For more than 900 years the Parish Church of St Mary’s Rye, has dominated the hill on which the old town stands.
It has the oldest working church tower clock in the country. There are a pair of cherubs perched on the bell tower of St Mary’s Church which were fitted with complex clockwork mechanisms that allow them to chime the bell at quarter past the hour, hence the name bestowed on them by the town ‘The Quarter Boys.’
The ‘new’ clock was installed in about 1561-2 and was made by the Huguenot, Lewys Billiard. It is one of the oldest functioning turret clocks in the clocks in the country. The pendulum, a much later addition, swings in the body of the church. The present exterior clock face and the original ‘Quarter Boys’ were added in 1760.
Once we come out of lockdown the church tower will be open again to the public. Climb the tower to view the clock works and enjoy magnificent views of the town and Romney Marsh. Stained glass windows include two donated by E F Benson and one designed by Edward Burne Jones.
Check the website to find opening times for the tower.
Other religious houses in Rye
St Anthony of Padua, Watchbell Street
Believed to be the only Spanish-Romanesque church in Britain.
Augustinian Friars, Conduit Hill
The Monastery building in Conduit Hill is the remains of an Austin Friars Chapel dating from around 1380 and the only settlement of the Austin Friars in Sussex. The building has served as a refuge for persecuted Huguenots in the 16th century, a hospital during the First World War barracks for the army and a pottery. Now Alex MacCarthur Interiors
Image Credits: Nick Forman , Mags Ivatt .