Its been confirmed. I am staying for a night at the Mermaid Inn in the rather quaint and historic town of Rye in East Sussex.
Whats so special about the Mermaid Inn you might well ask? Well, The Mermaid is unquestionably the most beautiful of all smugglers’ inns and undoubtedly one of the loveliest of all the inns in England. It stands in Mermaid Street, for which thoroughfare it is claimed – and justly claimed – that no other street in the world exhibits such a wealth of antiquity; and of this antiquity the best specimen is the Mermaid Tavern.
I am staying in room 15 which apparently has great atmosphere and significance, more of which I aim to find when I spend the night there. Lets hope its not haunted! Or if it is, that I can video the evidence.
The wonderful old timber framed building was rebuilt in 1420 but go back further in time and there are the remains of its original incarnation to about 1156 when the town of Rye was a busy and important port and one of the Cinque Towns. But the period I am dealing with in particular in my documentary is that of 1740’s to 1750’s. The infamous Hawkhurst Gang of smugglers, numbering 600 men, were frequent users of the Mermaid Inn. A gentleman born in Rye in 1740 remembered: “when the Hawkhurst Gang were at the height of their pride and insolence having seen them (after successfully running a cargo of goods on the seashore), seated at the windows of this house (the
Mermaid) carousing and smoking their pipes, with their loaded pistols lying on the table before them; no magistrate daring to interfere with them”.
I can’t wait to explorer more!