Part of the great attraction of a town like Rye is that with its ancient walls, cobbled streets and buildings, it seems almost suspended in time, but while many such towns can fall into the trap of becoming rather twee versions of an imagined rather than real past, Rye has managed to retain both its architectural treasures and a strongly beating mercantile heart.

A verdigris coloured French rise and fall pulley light hangs from the very tall ceiling over a long, narrow, scrubbed wooden refectory table that has a collection of vintage school and bentwood chairs around it and a jug of simple English garden flowers at one end

A verdigris coloured French rise and fall pulley light hangs from the very tall ceiling over a long, narrow, scrubbed wooden refectory table that has a collection of vintage school and bentwood chairs around it and a jug of simple English garden flowers at one end

A duck egg blue tiled alcove houses a woodburning stove

A duck egg blue tiled alcove houses a woodburning stove

“I’ve been toying with the idea of putting in a fitted kitchen here, but I like to be able to move things around.

“I’ve been toying with the idea of putting in a fitted kitchen here, but I like to be able to move things around."

Above the old-fashioned, porcelain sink, shelves that support a collection of Cornish creamware have been lined with newspaper with a precisely cut zigzag edge, so that it looks like bunting

Above the old-fashioned, porcelain sink, shelves that support a collection of Cornish creamware have been lined with newspaper with a precisely cut zigzag edge, so that it looks like bunting

The drawing room, painted in F&B’s Light Blue, features a dark mushroom coloured, tweed covered corner sofa, dressed with pale chartreuse green and dark navy cushions and a striped throw

The drawing room, painted in F&B’s Light Blue, features a dark mushroom coloured, tweed covered corner sofa, dressed with pale chartreuse green and dark navy cushions and a striped throw

A riotous mix of oils, watercolours and pastel pictures and drawings line one wall

A riotous mix of oils, watercolours and pastel pictures and drawings line one wall

Just off the entrance hall, the study provides a peaceful space for Sarah to work in

Just off the entrance hall, the study provides a peaceful space for Sarah to work in

Next to a long sofa, covered with a vintage wool blanket, hangs a waxed schoolroom map of France

Next to a long sofa, covered with a vintage wool blanket, hangs a waxed schoolroom map of France

The entrance hall, swathed in bunting, is home to an upright piano as well as several accordions. On top of the piano sits a Len Shelley bird artwork that Sarah bought her husband for his 40th birthday

The entrance hall, swathed in bunting, is home to an upright piano as well as several accordions. On top of the piano sits a Len Shelley bird artwork that Sarah bought her husband for his 40th birthday

One end of the landing is papered in ‘Woods’ by Cole & Son and looks rather like a forest of bare birch trees. A giant embroidered and beaded Union Jack tapestry hangs boldly on one wall, whilst a comfy armchair is placed next to a set of full-to-bursting bookshelves

One end of the landing is papered in ‘Woods’ by Cole & Son and looks rather like a forest of bare birch trees

A giant embroidered and beaded Union Jack tapestry hangs boldly on one wall, whilst a comfy armchair is placed next to a set of full-to-bursting bookshelves

A giant embroidered and beaded Union Jack tapestry hangs boldly on one wall

The bed in the master bedroom is dressed with bright, Collier Campbell bedlinen featuring a zinnia-like floral pattern

The bed in the master bedroom is dressed with bright, Collier Campbell bedlinen featuring a zinnia-like floral pattern

Sarah’s collection of necklaces hangs from a row of salvaged school coat hooks

Sarah’s collection of necklaces hangs from a row of salvaged school coat hooks

Along the landing, the main bedroom has a stack of vintage cases and boxes and a classic late 1930s oak wardrobe that belonged to Sarah’s grandad

The main bedroom has a stack of vintage cases and boxes and a classic late 1930s oak wardrobe that belonged to Sarah’s grandad

In the couple’s son’s room a tall shelving unit, made especially for his godson by carpenter Rupert Walton, fills the major part of one wall and is stuffed with an impressively tidy collection of books, CDs, DVDs and a few favourite toys

In the couple’s son’s room a tall shelving unit, made especially for his godson by carpenter Rupert Walton, fills the major part of one wall and is stuffed with an impressively tidy collection of books, CDs, DVDs and a few favourite toys

the Mini Moderns wallpaper that features an eccentric mix of French horns, drums, cockerels and badgers

The Mini Moderns wallpaper features an eccentric mix of French horns, drums, cockerels and badgers

Across the landing, the bathroom has been painted F&B’s Pigeon that neatly emphasises the handsome wooden wall panelling

Across the landing, the bathroom has been painted F&B’s Pigeon that neatly emphasises the handsome wooden wall panelling

A huge rolltop bath stands against the opposite wall, where Sarah has hung a picture of an ocean liner by Claire Fletcher that she bought for her eldest daughter from Made in Hastings

A huge rolltop bath stands against the opposite wall, where Sarah has hung a picture of an ocean liner by Claire Fletcher that she bought for her eldest daughter from Made in Hastings

Fresh foliage in the bathroom

Fresh foliage in the bathroom

The couple’s children have obviously inherited their parents’ love of books and graphic art, too, because they all give books pride of place. In their youngest daughter’s room there is a little sea green bedroom chair with a silk cushion featuring a map of the British Isles, and a table with a milky white rabbit nightlight to banish the dark.

The couple’s children have obviously inherited their parents’ love of books and graphic art, too, because they all give books pride of place. In their youngest daughter’s room there is a little sea green bedroom chair with a silk cushion featuring a map of the British Isles, and a table with a milky white rabbit nightlight to banish the dark

Their elder daughter’s colourful room shows evidence of her love of music

Their elder daughter’s colourful room shows evidence of her love of music

Outside, a shepherd’s hut acts as a retreat for the family

Outside, a shepherd’s hut acts as a retreat for the family

The cosy interior of the shepherd's hut

The cosy interior of the shepherd's hut

A lantern hangs from shelves in the shepherd's hut

A lantern hangs from shelves in the shepherd's hut

In the garden, an impressive treehouse was built by Rupert Walton, the children’s godfather. There is both a rustic ladder and a staircase to the deck and the little cabin has been beautifully constructed from reclaimed materials including a fine Regency style arched window

In the garden, an impressive treehouse was built by Rupert Walton, the children’s godfather. There is both a rustic ladder and a staircase to the deck

and the little cabin has been beautifully constructed from reclaimed materials including a fine Regency style arched window

The little cabin has been beautifully constructed from reclaimed materials including a fine Regency style arched window

“Rupert managed to find all sorts of amazing things both at the Hastings and Bexhill Wood Recycling Project and Symonds Salvage,” says Sarah

“Rupert managed to find all sorts of amazing things both at the Hastings and Bexhill Wood Recycling Project and Symonds Salvage,” says Sarah

  • words:
  • pictures: David Merewether
  • styling: Lucy Fleming

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