Rye Harbour has an interesting collection of unusual and architect designed coastal homes. The unique and interesting harbour, which runs along the river Rother offers much to the visitor. It has a busy yachting centre, a fishing fleet and some commercial shipping. The village has a lifeboat station with a long and noble history, two public houses one of which has been recently refurbished with a befitting coastal contemporary theme. There is also a village shop and an art gallery/café serving delicious home made cakes.
The mile long road to the village of Rye Harbour follows the route of the Rother to the sea. Nowadays the harbour attracts artists and bird watchers and still retains a working wharf and a respectable fleet of fishing boats. It is notably full of character and worthy, while fiercely independent, of its mother town which way above the gleam of the river and the green of the wharf shines conspicuously on its rock.
The modern lifeboat house dominates the waterfront and slipway. On November 15th 1928 seventeen men from this close knit community lost their lives when the Mary Stamford lifeboat capsized in raging seas. The tragedy touched the hearts of the nation and a disaster fund to assist the widows, children and dependents was opened by the Daily Chronicle. There is a touching memorial at the site of the men’s graves in the churchyard, and memorabilia of the disaster can be seen in the small traditional public house, the William the Conqueror.
The pub forms part of an eclectic mixture of buildings on The Point which all face the sea. Among them is The Watch House, a Grade 11 Listed, former coastguard lookout. It is faced with tarred weather boarding and has a square, three storey observation turret and dates back to the early nineteenth century. To the right of The Point on a small mound is another overgrown Martello Tower – known as ‘The Enchantress Tower’.
Looking directly down the harbour channel to the east, the view is of Rye golf links, carved out of the great swathes of sand dunes that extend down to the seashore and the vast expanse of Camber Sands. In total contrast, the land on the village side of the channel leading down to the seashore, is shingle and home to a vast nature reserve which borders the marshes around Camber Castle, as well as the new Discovery Centre run by Sussex Wildlife Trust with exhibition spaces, a classroom, a wildlife garden, and a highly rated café. Visitors and enthusiasts take up positions along this stretch hoping to catch a sight of the breeding and comings-and-goings of the birds that arrive in their thousands. There is nothing more magical than witnessing the gathering of red-capped goldfinches en route to sunnier climes.
A Martello Tower (No 28) was built at Rye Harbour to defend the area against possible invasion during the Napoleonic wars. Today, lying unoccupied, it provides a picturesque setting.
The church of the Holy Spirit at Rye Harbour stands in a beautiful location with a memorial to all those who lost their lives in the Mary Stanford Lifeboat Disaster in 1928
A footpath leads through the nature reserve which stands between Rye harbour and the shingle beach . There is an opportunity to observe many birds and wildlife from some of the hides. The road connects to the public footpath along the shoreline where it is possible to walk to Winchelsea beach.