RIP Clifford Jordan

Rye Town Hall

Clifford Jordan was a music teacher, born in 1940, who was a councillor at a very young age – so young that many now could not really remember him – but a friend has.

“Just before Christmas I was told of the passing of Clifford Jordan. I was aware of his failing health and of his battle with Parkinson’s over his final years and sadly had been unable to visit him this past year.

“Clifford was very much a part of Rye. He was a Rye character in every sense. He taught me both piano and singing from the age of seven enabling me to become a cathedral chorister at Canterbury. So began an association and later became a valued friendship from which I have many fond memories, humour never being far away.

“I can see him now scurrying down Cinque Ports Street in his black crushed velvet jacket, fedora jauntily angled – no doubt having just returned from a half day at some local private school, on the way to the bookies before disappearing in his Triumph Spitfire to play the organ at Peasmarsh church, as a jobbing organist, with the prospect of a council meeting that evening in his role as an independent town councillor and champion to the small man. All of this in a day’s work.

“Periodically, I would see his bespectacled face appear in the Sussex Express alerting us to some local injustice. He would remark to me how he saw his job to be a general nuisance to the powers that be. I hope that maybe we will be able to celebrate at a later date his extraordinary and colourful life at a more appropriate event among many like minded people who had the good fortune to know Clifford.”

Image Credits: Rye News library .


  1. Clifford was always a mine of historical information and great company. His family lived in the Old Bakery at Iden and he remembered vividly life here after the war, whilst securing for me some very good local publications he had found when working in Rye bookshops. He was a very talented musician and also used to play the organ and lead the choir at All Saints. I never heard him complain about his health problems and it was very sad that I had not seen him for some time. Nonetheless, I have very happy memories of Clifford by way of the good company he was and the books he located for me
    Besides the horrors of the virus, 2020 will be remembered no doubt for the passing of so many notable and good Rye people like Clifford who all left their mark on the town and in each way will be missed

  2. Rest in peace Clifford no more suffering it was so sad to see you suffering with Parkinson’s fond memories of our little chats in the pub and the betting shop you will be missed by many.

  3. RIP Clifford. I well remember our days of joint study with Margaret Hutching in between our piano lessons for our music GCE. I also remember that you continued to play for Rye Players once when there was a blackout in The George at one of our shows! When congratulated, you merely said that you used to wear a blindfold in order to teach a blind pupil to play piano – I don’t think many would have done that! Rest easy my friend.

  4. It should be remembered that Clifford was the youngest Rye Town Councilors elected at the age of 21. He was also an earlier pioneer of Green issues appearing on South East news in the 1970’s advocating a cleaner environment at Rye Harbour. Among his many other claims to fame was that he taught Frank Bruno – ‘ what he lacked in musical ability he made up for in enthusiasm’.
    Clifford will be sorely missed.

  5. It’s sad that I’ve only just learnt these things about Clifford. I served him many a drink and he was always a gentleman. R.I.P Clifford.

  6. Fond memories of Clifford when we would have our chats. Much loved character in and around Rye Town, fountain of local knowledge. Sadly the locals are dwindling very important we try and keep these memories alive. R.I.P

  7. Thank you, Michael, for your obituary, and to everyone else who has left kind comments about Clifford. I want to echo all that has been said. For nearly sixty years Clifford was a true friend to me, indeed to all of my family. He was always a kind, generous, funny and truly entertaining character. He loved Rye and many in Rye loved him. He would often be seen breezing through town, rather flamboyantly dressed on his way to the betting shop. He would stop and speak to so many people en route and the conversation would always end with a witty anecdote and waves of laughter. Clifford, as has been said, was an accomplished musician. He spent many years as a boy singing in Rye Church Choir. Later he went on to study singing at The Guildhall School of Music and he inspired me to follow in his footsteps. He was an inspirational teacher to many in Rye, and he managed to get my wife, Kay, through her grade five piano when she was a teenager. Later on we were privileged to have Clifford as our best man when we married in St Mary’s. Before his debilitating illness, Clifford fizzed with fun and energy. He loved the company of young people and there are many in Rye who are grateful for his support and mentoring. We very much hope to have a service of thanksgiving for his life in Rye Church later on this year when the pandemic allows, but in the meantime I ask all of Clifford’s friends and former colleagues to remember those family and friends attending his funeral which will take place at Hastings Crematorium at 1.30pm on Tuesday 19 January.

  8. I have only just come across this page, after finding some old photos of Cliff. Very sad to hear that he was suffering from Parkinson’s disease in later life. I knew Cliff as a House Master at Bethany School, Goudhurst, Kent, in the 1980s. He brought much colour and humour to School life. A very generous man, always lending an ear and consoling. He loved Rye and drove down at every opportunity. RIP Cliff.


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