This photograph taken outside The Bell on Bonfire Night captures the very atmosphere of the place. It has always been known as a meeting place for Ryers and holiday makers alike.
It is possibly the oldest pub in Rye, difficult to date historically but some parts are believed to be over 500 years old. A tavern was recorded on the site as early as 1420.
It is mentioned in the “Inns of England” as the headquarters of the vile Hawkhurst smuggling gang who also frequented the Mermaid Inn around the 1700 period.
Situated where the Mint joins the High Street it has always been a convenient meeting place for businessmen of the town to gather and lunch. Who knows what deals have been made in the secluded corners of the bar.
The Bell Inn was active throughout World War Two. It became a favourite place for naval staff stationed at H.M.S. Haig (The Secondary Modern School in New Road) to spend their off duty evenings. On V.E. Day Naval ratings decided they would ring the bell over the pub entrance. They clambered up using a wall of bodies to stand on, and tied a rope to the bells clapper. The bell was successfully rung for a while until the clapper broke free and landed on one of the sailors below. Needless to say he suffered a headache for a few days. The bell has never utter a chime since.
After the War the pub kept its popularity and attracted an element of the ‘arty’ crowd as regulars. But the Inn has never been ‘type faced’ its great attraction is in the variety of customers that cross its threshold.
This summer has seen the terrace filled with outside diners on many days, more like a scene in a French street.
Ye Olde Bell Inn may be old but it is never dated and remains as popular now as it ever was.