About the Building
The White Vine House: Guesswork and Theory
1340 - The Medieval Cellar
Underneath the main dining room lies a spectacular Medieval vaulted wine cellar, with chutes that emerge to where the roadside kerb is today. This pre-dates the main structure of the building so it is possible that whatever structure lay above it was demolished to make way for this house, or was destroyed during one of the many raids on the town.
1570 – The Whyte Vine House is built
The beautiful oak panelling in our Elizabethan Dining Room and Lounge is amongst the treasures of Rye and dates from around 1570. These stunning rooms were restored in 2005 and for the first time in almost four and a half centuries this exquisite wood saw the light of day. As soon as it was installed it was painted pale green; a further sign of wealth. Queen Elizabeth I visited Rye in August 1573. Perhaps the owner had received her as a guest here and wanted to impress! The timber is French and therefore lighter than traditional English oak as during that era most quality oak in this country was used for ship- building. Each panel was individually formed to fit the timber frame of the room. The room itself was slightly off-square as the timber framework of the building settled in to the foundations, so the skilled master-craftsmen had to make each panel to individual dimensions to re-create the illusion of an even wall. It is worth bearing in mind during those days only master-craftsmen had access to the metal-tipped tools that were necessary to manufacture such quality woodwork. The cost of the panelling alone would have exceeded the cost of the building. If you look to the right of the fireplace you will see the carpenter’s mark, possibly a Christian symbol of a pair of fish side by side. It is interesting to note that the fireplace is original to the building and close examination of the intricate carvings of grape vines may reveal a further clue to the origins of the House.
1750 - The Front Dining Room, Lounge & Fireplace
The lounge is finished with the same original French Oak Panelling and would have been removed from what was the Master Bedroom. In it you will see an impressive fireplace. Although it is not original to the building, it does date from Henry VIII time. The crest toward the right hand side is the flag of Catherine of Aragon; the Pomegranate, a sign of fertility, with a cut and a small Tudor rose emerging from it, symbolising the propagation of his line. On the left is a stylised etching of HR, for Henry Rex; or King Henry VIII. Just imagine him inscribing the symbol with the tip of his knife....
1840 - The Galleried Staircase
What is now the lobby was an enclosed courtyard, with the staircase and gallery being built circa 1840. The wall against which the Victorian Staircase has been installed has supporting beams made from a matching set of three ship timbers. We believe these were statements to the occupation and wealth of the ship-owner or merchant for whom the house was built.
2005 - Restoration & Refurbishment (and we haven’t finished yet!)
We encourage all our visitors to the White Vine House to feel free to take a wander throughout this remarkable building, or ask any of the staff for a tour.
And tell us if you have anything to add to our story…