by Cap’n Davy Young, the publisher of ‘Pirate Plunder’ to visit the Mermaid Inn. The gang of cut-throats whose motto is ‘The family that slays together stays together’ included from left to right on main photo, Michael Young (alias Cap’n James Summer), his mum (Saucy Sue) while his fiancée (Pirate Rose) poses alongside Cap’n Davy.
The scurrilous magazine ‘Pirate Plunder’ aims to support the non-violent plundering of the populace of coastal towns and inland counties for the benefit of worthy charities, such as the RNLI, throughout the British Isles.
About five years ago, the captain’s eldest son Michael was encouraged to impersonate a certain well known Caribbean pirate to raise money in support of a folk festival in Swanage, Dorset. His newly discovered talent created such a stir that his journalist father was given the confidence to launch a magazine for the country’s charitable pirates.
May 2018 saw the first issue in print and with Michael writing for it under the alias Cap’n James Summer. Now in its fourth volume, it includes a series on smuggler hostelries, which first featured Bodmin Moor’s Jamaica Inn. The next to be featured is the Mermaid Inn with its colourful past and guest list, including the aforementioned Hawkhurst Gang.
The visitors from ‘Pirate Plunder’ despite their family motto, have promised to be on their best behaviour during their visit and were last seen, posing with the anchor outside the Rye Heritage Centre, below.
With thanks to David Young for his input and photographs and to Judith and Martin Blincow for being such fantastic hosts.
Image Credits: David Young (Aka Cap'n Davy) , Nick Forman , Simon Parsons .