Every scaffold tells a story


I have always found building works fascinating. In the City of London, for example, the contractors usually leave a peep-hole in the fencing around a building site and people like me stop to watch what’s going on – a demolition job with a ball and chain swinging, or a hole deep into the ground uncovering part of Roman London perhaps.

The Old Monastery under wraps

Closer to home, there’s scaffolding around the Old Monastery on Conduit Hill, which is having a roof-lift. Not much of a story there at the moment perhaps, but in Church Square the south side of St Mary’s (Rye’s Norman parish church) is also undergoing maintenance. I asked John Gurney, church surveyor, what was going on. “It’s the pigeons,” he replied, “we’re blocking up the holes under the eves to keep the pigeons out.” The work has evidently come to a stop, because the scaffolders were due to have dismantled and re-erected on the north side of the church by now.

Now, the pigeons have been church attenders for quite a while. It’s true they cause a mess, but they are canny birds and in that sense to be admired. I recall in the evenings they would sit patiently on the screen by the Clare Chapel, waiting for the door to be opened.

Seizing their moment, they would launch out into the open air to find their next meal. I don’t think they had a quarrel with Sylvester, the cat of blessed memory. He had a live and let live sort of philosophy.

Still, “Nature’s all right in its place”, as my neighbour says about the seagulls, “and they don’t belong on my chimney stack.” Well, seagulls are something else and raise all sorts of emotions in Rye, so I won’t pursue the analogy any further. (Hush psst! We like our seagulls – don’t we ?).

Image Credits: Kenneth Bird .

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  1. More evidence of the war against birds which seems to be prevalent in the centre of Rye. If it’s not pigeons it’s gulls which are the subject of complaint. Some householders are even known to clear the nests of martins and swallows – a devastating greeting after flying thousands of miles to return to us. Speaking as one who has pigeons nesting outside the bedroom window in the top of a drainpipe I find it sad that we cannot leave these pretty birds alone.


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