Rye Harbour – Holy Spirit

Rye Harbour, flat and marshy and with many gravel-workings, lies near the mouth of the Rother below Rye, but when a church was built it was actually in the parish of Icklesham, though separated from it by the later parish of Winchelsea which lies between the two.  S S Teulon restored Icklesham church between 1848 and 1852 and during that time was diverted to designing a chapel for Rye Harbour, which opened in 1850 (ICBS).  In 1859 he designed a school and house nearby (Saunders p45).

Teulon’s plans show that the nave of the present church was intended as the chancel of a larger one.  Given that the settlement of Rye Harbour never developed to the extent anticipated, it was probably no bad thing that only part was built.  Adelaide Tracy did not draw it, though her future husband was a curate there from 1855 to 1857, but she acquired an engraving (III p112) and a photograph (IV p89) of the church at that time.  The main difference from today is the square east end which has a three-light window.  Unchanged are the trefoiled side-lancets and north west tower-porch, and the material outside is coursed brown stone.  The tower has a square lower stage, then an octagonal one with trefoiled arcading and a stone spire.  Inside is a stone spiral stair and above the entrance inside is a small stone balcony on foliage corbels, intended as an organ loft (ICBS).  More corbels with angels support the roof.

In 1911-12 C S Spooner finished the church on a more modest scale, assisted by W L Grant (ibid) using the same kind of stone but in larger blocks.   Spooner added a rounded apse with flattened ogee-lancets without a chancel arch and completed the west wall, as well as almost certainly doubling Teulon’s south vestry in size, repeating his hipped roof.  The style is quieter than Teulon’s, without detracting from it.  Curiously, the appeal for £1200 (CDG 209 p90) to build it was almost the same as the £1198 0s 8d spent on Teulon’s church (PP 125).

In 1958-61 repairs were carried out by J D Wylson (ICBS).   More recently, the parish has been merged with that of St Mary Rye and Rye Harbour church is a chapel of ease.


Altarpiece: V Fricker, 2000 (BE(E) p613).
Font: Elaborate, inlaid with mosaic and marble.  It rests on darker marble shafts and may be attributed to Teulon.
Pulpit: Obviously of the same date and by the same hand as the font.  According to the church website, it comes from Angmering, West Sussex, which was largely reconstructed by Teulon.

My thanks to Nick Wiseman for the photographs of the interior and the fittings