The Mermaid Inn, established in the 1100’s and rebuilt in 1420, is the most stunning building in the plethora of magical houses which populate the ancient medieval village of Rye, East Sussex, England. The Inn is near the top of the famed cobblestone Mermaid Street; the former Middle Street which has been Rye’s main thoroughfare for over a millennium. The infamous Hawkhurst gang of smugglers hung about here in the 1730s and 40s with their loaded pistols spread out on the tables and defiant expressions on their faces. Nobody bothered them.
The Mermaid Inn has a myriad of secret tunnels (as does all of Rye. It’s a wizard town, like Hogsmeade) including one which leads to the cellars of the Old Bell Inn (built 1390) on The Mint, the curving street north of Mermaid Street. Themed Dickensian guestrooms boast beautifully carved beds, Caen stone fireplaces, and latticed windows; the head of a secret stairway is concealed behind the bookcase in the Dr. Syn room; and an assortment of ghosts have been seen so frequently by convincingly terrified visitors that it is considered the most haunted Inn of England.
The Lounge Bar has an enormous open log fireplace- tall and deep enough for grown men to walk about in- with beams that traverse the width of the room supported on stone piers. In the chimney breast (the portion of wall that projects forward over a fireplace) is a Priest’s Hole where Catholic priests were hidden.
Image by Daves Portfolio (no apostrop he in Daves) on flickr. If you’re interested in Rye
you can be my best friend for life here are some excellent photostreams on flickr for pix: Louise and Colin, JR P, and Daves Portfolio.