John Royle 1933-2019

John Royle

We regret to report that Lt Cdr John Royle RD RNR passed away on Saturday, October 19. Aged 86, he died peacefully, having been taken into the Conquest hospital only the day before with severe anaemia. Our condolences are with his wife Liz and family.

John Royle had a full life and an interesting career, serving in the hydrographic department of the Royal Navy and once coming into Rye Bay on board the survey ship HMS Vidal. Later demobbed and ashore, he became a partner in the architects and surveyors’ practice of Lefevre, Wood and Royle, based in Rye.

John Royle in the ‘Upper Deck’ at the Sea Cadets

He kept his interest in the sea throughout his life. He joined the Rye Sea Cadets in about 1967 and served as committee member, chairman and president ever since.

Paul Whiteman writes “He put his expertise to great use on behalf of the Unit in drawing up plans for any building extensions and following these through to supervise the actual building. He was an active member of the Unit Committee, attending nearly all meetings and ceremonial events. He organised our Christmas Punch and Mince Pies event for many years. He was also an active member of the Rye Harbour Sailing Club, competing in local and cross channel races as well as cruising far and near.”

He was a member of HoRAC, the Harbour of Rye Advisory Committee and was maritime consultant for the Rye Conservation Society, reporting regularly on the shipping traffic coming into Rye Wharf. He was knowledgable about many things, a gentle modest man and a friend.


Image Credits: Paul Whiteman , Kenneth Bird .


  1. So sad to hear of John’s death. He was a true gentleman and always approachable, knowledgeable and generous, particularly as a partner at LW&R welcoming me as a new assistant architect. I remember welcoming us aboard his yacht at Strand Quay with Prosecco which his over-efficient fridge had turned to ice!

  2. John Royle was a dear sailor friend who I first met with Liz at the RHSC when arriving at Mermaid Street in 1996. Although never sailing in his boat, he accompanied me in mine on passages to France, and racing around the buoys from time to time, during which I gained many useful skills from this knowledgeable and and highly accomplished sailor. Socially we would meet at the Club or I’d drop by for a chat and a coffee at their home by the water. On one occasion he loaned me Liz to compete in the annual Ladies Race of the RHSC, she finished 2nd, and it is with her that my heartfelt sympathies now rest.

  3. John was indeed a friend, a gentleman and a marvellous sailing teacher as I was lucky enough to find out. He, Liz , my 1st husband and I took part in a sailing club midnight race to Le Crotoy (we won!) then cruised along the coast westwards till we crossed the Solent to leave him to then take part in the Round the Island Race. He taught me so much in that gentle way of his.
    My thoughts are with Liz and their family. What a loss!

  4. This family, Buchanan’s, Gunning-Stevenson’s and Coopers are grieving John’s death from Australia. Our children were together at school, in Playden, at parties and to watch the birth of lambs at Oxenbridge farm in Iden.
    John and Liz have been our friends for over 50 years and, to them we owe their unwavering support and friendship through thick and thin. John has always been a true gentleman and, a totally dependable friend. Their visits to us, in Brisbane, although not often enough, have always been a joy.
    John will always be missed and this family join me in sending Liz, Mark, Christopher and all their family our deepest sympathy.


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