Celebrating 700 Years of Rye Mayoral History

Celebrations that Did Not Happen in 1889 and Those That Did in 1989

Early in the 1890’s the names of all known Mayors of Rye were painted on the wall panels of the Town Hall Chamber.

This was paid for by John Amos Woodhams and Francis Bellingham to commemorate their years in office as Mayors 1889 and 1890. Somehow the date of the first known Mayor was partly transposed reading 1298 instead of 1289.

On 15 March 1899 a public meeting was called by the Mayor Isaac Longley (of Longley’s Corner fame) with the object of making arrangements for celebrating the six hundredth anniversary of Rye’s Mayoralty.


At this time the Mayoral year ran from 9 November until 8 November the following year. Unfortunately Isaac Longley died suddenly on 9 June 1899; and no more is heard of the six hundredth anniversary.

The sad scene at the funeral of the Mayor of Rye Isaac Longley as

Dates are Corrected For 700th. Anniversary

With the dates corrected Rye Town Council decided to celebrate the seven hundredth year of mayoralty in 1989 with events throughout the year.

The Mayor and Town Clerk went to Bexhill and asked Rother for funds to enable the people of Rye to celebrate this anniversary: we suggested £10,000 and this sum was agreed.

Any group in the town could apply for a grant from the Town Council to produce an event based on the seven hundredth theme.

I will remind readers of some of the events that took place in 1989. Seven hundred red balloons were released on Mayor Making Day. One of the finest events was the procession through the town, dance routines and a play on The Salts by the schools of Rye.

Rye Then & Now

Rye in Bloom 1989 BEATING THE BOUNDS 1989

Another very colourful day was the procession of all the Mayors of the Cinque Ports in full regalia with mace bearers and maces, round the ancient streets of Rye.

‘Rye in Bloom’ was launched, with beautiful Rye Pottery commemorative plates for the winners, and a loving cup for the child growing the tallest sunflower. A mug for every child living in Rye, hand thrown at Rye Pottery.

A Grand Firework Display ( no Bonfire Boys this time). ‘Beating the Bounds’ was another event, the first time the correct bounds had been beaten since 1928.

Firework Display 1989

A Medieval Market in the High Street. New litter bins were provided with the date and the Cinque Ports Arms. East Sussex County Council came up with the ‘period’ street lamps we see today in the town, replacing the concrete ones.

These are just a few of the events that took place throughout 1989.

Mayors of the Cinque Ports Processing through Pump Street
Mayors of the Cinque Ports Processing through Pump Street

And here are a few that took place in 1989

“Rye’s Own” July 2004

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