The Gay Dolphin Hotel, Rye

The little port town of Rye lies atop a hill some five miles inland now, surrounded by the Sussex marshlands. Its cramped position has restrained development and the town has remained virtually unchanged for centuries.
At the peak of the old town is St Mary's Church. The cobbles of Traders Street, in Malcolm Saville's Rye, lead along from the church to end at a wall on the cliff above the town's quay.

On the right of this quiet look-out point stands an old, half-timbered, inn. An archway leads through its side into a cobbled yard, and above the arch swings the inn sign. That mariners' friend, the dolphin, gambols in its painted sea, a wicked gleam in its eye. This is the Gay Dolphin Hotel.

The archway has doors in its sides. The door on the left leads into the hotel and the one on the right into the private part where the owner, Mrs Warrender has her flat.
During the school holidays her son Jon and niece Penny descend on the Inn and move into their rooms.

The Gay Dolphin Inn. Click to enlarge
The Gay Dolphin Hotel
from Traders Street
© John Allsup
Jon's room is beside the Dolphin's sign. Its window sticks out above Traders Street and he can see not only up and down the strreet, but out over the cliff edge away across the marshes to the sea.

The Gay Dolphin. Click to enlarge
The Gay Dolphin Hotel
from the cliff edge
© John Allsup
This view of the hotel shows Traders Street to the right, and Jon's bedroom window. Traders Passage leads across the front of the hotel and drops past its garden wall and tree down steps into the town.
The wall in the foreground is beloved of Penny, its sun warmed bricks are a favourite perch of hers. Below her the boats and sheds of the quay send sounds of the sea to her ears, as her eyes drink in the view.
Penny's room is at the opposite end of the building, looking out across the town and down into a little garden and Traders Passage.

Penny's room has a surprise. A secret stairway twists bedside it into a hidden room in the roof of the inn. This room is 'given' to the youngsters, and here they discover papers and an old map which lead them on a treasure hunt.

Here we are looking through the doorway; daylight streams in through the green glass of the narrow windows on the right while the Dolphin's old oil lamp throws a warmer glow onto the table.
On the table is the smugglers' map, and the big key to the room. Beyond the table a fire burns in the brick fireplace set in the dark oak panelling . . .
secret room. Click to enlarge
The Secret Room
© John Allsup

This page is part of the Malcolm Saville Centenary Website. To enter this site by the front door, click here.
Text and illustrations © John Allsup
Created August 2003