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Conservation Society Annual  Awards

2020 Awards

The Committee selected five Award winners for 2020 representing a variety of buildings in Rye. It is intended to present the awards at the Summer Garden Party on 22 August 2021.

A  new a very useful addition to the provision of social and community services for Rye and the surrounding district is the Hub on Rye Hill which we feel is a well designed and important new social asset for the residents of the town. We believe as a new building it fits well in to the rural surroundings and is a welcome place for a meal, a coffee or a meeting.

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The Hub on Rye Hill

Society members will recall the butchers shop Ashbees on the High Street. The shop has now gone but a new venture has taken over run by Imogen and Justin Smithwhich which retains the name and they have done an excellent job preserving the traditional frontage of the shop and the signage, brass fittings etc. as can be seen from the photo below. Inside there is art, quirky and full of colour, filling the walls of the shop, making a powerful impression as one walks in.

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Ashbees 100

Over the road from Ashbees is the old HSBC Bank building which has been transformed into the Rye Bank Gallery, with splendid visual space for the gallery both on the ground floor and in the old vaults. Externally the building looks as it should sitting proudly on the High Street and the owners are to be congratulated for their renovation.

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Rye Bank Gallery

In a prime position on the corner opposite the Landgate is the Outside Inn, a new bar which has taken over the accommodation occupied by Braggins Antique shop which traded there for many years. The inside is bright and airy offering a fantastic view of the ancient Landgate, whilst the building looks very inviting from the outside. A worthy competitor to the Waterworks, our Award winning Inn from last year sited just down the road.

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The Outside Inn

Our final choice is a restaurant which again used to be an antigue shop, but which was previously a well known restaurant, The Old Forge. It is good to see that new owners have done such an interesting job renovating the building into a Rye version of an American diner now known as Tatner's Street Kitchen. Not relevant to our Award but they also provided an excellent take away service during the lengthy lock down 

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Tatner's Street Kitchen

Photos Courtesy of Rye News, Tony McLaughlin

2019 Awards

The Committee agreed to present five Awards for 2019, covering a range of buildings in the town.

We felt that the following were worthy of an Award and these were presented at our well attended Christmas Party in Rye Town Hall in December 2019.

Network Rail were commended for the excellent restoration of the Grade II listed Victorian signal box at Rye Station. NR representatives picked up our certificate at the Christmas Party and I learned recently that our photograph of the box adorns their head offices in London.

A deserved Award went to Merchant and Mills whose shop is a major asset on Cinque Ports Street. People come from far and wide to purchase their unique range of cloths and the building restoration both internally and externally is most impressive.

The Society had been concerned that following the removal of the vine growth from the White House in the High Street that the building was shown to require extensive repointing and given its prominent position on the High Street, this work needed to be done sympathetically. We were very pleased to witness the final outcome and commend James Tomlinson for his excellent restoration work.


Since it opened in May 2018, the Waterworks has grown to be one of the most popular pubs in Rye. It is certainly unusual, being a conversion of a pump house which later became a soup kitchen and eventually a public toilet. David Roder is to be congratulated for overseeing a great conversion of use which shows what can be done with vision and hard work.

One of our members put forward a terraced house in Ferry Road for consideration and the Committee agreed that the conversion had been done in keeping with the neighbouring houses using the correct materials and serves as an excellent

example of restoration of older, but not particularly ancient property.
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2018 Awards
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The Ship Inn won the Society Award for the alteration and refurbishment of an existing building.
For some years members of the Society had been concerned about the deteriorating state of the sign depicting a 19th century Rye built sailing ship, the Madeira Pet. Hessel and Holmes built the Madeira Pet, a wine and fruit schooner of 83 tons, 97 feet long, 18 feet beam.
She was launched by Don Miguel, Pretender to the throne of Portugal. In 1857, while in Guernsey ownership, she became the first ship ever to sail from Europe to Chicago. She sailed there from Liverpool, with 240 tons of cutlery, pottery, paints, glassware and chinaware, and she loaded 4,000 cured cattle hides back, together with a barrel of cured whitefish as a present for Queen Victoria! Her arrival in Chicago, so far from the sea, caused great celebrations in that city. 15 In the middle of the nineteenth century plenty of these fruiterers and wine carriers were owned in Rye. They were very fast schooners, driven hard by small crews of tough men.
Many a time a fruiterer has left London, reached the Downs at a time of south-west wind, sailed straight through the fleet of merchant shipping anchored there waiting for the wind to change, loaded in the Mediterranean, and sailed home to find the same ships still waiting in the Downs! These handy little schooners with their fore-and-aft rig, fine lines, and liveliness on the helm, could be driven against the wind like modern ocean-racing yachts. If steam had not come to knock them out who knows how sailing ships might have developed?
The Society sought the help of a professional sign writer to recreate the old sign which was found to be past restoration. We are grateful to the owners of the Ship for funding the work which looks very smart. The hotel accommodation also has been refurbished to a high standard sympathetic to the original fabric of the building
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2017 Awards

In 2017 the Society Awards highlighted projects that celebrated what makes Rye unique and different, from its historic buildings to the details that make its High Street so different and attractive in contrast with the increasingly bland and faceless shopping streets of most towns.

