Movement on the Landgate


Since December 2014, two and a half years ago, when a former  Town Councillor revealed that Rother District Council (RDC) was letting the town’s historic Landgate rot into a ruin, Rye News and many of its readers have been pressing for action on the medieval archway’s future – particularly as it is the main entrance into the High Street.

The excuse from the RDC for lack of progress has been that their staff who deal with this have also been dealing with the fallout from the Camber drownings last summer and that this has had to take priority.

The Freedom of Information request in 2014 revealed the RDC had done virtually nothing since the 2011-2012 accounts to maintain the medieval Landgate gateway, built in 1329, which is the only surviving gateway from the town’s defences.

Since then Rother has cleared the gateway of tonnes of bird droppings so a report could be safely done on its condition before a second report was carried out to determine what action was needed – and how this might be achieved.

Some weeks ago, our RDC councillor, Lord Ampthill promised to press for, at the very least, a timetable for release of that surveyor’s report and recommendations of action to be taken. But in the meantime no work at all has been done on the Landgate apart from removing the bird droppings – and nothing was done to prevent more damage.

But Rother is now finally taking action , and in a letter to Rye Town Council (and, therefore by definition, now in the public domain) Brenda Mason, Service Manager Community and Economy, has explained Rother’s intended next actions. In her letter, she states the following,

“John Bailey (of Thomas Ford Architects, who undertook the survey – Ed.) has been looking into the prospect of funding from Historic England (HE) and we are now actively pursuing this funding route.

“From this we are now developing a possible two phase approach, subject to the proper approvals:

“1. If a HE funding bid is successful, we use the funds, assisted by an RDC contribution, to undertake repair works, including pigeon-proofing, then

2. Seek to lease the repaired asset to the Town Council or another Rye organisation to take forward the future ownership and re-use of the building assisted by the prospect of Heritage Lottery funding. This in turn might lead to full transfer of the asset freehold if the development bid were to succeed.

When we have heard back from John on HE funding and any implications we should be in a position to finalise the Landgate Vision document and share it with the Town Council and local heritage partners. This in turn can lead to further discussions and hopefully agreement on the way forward . . . I would hope to be in a position to do this by June or July.”

So at last the town is seeing some progress and, while there is a limit to the amount that can be done by Rye Town Council before the Landgate Vision document is produced, it now has a month or two to digest the implications of this, and decide on possible ways forward regarding future ownership, use and maintenance.

Photo: John Minter

Image Credits: Rye News library .

Previous articleIcklesham goes down fighting
Next articleAll change at the roundabout


  1. Has anyone in the Town Council spoken to the Winchelsea Corporation about the recently completed restoration of the historic Pipewell Gate? Their attempts to gain Heritage Lottery Funds fell on deaf ears (much as the 2011 Fletcher in Rye requests re. the Lion Street site) so it was down to the Corporation and the residents …..
    Well, if little Winchelsea can manage a restoration project why can’t Rye? So, come on Ryers, forget the petty politics of RDC – which Winchelsea seemed happy to do – and get behind your town and work to improve the failing infrastructure. For far too long, it seems the attitude has been ‘it’s someone else’s problem’. No it isn’t: Rye belongs to its residents!
    For instance, what happened to the ‘Friends of Landgate’ idea of a few years ago? For starters, each of the ancient stones could be ‘adopted’ with such donations pooled into a Restoration Fund …….
    You’ve just re-elected Jonathan Breeds as Mayor: what better legacy than to kick-start the Friends of Landgate scheme?

  2. Perhaps the town council could lease it in order to sell tickets for parking in the High Street and sort out that daily issue at the same time? Just a thought…

  3. I assume that all Councillors, and the RDC Officials involved, have already worked-out exactly how, in the event of our Landgate Arch needing major work to be done, which in turn could STOP ALL VEHICULAR AND PERSONAL USE OF THE ROADWAY BENEATH IT, all those vehicles would be ABLE to enter & leave our town centre ??!!

    Conduit Hill is impassable as a through roadway for all vehicles, which leaves Market Road, The Mint, & Mermaid Street as the only access points.
    Entering and leaving through those would be impossible !!
    Another one-way system ? How ?
    Don’t believe me ? Study our road map !!!

  4. Three things: 1. In the past, properties in the care of English Heritage, who had their own Friends were better maintained. EH managers had to include the sites’ Friends. 2. Lewes Castle sells steps leading up to The Keep shell. We have a step and plan to purchase two more. Names with dates are the general theme. 3. The British Library have a sponsor a book. Donations vary according to the type of book and what is needed. Adopting a stone is a great idea! There can be a plaque with the names of those who have sponsored a stone. Landgate is important to both Rye and the nation. We would certainly support a Friends of Langate.

  5. The high street should be pedestrianised, allow traffic to use it like Ashford, drop off points only in designated area,with deliveries only up to 9am in morning, and after 4pm in the afternoon, this is the only way forward,to save this dying high street.

  6. Landgate is a significant historical structure. A restored Landgate will not only enhance the wow factor (my own first reaction on seeing it, reminding me of the gates that survive in Cognac, near the distilleries), but will ensure continued public safety: imagine a decaying structure becoming a dangerous one.

    One thing that should also be considered is lighting the Landgate at night. The lamps currently embedded in the footways have never been lit, as far as I am aware, in the past 5 years, not even during the bonfire procession. That’s a pity because it will look magnificent. Many public buildings in Whitehall are now lit by energy efficient LED units and, maybe, a resurrected Friends of Landgate could help with this. I’ll join. What a fantastic opportunity awaits us!

  7. Has anyone ever approached or given thought to involving the Landmark Trust to preserve the Landgate and give it a purpose for the future? It’s just the sort of quirky historic structure they take on and provide a longterm sustainable future for …


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here