History of The George in Rye



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.

The following list records the landlords of The George....

1575 - Edward Bryan
1648 - William Coaker
1670 - John Prowze
1670 - John Crouch
1707 - John Carr
1709 - John Russell
1722 - Giles Palmer
1724 - William Bird
1731 - Wiltshire Slade
1736 - Michael Woollett
1753 - William Cooper
1756 - Thomas Hovenden
1770 - Thomas Robins
1771 - John Lawrence
1777 - William Brooman
1779 - Desper Rumens
1793 - James Elliott
1794 - Richard Tutt
1796 - Thomas Stockwell
1800 - William Mayo
1804 - John Beake
1807 - John Meryon
1807 - James Rogers
1808 - A Knight
1808 - Thomas Godfrey
1827 - Josiah Hollyer
1835 - Joseph Hollyer
1840 - John Meryon
1845 - Mrs Harriet Hilder
1849 - Edmund Hilder
1859 - Frederick King
1863 - Richard Smith
1877 - WIlliam Cowtan
1900 - Henry Weale
1915 - Mrs Ada Hall
1918 - Walter Wood
1930 - Mrs Annie Wood
1940 - Charles Forte