From 1562 Rye gave shelter to large numbers of Huguenots fleeing from persecution in France and in 1582 there were over 1500 out of a population of about 3500, living in the town. For a time they held their own services in the church but by the end of the century, they attended the ordinary services. In 1685 a further 50 Huguenot families arrived after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Some of the Huguenots’ descendants worship in the church to this day.The famous “Quarter Boys” church clock was made in 1562 by the Huguenot Lewys Billiard who was paid £30 for his work. It is one of the oldest functioning turret clocks in the country.
Jeake’s House in Rye originally belonged to the Jeake family. Of Huguenot origin, the family’s Rye resident was a late 16th-century merchant, William Jeaque (a possible corruption of Jacques). William’s son Henry set up a bakery in the High Street. and his grandson, Samuel Jeake junior, made his living as a wool merchant using Jeake House to store his wool.
Historian Jo Kirkham has produced a map of a Huguenot walk in Rye highlighting locations of special interest. The Huguenot Walking Map costs £1 and can be obtained from the East Street Museum in Rye or via their email firstname.lastname@example.org