Haunted Mermaid Inn in Rye

Haunted Mermaid Inn in Rye
The perfect place for an overnight stay on Christmas Eve might be the Nutcraker (yes I know, I want to add another “c” as well.) Suite at the Mermaid Inn located in the town of Rye, England. Unless of course you are worried about the lady in white who often walks across the floor of the room. She might even pause and give you a look on her way by your bed.

It might be fun to stay in the room known as Dr. Syn’s Bedchamber, known for the secret stair case hidden behind the bookcase.

The Mermaid Inn in East Sussex in southeastern England has been around since the 12th century, with the current building dating from 1420. The cellars, built in 1156, still exist.

Constructed of ships’ timbers and Sussex Oak, there are even fireplaces carved from French stone that was rescued from the sea harbor.

In the beginning, the Inn was a place for sailors to lodge while in the busy port of Rye. The Inn also brewed its own ale for a time.

In 1377 the French destroyed all buildings in the town of Rye not built of stone including The Mermaid, with only the cellar surviving from this original building.

The Inn was renovated in the 1420s and again in the 16th century. In 1530 the building was a safe haven for Catholic monks fleeing from continental Europe.

During the mid-1500s the town of Rye held celebrations at The Mermaid Inn.

In the 1730s, 40s and into the 1750s, the Inn was used in a smuggling operation by the Hawkhurst gang and there are still secret tunnels running under the street from the cellars of The Mermaid Inn.

By 1847, it was used as a private residence owned by a merchant, Charles Poile. I was unable to find out much about Mr. Poile. It appears he was married to Symantha Blackburn (I love this name.) and their date of deaths are unknown. I did find a reference from January 19, 1856 in the Court for Relief of Insolvent Debtors indicating “Charles Poile, late of Rye, Sussex” was Insolvent.

In 1913 the establishment was run as a club that catered to artists including Dame Ellen Terry , Lord Alfred Douglas, and Rupert Brooke.

During World War II Canadian officers were stationed at the Inn to protect the town. One of the officers eventually purchased the Inn.

The Mermaid can even boast of being used to host a luncheon for her Majesty the Queen Mother during a visit to Rye in 1982.

The Mermaid Inn was purchased by Judith Blincow and Robert Pinwell in 1993, who enjoy catering to their guests through their overnight lodging services and award winning restaurant.

Now back to the hauntings…..

Many of the rooms at The Mermaid are considered to be haunted, in addition to the Nutcraker Suite, Room 5.

In Room 1, the James room, a lady in white is often reported to be seen sitting in a chair by the fireplace. Many guests have also claimed to have found their clothing to be wet when left on the chair overnight.

Guests in the Fleur de Lys room have reported seeing a man walking out of the bathroom wall and across the bedroom. They spent the night in the lounge and refused to return to the room for their luggage.

In the Hawkhurst Suite, an American lady guest reported that a man in old-fashioned clothes sat down next to her on the bed during the night.

Other activity at the Inn includes odd lights during the night hours, bottles falling off of shelves, cold spots and rocking chairs that rock for no reason at all. The apparition of a maid, said to be the girlfriend of one of the members of the Hawkhurst gang has been seen at the Inn as well. The story is that she was murdered by a cohort of her boyfriend because she knew too much about the gang’s activity.

For references and additional information:





• Chantler, Bob (2010). Rother Country: a Short History and Guide to the River Rother in East Sussex, and the Towns and Villages near to the River. Bob Chantler. GGKEY:RD76BJL3758. Retrieved 21 July 2011.

• Collins, Sophie (2007). A Sussex Miscellany. Alfriston: Snake River Press. ISBN 978-1-906022-08-2.

• Croot, Viv (2010). Salacious Sussex. Alfriston: Snake River Press. ISBN 978-1-906022-14-3.

• Holloway, William (1847). The history and antiquities of the ancient town and port of Rye, in the county of Sussex: With incidental notices of the Cinque Ports. London: J.R. Smith. Retrieved 21 July 2011.

• Nairn, Ian; Pevsner, Nikolaus (1965). The Buildings of England: Sussex. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.ISBN 0-14-071028-0.

• Stuart, Donald (2005). Old Sussex Inns. Derby: The Breedon Books Publishing Co. ISBN 1-85983-448-5.

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