For many years the future of The Monastery has concerned all the residents of Rye so it is with great pleasure that we said ‘a new star has arisen, not in the East, but on Conduit Hill’. Our first award therefore went to Alex MacArthur for the refurbishment and reuse of The Monastery and for the simple but very imaginative signage.

At a time when all shopping streets look increasingly the same, Rye’s High Street and its range of historic shop-fronts are a vital element in its enduring appeal. Our second award therefore went to Rosie Furnival for the exemplary redecoration and signage of Fig at No 2 High Street. The use of colour in articulating the shop-front and the sophistication and integration of the signage was considered particularly successful.

Finally, among the elements that we need to preserve are the many fragments of visible history that help to illuminate Rye’s past. Our third award was given to Helen Broomfield for the retention of the old shop lettering below that wonderful bay window during the recent refurbishment at The Apothecary.

2016 Awards

During the year it was decided to present the awards at the annual Christmas Gathering held at the Town Hall. So it was fitting that the first award was given to Rye Town Council for their Town Steward initiative. The award was accepted by Deputy Mayor Michael Boyd, who thanked the Society and said that the Town Council hoped to expand on the scheme in the future.

Our second award was given to Mr & Mrs Paul Osbourne for Hawthornedene, their new house on Military Road. Although just outside of the Rye Parish boundary, the Society’s remit covers the surroundings and the setting of Rye, to which the new house was considered to contribute. Mr Osbourne received their certificate and commented that it had been a labour of love on their part.

2015 Awards

Certificates of merit, for contributing to and improving the appearance of Rye by the excellent presentation of their premises, were awarded to Amanda Bheir of the Café on the Quay, Lucy Forrester of the Café des Fleurs and Scott Brotherton of The Standard Inn.

KT and Martin Bruce received a Certificate of Merit for contributing to and improving the appearance of Rye Harbour by the excellent presentation of their house The Saltings, Tram Road, Rye Harbour.

A Craftsmanship Award was presented to Southern Gas Networks and to their contractors, CLC Ltd, for the reinstatement of cobbles in Church Square. This was accepted by Daniel Johnston, Rodney Johnston and Ian Kennard of CLC.

The Townscape Award 2015 was presented to the Fletcher in Rye CIC for a major contribution to life in Rye by the re-use and refurbishment of the historic schoolrooms as Kino Digital. Hugh Kermode and Mike Eve accepted this award, and Rob Pollard of Jonathan Dunn architects was also congratulated. Mike Eve said that it had been a huge effort by a huge number of people, 40 individuals had made financial contributions which had allowed the project to go ahead, Kino itself had made a huge investment and ESCC had given a grant of £100,000. The project was in the running for other awards. Tributes were paid to the late Charlie Parsons and to Freddie Lees for their major contributions to the project. Hugh Kermode commented that all those who had objected in the past had apologised, or were using Kino regularly.

Townscape Awards 2012

High-quality craftsmen’s work in Rye was recognised by the Society at its 2012 annual general meeting in Rye Town Hall on 27 April.


The winners of this year’s Townscape Awards were announced, with three projects winning prizes for the quality of design and workmanship and the enhancement they provide to the ancient town.


The Awards were made to stonemason Kevin Hughes and glazier John Corley for the stonework and stained glass restoration of the West Window of St Mary’s Church. The two craftsmen were commended for their work, which is of the highest quality, and the completed restoration now bathes the nave in glorious light.


A Townscape Highly Commended Award went to the Hope Anchor Hotel for the re-signage on the building at the end of Watchbell Street. The Award was made by the Society to recognise the good design, traditional materials and fine sign-writing skills and was accepted by the hotel’s owner, Mr John Sankey.


A third Townscape Award was made for the re-roofing of St Anthony’s in Church Square, which is probably one of the most photographed buildings in Rye. John Pickering of Rother Valley Roofing was presented with the Award and his work was acknowledged as showing exemplary craftsmanship, since it maintains the character of the old roof, but includes modern insulation within the roof-space.


In 2010, the Award went to Rye Art Gallery, which has since also been awarded one of Sussex Heritage Trust’s Public and Community Architecture Awards.

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