The George is one of Rye's oldest coaching inns, originally established c.1575. It's thought the name comes from St. George, as the hotel predates any King George's.
Originally occupying another premises, The George moved to its current location on Rye's High Street in 1719. Its white frontage, dating from the early 18th century, acts as a frontispiece for a timber structure at least 200 years older.
The hotel was gradually added to up until the Regency period, and comprises a series of interconnecting buildings all surrounding a central courtyard. The ballroom, for example, was built in 1818 as an assembly room for farmers who came to market.
Luckily keeping many of its original features, The George incorporates beams from an Elizabethan galley, while the original fireplace can be seen in the Tap. Down the hall, a Gill Parliamentary clock still ticks, dating from the 1700s, while a cupboard resembling a dumb waiter is actually an 18th century wig store.
The George has always been the focal meeting point in the town, entertaining three King Georges, Wellington and the Mayor of London. This was spurred on after 1778, when the first coach - The Diligence - commenced journeys between Rye and London (each way lasted 16 hours), with The George becoming the town's posting and meeting house. Banquets and toasts were held at any opportunity (one of the more justifiable occasions being Napoleon's defeat). There was also the darker side to Rye in the 18th century, when the town became known for smuggling and was embroiled by competition between rival gangs (the most renowned being the Hawkhurst Gang).
At the beginning of the 20th century, The Benson Room (a 17th century long gallery that now hosts private dining and events) was used as a masonic lodge. But over the next few decades, The George became pretty run down, passing hands between successive hotel groups. The hotel was bought by the current owners in 2004, and after a twelve month renovation, the hotel reopened in late 2006.