Gammel Rye Church is an example of how the status of a town is often reflected in its church. The first stone church from the 1100s was like other churches in the district and built from fieldstone. But during the Middle Ages, the standing of both town and church changed. Among other things because of the holy spring of St. Søren. Trade flourished from the 1400s until 1600. Rye was an important commercial centre and may have held the status of royal borough. In the 1400s, work started on a series of important construction projects, including two additional transepts in the church. Today, only four bays of this magnificent building remain.
Gammel Rye Kirke is close to the ancient Jutland road system called Hærvejen. This made the church an obvious assembly point for settling important matters. The most famous event at the site was the assembly on 4 July 1534 of the Jutlandic members of the Council of the Realm to elect a new king. This mixed Catholic and Protestant council argued fiercely while the nobility waited impatiently outside the church door. Finally, the nobles forced their way into the church and got Duke Christian in by a coup. Duke Christian became King Christian III of Denmark. He was a protestant and the Rye Assembly is regarded as marking the Pope's loss of Denmark and the country's progression from the Middle Ages.