The Ypres Tower is thought to have been built in the early 14th century as part of the town’s defences and is the second oldest building open to the public in Rye. (The oldest is St Mary’s church.)
The Tower has had a chequered history and as you look round the inside you can see some of those changes in the blocked windows and doorways.
From the balcony you can look over what was once one of the largest and most important harbours in the country. In the C16th it was England’s seventh busiest port; now there is farmland where once there was sea. There are good views from the balcony in all directions, and guides to tell you what you are seeing.
In the Tower are various exhibits. The newest is a replica of the gibbet with skull of John Breads whose story is told here. Other recent additions are a new model of the changes in the local shoreline and the Ypres Tower Embroidery, created by a team of stitchers over a period of several years and depicting the Tower’s roles through nine centuries of history — as defence, private home, prison, mortuary, museum . . . .