Rye Harbour Ward (Incorporating Winchelsea Beach) – Icklesham Parish Council

Rye Harbour is a small village and harbour sited at the mouth of the River Rother, in a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) which has an electorate of approximately 288.

This unique harbour has its own fishing fleet, a commercial wharf handling the import and export of grain and aggregate, a public slipway, and a vibrant sailing club which during the summer months is used by visiting and local boat owners.  There is a village shop, a social club and a village hall which plays a major part of the social centre of the village.  Due to its uniqueness Rye Harbour also has a growing group of artists with studios, and a vibrant industrial area which is helping to provide employment for local people.  The village has two public houses, and an RNLI Lifeboat Station with a long and noble history.  This history includes the sad loss of ‘The Mary Stanford’ lifeboat and her crew of 17 Rye Harbour volunteers which capsized while on service in storm force conditions on 15th November 1928 to the Latvian steamer the ‘Alice’ of Riga.  The iconic lifeboat house still stands on the foreshore, and is now Grade II Listed.

Martello Tower (no 28, ‘Enchantress’) a prominent feature in the village was built during the Napoleonic wars and is one of the only towers to be named, instead of just numbered.

The Church of the Holy Spirit stands in a beautiful location and has the distinction of having a very unusual roof in the shape of a ship’s hull. In the ground stands a memorial to all those who lost their lives in the Mary Stanford Lifeboat disaster.

Rye Harbour has its own Nature Reserve with a network of footpaths providing fascinating walks along the sea shore, fields to the remains of Henry VIII’s Camber Castle, and over large areas of shingle as well as the beach.  It also plays a major part in helping to maintain the natural environment of the coast and surrounding area.  There are several hides provided around the reserve for those that like to bird watch.

The village of Winchelsea Beach is a major centre for tourism.  As well as enjoying the advantages of pleasant walks, both inland and coastal, and items of historic interest (much of the village has been under the sea at one time or another), the village is also well supplied with shopping and refreshment facilities.   As with the other wards, there is a range of clubs and societies contributing to community life.