Rye Castle

Rye Castle
Part of the City of Rye
East Sussex in England
The Ypres Tower
The Ypres Tower
Location in East Sussex
Location in East Sussex
Rye Castle
Location in East Sussex
Coordinates 50°56′59.35″N 0°44′8.11″E / 50.9498194°N 0.7355861°E / 50.9498194; 0.7355861Coordinates: 50°56′59.35″N 0°44′8.11″E / 50.9498194°N 0.7355861°E / 50.9498194; 0.7355861
Type Castle
Site information
Open to
the public
Condition Standing
Site history
Built 1249[1]
Built by King Henry III
In use 1249-

Rye Castle, also known as Ypres Tower, was built in the 13th or 14th centuries,[1] and is situated in Rye, East Sussex, England. It is a Grade I listed building and has been scheduled as an ancient monument.[2][3]


The exact date of construction is unclear although the possibility of creating a castle at Rye was mentioned in documents of 1226 and 1249.[2] In 1329 Murage was applied for and works carried out during the 14th century before and after attacks by the French.[2] Rye became one of the cinque ports and was involved in both defence and trade.[4] It was originally called "Baddings Tower".[5][6]

The castle may have been used as a prison and in 1430 became the property of John de Iprys; which lead to the name Ypres Tower.[2] In the 16th century it was used as a prison and courthouse with a full-time gaoler being appointed in 1796.[7] An exercise yard was added and then a women's prison in 1837.[8] The prison function continued until 1891.[2] It then became the town's morgue.[9]

The tower was damaged during air raids in World War II and has been repaired and restored since then.[2]


Gibbet with skeleton in the cell in the tower

The three-storey castle is of iron-stained sandstone. It has a square plan with a round towers at each corner. The door in the north side is protected by a portcullis.[2]

Rye Castle Museum

Ypres Tower is one of two sites of Rye Castle Museum and is a grade I listed building.[2] Exhibits in the tower include locally-made medieval pottery, an embroidery depicting many aspects of Rye life and history, medieval artifacts, activities and town maps.

The East Street Site, a former brewer's bottling factory, is the main exhibit area for the Rye Castle Museum. Opened in 1999,[10] the local history exhibits include fire fighting equipment, trade changes caused by the sea's retreat, maritime history and shipbuilding, antique toys and games, photos, town seals, and archaeological artifacts.[11][12]


  1. ^ a b "CastleXplorer - Rye Castle". CastleXplorer. Archived from the original on 19 February 2012. Retrieved 31 December 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Historic England. "THE YPRES TOWER (1251521)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 27 July 2014.
  3. ^ "Ypres Tower and part of Rye Town Wall -Scheduled ancient monument". National HeritageListfor England. Historic England. Archived from the original on 6 July 2019. Retrieved 8 March 2020.
  4. ^ "The History of the Cinque Ports". Rye Museum. Retrieved 8 March 2020.
  5. ^ "Rye Ypres Tower". Gatehouse. Archived from the original on 10 September 2016. Retrieved 8 March 2020.
  6. ^ "Ypres Tower". Pastscape. Historic England. Archived from the original on 29 September 2017. Retrieved 8 March 2020.
  7. ^ "Rye Historic Character Assessment Report" (PDF). West Sussex. p. 25. Retrieved 8 March 2020.
  8. ^ "Womens' Tower, former prison cells and exercise yard - Listed Building". National Heritage List for England. Historic England. Retrieved 8 March 2020.
  9. ^ "Rye Castle and Town Defences". Castles Forts Battles. Archived from the original on 10 March 2019. Retrieved 8 March 2020.
  10. ^ East Street Site Archived 30 January 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "Rye Castle Museum (East Street)". Visit 1066 Country. Retrieved 8 March 2020.
  12. ^ "Rye Castle Museum". England Rover. Retrieved 8 March 2020.

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