392 THE SUSSEX COAST
drels with foliage and a head caricature. Under≠neath are tunnel-vaulted stone cellars supported by ribs, but by far the most interesting feature is a fresco in imitation of tapestry that covers the whole of one wall and dates, probably with the rest of the house, from the reign of Edward VI. The groundwork is of conventional foliage, with numerous roses and a pomegranate or two, strange animals and birds are interspersed and inscriptions running diagonally across read "soli deo honor" Above is a frieze with coats of arms, and little nude figures hold scrolls with the Magnificat in Tyndale's version, 1525, slightly varied. In the steep and narrow lane called Mermaid Street is the famous Mermaid Inn, surrounding a little court, a Tudor building, which is framed of very massive timbers and has some linen panelling. One fireplace with a long oak beam is remarkable for its great width, others are of stone and display the conventional Tudor rose within diamonds and circles.
When these and many other Tudor timber-and-plaster buildings were comparatively new, there was born at Rye in 1579 John Fletcher, whose father, the rector, was afterwards Bishop of London, but he married a second wife, a thing the Virgin Queen could not and would not tolerate, and he was accordingly suspended. Fletcher's success as a dramatist, his name for ever closely associated with that of Francis Beaumont, was very great, though it has little to do with Rye. The following passage however from The Faithful Shepherdess slightly suggests the country just north of the townó
"Here be woods as green As any, air likewise as fresh and sweet As where smooth Zephyrus plays on the fleet