The Old Bell to ring again


Punch Taverns, the owners of the Old Bell on The Mint, have put in a planning application to refurbish it, one of the oldest pubs in Rye.

Rye residents will already have noticed that the pavement in front of the Old Bell has been closed for a number of months to protect passing pedestrians from falling masonry. The proposed work includes large repairs to the exterior of the mock Tudor first floor facade, which at the moment have been stabilised with chipboard.

In addition, the contractors will be undertaking repairs to the leaded light windows and defective guttering, which has overflowed for some time and caused the wooden beams to rot.

In their report alongside the planning application, vernacular buildings adviser K J Quantrill highlighted that the Old Bell is a grade two listed building and said, “It would appear that the facade has undergone a large number of repairs in the past and not all in the appropriate materials. On a positive note, it would appear from the initial survey that the older original timber framed building behind the Tudor facade has not been adversely affected.”

The precise date that the Old Bell was built is not clear but former publicans Paul and Lucie spun an interesting tale, “Ye Olde Bell was built in the 15th century and a further extension added around 200 years later. The name originates from an episode in Rye’s history from 1377 whereby a French raid on the town ended up with them stealing the bells from St Mary’s church, and almost completely devastating the town by fire.

“Not a town to take things lying down, the men of Rye and Winchelsea set sail in 1378 to wreak their revenge on the French coast and returned with the bells and other loot stolen the year before. One of the bells was later hung in Watchbell Street to warn of subsequent French attacks on the town.”

Image Credits: Kevin McCarthy .

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