The Union Inn East Street

            The Pubs of Rye no. 2

By David Russell

The Union Inn which recently closed has joined the ranks of the ‘Lost Pubs’ of Rye. The building was originally two 16th century cottages and a small shop. The cottages may have been licensed centuries ago, but by the 19th century the building was owned by John Swain and occupied by his under tenant John Hunter, who converted one of the cottages into the Union beer house in 1830.

John Hunter  was keen to become fully licensed, and applied annually over the next three years. His application was granted in 1833 and he became ‘a fully licensed man’.

However, a full licence did not guarantee immediate success, and for some years he also worked as a self-employed tailor during the day while his wife Sarah ran the pub. John Hunter died in 1839, after which the licence was transferred to his widow.

Union Inn Advertisement c. 1835

In 1841 the pub was sold, and a deed tells us that: ‘John Hunter, landlord and under tenant of John Swain, sometime since converted these premises into a public house bearing the sign of the Union Inn’.

A valuation of the property in 1861 shows the licence was then held by their son James and thus, for 30 years the pub was run, but not owned, by the Hunter family. The valuation describes the Union at that time as a very small house, with only one public room separated into a bar and a bar parlour by a partition.

The valuation lists one bedroom but no accommodation for letting. It had a kitchen and wash house at the rear of the building and was attached to a small shop next door previously used by John Hunter as a tailoring shop. At some later date the pub was enlarged when the two cottages and the shop were integrated.

The valuation tells us that the bar parlour had seats.

“Rye’s Own” February 2013

All articles, photographs and drawings on this web site are World Copyright Protected. No reproduction for publication without prior arrangement.