Three Rye men above (Ted, Mike and Toby) known around the world, with a skeleton – featured before in Rye News. Known by thousands, because Rye’s visitors come in thousands – and they are often complimentary . Jean Floyd explains why, in the second of a series of articles about Rye’s Museum and related history.
I promised, she writes, to tell you more about the trio of guides at the Ypres Tower who share the job of welcoming and looking after the many visitors each day – the ones repeatedly praised in the recently replaced Visitors’ Book as ‘”so friendly”, “knowledgeable”, “such a good storyteller”.
Chief Guide Toby Mayor attributes his love of museums to being taken by his mother with his siblings to London museums throughout his childhood, the Natural History Museum being his favourite. Toby speaks fluent Spanish and during the 20 years he lived in Spain sometimes worked as a translator.
Returning to England in part so his daughters could attend schools in this country he has settled in Rye and welcomed the opportunity Rye Museum offered to build on his childhood interest in museums. One of the real pleasures of the job is meeting people from so many different places around Britain and the world, he says. (As for “Mum Dilys”, she’s become a Rye Museum Director and writer/producer of Rye plays.)
Ted Emson moved to Rye in 1974 after a career in the Merchant Navy to work at The Mermaid hotel. After moving to The George he started researching the hotel’s history which led on to the history of Rye itself. He joined the Rye Local History Group and later the Rye Museum Association where he volunteered in the Museum and the Tower.
After taking ill health retirement from the local Royal Mail office he was asked if he would do one day a week at the Tower and that has now become two days. Ted also hosts night visits of paranormal societies such as Ghost Connections who come with camcorders and digital cameras in hopes of ghostly discoveries.
Ted says: “Since taking the position of guide I’ve met and talked to people of all ages and nations and have hopefully shared a little of my fondness for Rye and the Tower and their history with them.”
Mike Berry had a twenty year career in fleet management in the motor industry before retiring in 1991 to found Bodiam Ferry Co (now Bodiam Boating Station) perhaps best known for its ferry trips between Newenden and Bodiam Castle. When ill health made it necessary to retire ,he took up the hobby of Western and American Civil War re-enactment – and he’s even played Abraham Lincoln giving the Gettysburg address to a company of Union soldiers!
“Working at Ypres Tower has given me the opportunity to pass on to the public little known facts and anecdotes about the history of Rye and its heritage, and the re-enactment side gives me the chance to portray living history. Indeed I was privileged to play the town jailer at the opening of the Women’s Tower at Ypres Castle Museum,” he said.
Can you guess who gamely played that most unwilling new woman prisoner (right) he was harrying into it? Yes, his wife.