The Model

A visit to Rye should always begin with a visit to the famous Rye Town model. The sound and light show telling “The Story of Rye”  in 2022 has been updated with projections that allow the story to come alive even more!

The History of The Model

Work started on building the Town Model back in 1973 when Joy Harland and her husband Ted decided to embark on this real labour of love following a trip to Ghent where they saw a similar show and were inspired to create something amazing for their home town of Rye.

After three years and more of painstaking research and construction using a variety of materials, including recycled TV packaging, bottle brushes, cardboard and a lot of glue, their task was complete.

Finally, they revealed their master creation to the public exhibiting first in the old boy’s School in Mermaid Street and ultimately being taken on by Rye Town Council and given a permanent home in The Old Sail Loft at Strand Quay. The attention to detail and accuracy of this scale model of the town as it was in the mid 19th century is quite something to see – brought to life in the accompanying audiovisual show,

After nearly thirty years of operation, the Town Model and operation of the Heritage Centre were handed over to the Rye Heritage Centre Charity in 2020, happily continuing the tradition of introducing the history of this medieval town to visitors and residents alike. Recent visitors have included a large family group from Granddad to great-grandchildren who have been sure to bring 4 successive generations to see the model and experience the show.

The charity has also embarked on a five-year programme of renewal and regeneration of the Heritage displays and introduction of new attractions, the first of which will see the history of local smuggling told in a new interactive walk-through experience expected to open in time for the 2022 summer season.


The sound and light show is available in English, French, Spanish & German. With subtitles being added in other languages in Summer 2022.

Your Guide To Rye

See it for yourself

Book your tickets here.

Your visit

Every visit to Rye should include a trip to one of the most popular attractions in town – Rye Heritage Centre. Explore the rich history in which your very footsteps will follow.


More than 10 people visiting? Experience private showings and talks with exclusive group rates.


Working with schools & colleges we can provide educational materials and talks for many subjects.


Ghost tours, historical tours and more can be purchased directly from the center or here online.