Progress on repairing the Landgate (Rye’s historic arch, an ancient monument over the main entrance to the High Street) and ensuring it is better looked after in future , has been made – but do not expect immediate action.
Interested parties were invited by Mayor Bernadine Fiddimore to attend a meeting at Rye Town Hall on Wednesday, December 9, to discuss the deteriorating state of the Landgate in the absence of adequate maintenance by Rother District Council (RDC), owners of the building.
There is considerable anger and frustration in the town that this Ancient Monument and heritage asset has been too long neglected.
Brenda Mason, RDC’s service manager, referred to the recent Inspection Report by Thomas Ford & Partners as forming part of the council’s asset management review process. Acknowledging that some repair is urgently needed, the council is seeking community partnership in the long term conservation management of the archway, a 14th century Grade I listed building built, with a grant from Edward III, in 1329 to defend the town.
It was generally agreed to be unlikely that any revenue-generating use could be found for the arch, and Rye Conservation Society’s proposal was broadly accepted that the structure be conserved as a managed ruin with a new restored roof, with special care being given to renovation of the clock.
The meeting ended on a positive note, with the indication that the Town Council and other local groups would consider raising part of the restoration finance, but only if the exact commitment is first established. RDC is expected now to provide a costed schedule for maintenance as a consolidated ruin.
[Editor’s note: RDC is expected to make some contribution to the cost, though it has been badly hit by central government cuts to the money given to local government.
However any grant from a Lottery fund will expect some local fund-raising. Also, as recent experience has showed with improvements to the Ypres Castle Museum, the whole process of fund raising, getting a grant and doing the work may be slow – and, in the meantime, the Landgate may continue to rot.
Any disruption caused to traffic by repair work however may not be immediate therefore unless the Landgate collapses completely – but it has been there for nearly 700 years.]
Photo: Kenneth Bird