Andy MaConnell In a Glass of His Own

First Ever Glass Expert on the Antiques Road Show.

Andy McConnell has dealt in antiques since adolescence, but served an apprenticeship in journalism. After working in music, film and television, his return to writing was marked by the publication in 2004 of his tome, The Decanter, An Illustrated History of Glass From 1650. His latest book, Miller’s 20th Century Glass, will be published in August 2006. He writes regularly for numerous newspapers, magazines and guides. He has recently opened a gallery/exhibition centre, Glass Etc, here in Rye. He appeared regularly on The 20th Century Roadshow and recently became the first-ever glass specialist on The Antiques Roadshow, appearing three times in the current series.

In these days of doom and gloom in the antiques world, it is pleasing to report that a newly established shop is already thriving. GLASS etc, a large gallery and exhibition space, opened in the Rope Walk, just before Christmas and is already attracting interest from across south-east England.

The building, comprising a 100 square metre shop with an adjacent exhibition room and workshops, was originally built as a Salvation Army hall and later served for 30 years as the premises of Ann Linguard Antiques. Andy is helped in the new venture by his wife Helen.

The Decanter, An Illustrated History of Glass from 1650 [Antique Collectors’ Club, 2004] is to be followed by a new book for which Andy is currently completing two years of research. 20th Century Glass, to be published by Miller’s in August [2006]. As he explained: ‘I live and breathe glass, but my private collection, built up over 30 years, currently numbers about 20,000 pieces. Most of it is packed in banana boxes in damp storage and I haven’t seen much of it for years. I’m still buying, so opening a shop seemed a logical step.

The exciting thing about GLASS etc. is that it offers so many possibilities. On one hand, we’ve got a great shop with huge windows and it enables me start opening some of my treasure trove of boxes. On the other, we can hold regular exhibitions, some sales-orientated, others simply to demonstrate what a dynamic, interesting and historic substance glass is’.

GLASS etc. specialises in table and lighting glass dating from c1700 to the present: bowls, vases, drinking-glasses, decanters, stained-glass panels, etc. It also stocks a wide range of other items, including architectural salvage such as door-knobs, hinges, knockers, etc.

The first exhibition, The Glass Salt Cellar, 1750-1980, will ran from April 10 until the end of May. The show centred on Andy’s collection of over 300 examples, mostly British and generally dating between c1770-1820, the classic period of British glass-cutting.

GLASS Etc. is open 7-days-a-week: 10.30-5 weekdays; 12-5pm Sundays. Admission to exhibitions are free.

Cinque Ports Speakers Day

From the June 2006 issue of “Rye’s Own”

The Campaign for a Democratic Rye group has taken all three seats on offer at the two recent by-elections. The latest, on 31 August, saw a turn out of over 20% give a clear win to both CDR candidates.

Eric Streeton, a born and bred Ryer, topped the poll with 326 votes and passionate Ryer by choice, Dr. Keith Taylor was second just eleven votes behind.

At the previous by-election in June, for one place, CDR candidate Sonia Holmes won the seat in similar style.

These two results are a good indication that the people of Rye are not happy with the present District and County domination of local affairs.

The CDR is in the process of preparing a report and proposals for implementing a better system. The following is an introduction to that report.

The Campaign for a Democratic Rye was formed just over a year ago in response to a series of major failures in local government greatly affecting this historic Sussex town. At the heart of the problem was the lack of a voice by local people in directing their own affairs.

In this respect Rye is in no way unique. Problems with local governmentare being seen all over Britain.

Nevertheless, within Rye the difficulties experienced were especially acute.

Rye is no ordinary small market town. Historically. It joined the Cinque Ports Confederation in the Middle Ages to help with coastal defence, it enjoyed some special rights and privileges and a large
degree of autonomy, even then.

Architecturally, it has retained some of its town walls and fortifications, and its medieval street plan. There is a wealth of Tudor and Georgian architecture. Its atmosphere has attracted generations of writers and artists and continues to attract very large numbers of visitors, now estimated to be as great as a million a year. It is internally acclaimed tourist centre and a unique asset to Britain.

Rye lost its Borough Status under the terms of a local government reform Act of 1972 and came under the general jurisdiction of a District Council, in Bexhill. Its Town Council was left with very few powers.
Thus it had only an advisory role in important areas such as planning.  At the same time, various organisations which were un-elected took over many of the Town Councils functions. Some of these were derived from Regional Government such as a local partnership in the case of Rye. A recent report form the Audit Commission has emphasised that
such organisation may neither be transparent nor fully accountable, as far as the local community is concerned.

Within Rye, a series of unpopular decisions, made by outside organisations and without adequate consultation, greatly inflamed local opinion.
A large public meeting endorsed the formation of a new group. “The Campaign for a Democratic Rye”. This was charged with the task of examining the feasibility of restoring power to a democratically elected Town Council.

This organisation has already received much local support and now has three Town Councillors.

In what follows, we shall discuss the history of government in Rye, the powers that were surrendered to Bexhill in the 1970s, the present
way in which Rye is governed and our proposals for the future. We realise that the government itself may, later this year, produce a White Paper on changes in local government. This is however likely
to be argued about at great length before any proposals are accepted.

The need for change in the system of local government in Rye is however an urgent one. We do not feel we should wait for government changes
that may not in any case benefit us. In the interim, we are presenting therefore out own report of what we think needs to be done.

The people of Rye have a long history of sturdy independence. They deserve something better than the present system of local government which has denied them for far too long a full say in determining their own affairs.”

Rye eagerly awaits this report and will look at the impact that the ‘gang of three’ can have on the other thirteen Rye Councillors. Even now, Rye could begin to press for major devolvement of power from
Rother. Moreover, there is nothing to prevent Rye from using its limited existing authority to introduce improvements, like a safe cycle/pathway to circumnavigate the town – as Sonia Holmes has suggested.


The Right Worshipful Mayor of Rye and Speaker of the Cinque Ports, Councillor Paul Osborne, entertained The Lord Warden, Admiral Lord
Boyce and Mayors, Macebearers and dignitaries from every Cinque Port and Limb in the Confederation on Speaker’s Day Saturday 16 September.

A colourful procession made its way from the Town Hall to St. Mary’s via Pump Street and Church Square where the Dean of Chichester was
present to read the sermon.

After the service the gathering made their way to The newly refurbished George Hotel where they enjoyed an excellent lunch.

The ceremony took place at Rye as it is the turn of the Ancient Town to hold the Speakership in 2006. Speaker of the Cinque Ports is an old position that dates back to the Middle Ages but Speaker’s Day
was first introduced in 1992 by former Rye Mayor John Ciccone.

There are only two official Speakers in England, the other one resides in the Houses of Parliament.

From the June 2006 issue of “Rye’s Own”

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The Oak Inn

This very rare photograph, from the Frank Palmer Collection, is of Rye’s ‘Unknown Inn’.

The Oak Inn, situated in the building very recently part vacated by Ollio Books and the Rye Art Galleries Easton Rooms, was active for a period of three years or so a little over 100 years ago.
By 1903, a year after this photograph was taken, the premises had become a tea shop.

A close inspection of the picture reveals that “The Oak” was a Style & Wynch outlet. Continue reading The Oak Inn