A new family-run takeaway business has opened in Rye which should appeal to locals, tourists and historians. The Old Soup Kitchen is situated on the corner of Rope Walk and Cinque Ports Street and sells a variety of soft drinks and light snacks with a particular emphasis on good quality coffee and chocolate – as owner Anita says “I understand the importance of a good hot chocolate”. Also on offer are soft mix ice creams in single or twin cones, or tubs, with a variety of sauces; and various milkshakes, with strawberry and chocolate being the most popular flavours. Open every day until at least five in the evening the Old Soup Kitchen also sells croissants, doughnuts, and crisps with a range of flavoured sausage rolls eg hot chilli, pork and ham, and garlic and ginger. Interestingly one thing not on sale yet is soup – but that will change when the weather cools in the autumn and a range of different soups will be served with crusty rolls.
The owners are conscious of the need to maintain the classic features of the building at night so all outward signs of the shop are carefully put away each evening. The kitchen itself dates from 1895 when it was used to distribute soup and bread to the needy. It replaced an older soup kitchen, built in 1870, that had stood next to the Ypres Tower. Although modern technology has replaced the original utensils, which included copper pans with a seventy gallon capacity and four foot long spoons, Anita is keen to emphasise the historic importance of the soup kitchen to the town. For example, it seems that a sandstone plaque once hung on the outside wall in Rope Walk. The plaque has been eroded by over a century of British coastal weather and Anita hopes to place a replica where the old plaque once hung. Anyone with information about the history of the soup kitchen, or a photograph showing the old plaque, can contact Rye News as the museum was unable to help. Better still call in to the kitchen itself – and while you’re there treat yourself to a cool ice, a hot chocolate or a tasty sausage roll!