Landgate dilapidation shock

The living and the dead: pigeons atop Landgate's tower

Lord Ampthill who represents Rye on the Rother District Council (RDC),  established in 1974, has told the Town Council of his shock at the state of the Landgate after a recent visit.
“Nothing prepares the visitor,” he said “for the shock of the experience – the filth, the toxic fumes, the dilapidation – but it was possible to understand why this problem is taking so long to resolve.
“The structure could, and should, have been made secure many decades ago (long before Rother came on the scene) with an unobtrusive lead roof. Instead useless netting flaps in the breeze and there is a mountain to climb – both in terms of work and fundraising.”
He went on to say that essential works are currently being costed “for which funding is in place which can be completed before the onset of winter”. He added: “These will not require scaffolding or road closures.”
The work will include:

  • Removing the timber flagpole and checking the condition of the modern flagpole
  • Clearing bird detritus from the towers and clock housing
  • Securing the clock and electric housing
  • Disconnecting the uplighters
  • Removing accessible vegetation from the parapets
  • Replacing the netting and securing the area from further infestation
  • Replacing the timber ladders
  • Fixing safe access points for future maintenance.

Cllr Bernardine Fiddimore commented that it was not unusual for pigeons to get caught up in the netting (see photo above) and members of the public find this upsetting.
Lord Ampthill went on to say: “A forthcoming meeting of the Action Group partners will consider this programme and the costs involved, adapt if necessary and give instructions to proceed through Rother’s Economic Development Manager.
“Then comes the the strategic thinking and long term planning,” he added. “Do we wish to see a managed ruin; or will we work to afford a living building which can be used and explored by all?”
(Source: Rye Town Council Minutes)

Photo : Rye News Library


  1. Disconnect the uplighters? Why? At least make the thing look interesting from the outside. In Rye News in August 2016 an interview with Paul Osborne had this (and presumably nothing happened):
    Minter: Before we leave this subject, what about the flood lights that haven’t worked for years. Why not? The Landgate is a tourist attraction in a tourist town its absurd not to have these lights working.
    Osborne: I was there when these were installed and first switched on. I agree they should be working and I will look into it. You must remember that we have limited staff and resources and it is not possible to attend to everything.
    [Note:This comment has been very slightly altered to meet our guidelines]

  2. This news is a complete volte face from Lord Ampthill.
    At last year’s Town Meeting he was specifically asked about the deterioration of this Grade 1 Listed Building in the care of Rother.
    His response was two-fold (I paraphrase):-
    1. The Landgate has survived for 600 years so a few more won’t make a difference.
    2. Vistors to Rye don’t come to see the Landgate.

    • I’m glad that Lord Ampthill has had a long overdue epiphany as his previous view, as quoted, beggars belief. Visitors to Rye may not come to see the Landgate, but I would bet that most go away with a clear memory of this iconic structure.
      As important is the affection that residents and ex-residents have for it. I have lived in many other places during my life, but it is only when my little framed drawing of Landgate Tower is up on my wall that I feel like I have made the place my home.

  3. Re the Landgate.
    Lord Ampthill is correct in that visitors do not come to Rye to see the Landgate. This particular visitor travelled from Norfolk to visit friends. However, whilst wandering in your beautiful town, it is almost impossible to miss the Landgate. Your town is favoured with a unique feature. What a wonderful building. No, I do not have to pay your local taxes – I am busy supporting my own area, but if funds could be found to give this structure some TLC, maybe it would stand for another 600 years. Support The Landgate!

  4. The floodlighting can be renewed using LED lights as long as the electricity supply is secure. As this is also required for the clock it must form part of the repairs specification.
    However it remains a mystery as to what useful purpose can be created within a limited space without enormous expense – let alone the almost impossible task of doing anything to a scheduled ancient monument that would pass muster with English Heritage.


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