Thumbs up from the visitors

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Mike Berry, at the entrance to the ground floor of the Tower.

What can a Visitors’ Book tell us ? Do you already think you are fortunate to live in or around Rye? Read on. Not everyone who visits our museums, churches or other attractions signs a Visitors’ Book, but those who do give us a good idea of the range of places they come from and, in particular, what they think of our Rye Castle Museum – and their Rye experience overall.

We’ve recently bought yet another new Visitors’ Book for the Ypres Tower because the 740 entries in the existing one filled up all the pages. What follows is the first of a series reporting on some of the things the one being replaced has told us, and what visitors saw and commented on. And, even allowing for “visitors’ book hyperbole”, the responses of all the contributors are so overwhelmingly positive, you are in danger of bursting with pride that this is your town.

Where do our visitors come from?  The visitors who wrote in the Ypres Tower Visitors’ Book during the nine months covered came from half the 83 counties of England, plus Scotland, Wales and Ireland, and from 35 other countries around the world.   Not surprisingly there were many from Australia, Canada and the USA – all parts of each of them, as well as from New Zealand.

But there were also significant numbers from Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Spain in mainland Europe, but also multiple book-signing visitors from Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Sweden and Switzerland.   Visitors from Asia came from Japan (the greatest number of signers), China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

While from South America we had visitors from Argentina, Brazil and Columbia. There were several from South Africa too.

What was their overall reaction to the visit?

These are some of the words and phrases which keep appearing throughout the book: Brilliant. Marvellous. Outstanding. Excellent experience. Awesome (One of these is followed by four very large exclamation marks). Mindblowing. Really cool!, Very good value.

Impressive. Thumbs up! Smashing! Fascinating! Thought-provoking. Absolutely great! Absolutely unmissable!   Great find! Thank you, thank you! Lovely, will be back! Well worth the journey! Wonderful little museum: Loved it! Such a friendly museum. What a find! Great value for money!

Some comments are more idiosyncratic: Hi guys! It’s amazeballs! (Belgium)

And these are some of the ways of summing up the appeal:

  • What a gem. So glad we found it.
  • Lots to see, great view and for a very good price.
  • Such a welcoming place with informative staff. Fascinating look into history.
  • A good place to visit with kids (Mexico)
  • What a lovely tiny castle! (Italy)
  • Amazing place to visit. In Australia we think 1850 is ancient!
  • Bonzer museum. Nothing like it in Ozz (Gold Coast, Australia)
  • All so well-presented. I’m very lucky to be here and learn such interesting stories. (Indonesia)
  • Such a history – absolutely enthralling. Never imagined it would be so enlightening
  • Riveting museum, history coming alive! Thoroughly enjoyable. Will recommend.
  • A lovely collection of extraordinary things.
  • Fantastic way to take in the local history.
  • Wonderful to have so much history in this small town. 

Next time Meet the Tower Guides who were singled out repeatedly for their “friendly welcome” and for being “so very knowledgeable”. And after that you can learn what appealed most to children, and their parents, and why.

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Editor’s note: Other quotes included “It’s like going back in time”, “We learned a lot” and “So many interesting artefacts and facts” so do not be surprised if future features cover the doctor’s remedies in the garden, ghosts and a skeleton, man traps and long bows – and last, but not least, some historic stitching. If you’ve never visited the museum, or not in the last few years, you’ll be surprised at what it now includes – and how much history Rye embraces.

Photo: Janet Stott