For the community or developer?

Mike Eve (l) and Stuart Harland (r) outside the Methodist church on Church Square

Residents of Church Square were invited to a meeting on Saturday, July 17 following the announcement two weeks ago that the Methodist church will be leaving their current building later in the year.

The meeting, which took place inside the sun filled church, was led by local residents Mike Eve and Stuart Harland, both of whom have a successful track record in creating new uses for old buildings through their work in getting the Kino built on Lion Street.

The purpose of the meeting was to gauge possible future uses for the church. The meeting gave an opportunity for local residents to explore together what might happen to the church building in the future. The building is in a conservation area but it is not listed, so it could, subject to planning permission, be converted into residential accommodation.

There was a general agreement among the group that keeping the building open for a community use was a preferred option. A number of ideas were floated which might happen in the future, such as a relocation of the Rye Castle Museum from East Street or a multi-purpose arts venue for book readings, music and talks. Any future use for the building would be subject to the national Methodist church and national custodian trustee policies and practice.

The proposed relocation of the museum was the most discussed potential use. While the challenges in doing so would be significant, a key benefit would be to bring together the two parts of the museum for the first time which, with the Gun Garden, would create an exciting historic quarter at this popular visitor spot. There may also be the possibility of combining this with the town model to create a “heritage hub”.

Stuart and Mike stressed that work needed to be done to consider all the ideas floated at the meeting and any other thoughts from those living closest to the church. With regard to the specific proposal that the East Street part of the museum be moved to the church building, Stuart and Mike hoped the museum association directors would actively pursue the proposal in detail and that they would be ready to assist, if the association directors thought it necessary.

The attendees also listened to a touching speech from Marilyn Martin, who has been attending Methodist services at the church since she was a baby. She spoke on behalf of the congregation by saying that their preferred option would be that the building would remain in community use.

While the final service in the building will take place on the last Sunday in September, Marilyn stressed that services will continue, as they have since 1756, and will take place at St Mary’s Centre beginning on the first Sunday in October.

If you would like to get involved in exploring future potential uses for the building for community use, please email Stuart Harland ( or Mike Eve ( to be kept up to date and invited to any subsequent meetings.

Image Credits: Kevin McCarthy .


  1. An interesting report. As a Trustee of the Heritage Centre I would applaud any initiative to draw together the heritage assets of Rye. At a time when resources and volunteers are in short supply, it would make a lot of sense to create a “super” Community Interest Organisation (CIO) to cover all the Rye Heritage assets including of course the Landgate. Step forward Baldrick? Time for a cunning plan?

  2. An interesting suggestion to create a heritage hub in the old church, the new centre has only been open a week at what cost? at present it’s in a relatively new building, moving to an older building with higher maintenance costs doesn’t sound like good business sense.
    Logistically it’s a nightmare, a narrow approach road is the only delivery route which also has a heavy footfall and listed building that are not going to appreciate the extra traffic.
    A museum seems a much better proposition in my humble opinion but one thing is for sure it doesn’t want to be left to become a derelict eyesore and an open invitation to vandalism.

  3. A lovely building; it would be a fabulous ‘heritage centre’ linking with the Ypres Castle and the ‘gun gardens’, oh and not forgetting a visit to the fabulous and historic ‘Wipers Inn’.

    I can’t see any value in moving the town model after all the hard work to re-open in the current location: it is already located in another tourist hotspot on the Strand.

  4. I agree Phil. I think it would be a backwards step to relocate the town model. The Heritage Centre is in a prime location to “catch” passing tourists who are in that area looking at the many interesting shops ,boats, cafes etc.. located there. We must have something at the quayside for tourists and I think the Heritage Centre provides that little extra something for them.

  5. The Kino Cinema was the best thing to happen to Rye in years. The design is architecturally beautiful and sympathetic to its structure, former use and surroundings. I very much hope that this important building goes the same way.
    Please don’t let happen what has happened to the Granary, when it gets in the hands of greedy, aesthetically blind property developers.

  6. The granary is looking better than it has for years unless you think black and purple is in keeping with Rye, the yellow bricks are looking good, it remains to be seen what the building will look like in the end but that’s very much down to the what was passed by the planning office.

    • Its not what they have done to the exterior, its the interior.
      They wanted to put 9 pokey apartments in there – which I’m pleased to say got turned down.
      I have been inside and seen the 7 unimaginative squashed dark and bland apartments which will sell for high prices, they’ve ruined the space completely and are just converting it for profit!
      I’m also pleased that someone is restoring it, but its so sad that such a beautiful and architecturally important building for Rye has lost all its former glory 🙁

  7. A good idea Peter but where to put it?
    NIMBY would be the cry from far and wide, noisy revellers making their way home, not near any dangerous junctions, the problems would be endless.
    Somewhere like the building in the market would be ideal, near the transport hub, plenty of parking and away from most of the housing.
    Mmmm probably not.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here