Love the Landgate

....dark and forbidding....

Have you actually looked at the Landgate recently? I mean properly looked, not just glanced up and sighed or fallen over the steps covered with pigeon droppings. It is a more than sorry sight. The weeds at the top are flowering vigorously and the pigeons are cooing over their young – and making  more mess. The stones look as though they are coming loose and the mortar is falling out.

The Landgate damage

My family came over from Antigua in the last couple of weeks and could not believe the awful state it is in. They could not understand why no collection of local people had made it their business to chivvy, cajole or be downright aggressive in their approaches to any person, body or organisation who might have an interest in saving it.

In their view, and mine, what should provide a spectacular entrance to Rye Town is a sad, depressing eyesore. It is a condemnation of everything that leads to interested parties finding ways to avoid their obligations and the apathy that comes when energetic people have tried too long to make things happen.

Now, Antigua, an island in the Caribbean, is a poor country, very poor, in fact and a lot of their income comes from tourism, as it does locally, yet they manage to find enough money to keep the wonderful buildings in, for example, English Harbour up together. They do this through a combination of voluntary contributions, commercial support and government monies. The work is carried out by a mixture of paid staff and volunteers. They are led by someone who refuses to take no for an answer and has an in depth knowledge of the history, culture and archaeology of his native country. Perhaps we have too much history and too many historic structures in East Sussex.

I have now lived in Rye for five years, have read the reports in local newspapers, have watched the deterioration continue. I am told there is a support group, but I don’t seem to have heard their voices recently. I know that our local councils are cash strapped and struggling to meet their obligations, but is there no way of saving this wonderful and historic structure except by blasting it with water jets and continuing to hope it may become so decrepit it can be demolished ? Readers, tell me I am wrong.

Photos : Rye News Library


  1. I share Gillian’s concern and sadness. We have been here three and a half years, and I made enquiries and got the same information. I think the residents must become more involved, because otherwise we will lose this unique landmark. Action group where are you? Rye News, can you flag this up please

  2. I totally endorse all of the above. Lets stop worrying about what may or may not be built in the future but put our efforts into caring for what we have already, in particular this wonderful building that should be loved and cared for. We should be ashamed or ourselves watching the Landgate fall into disrepair before our very eyes. Come on Rye, lets pull together to raise funds for this iconic landmark before it falls down around our ears.

  3. Who is responsible for maintaining this monument the state is appalling clock not working masonry bad condition tree growing out of roof area? If the De La War needs anything it is done immediately. Does anybody have any sense of responsibility or pride for Rye

  4. I have been an annual visitor to Rye for five decades, photographing the sights every time. The early pictures of the Landgate show a proud building, clearly a noble entrance to the ancient town. The ones from last year are just sad. I would happily contribute to a fund to save this marvelous structure. Clearly, government isn’t going to do so. It will have to be a local initiative.

  5. Has anyone found out who is responsible for its upkeep? I’d happily help drive any fundraising initiatives. It’s criminal that Landgate is being allowed to fade away.

    Rye’s residents need to make some effort to crawl out of the lethargic fug that seems to have gripped the town and start to make Rye look more polished, dynamic and cared-for – not just quaint. It’s such a wonderful place…

  6. I am sure that Rye Council are talking a great deal about this, just as they talk a great deal about everything else. They will carry on talking until the gate collapses. Then I am sure they will talk a great deal about how dreadful it was that it was allowed to collapse.

  7. How much would it cost to clean, maintain and preserve? Does anyone know? has a surveyor (or worth) been consulted. This is (allegedly) a grade I listed building….. there must be grants available? I’ve seen crowdfunding success stories for less worth projects than this.

    The fact that this has been allowed to decline into such a state of utter neglect clearly shows the lack of intuitive or conviction from Council and Action Group (surely an oxymoron). It’s a historic gem and a resource!

    Diana has hit the nail on the head, if there were a scratch on the blessed staircase of the De-le-warr then we would have cuts in public services to pay for painstaking restoration at almost any cost.

    Wake up Rye council and do something. Please do something and prove you can leave a legacy worth crowing over. If you’re unable to rise to the occasion then by all means admit that the towel is thrown in and at least leave it to others with more ability and conviction. The bonfire boys would do a better job in raising awareness and much needed ca$h.

    Mary, couldn’t agree more. Folk would contribute to a fund to restore and preserve. Just be mindful circumvent a body that might be tempted to use funds elsewhere….. like the council(?)

    Dear Council here’s an idea to get you started. why not actually employ a traffic warden/parking attendant and start to raise much need council funds by enforcing parking restrictions and fees? Two birds, one stone……. (sorry not allowed to vent spleen about town parking on this thread……)

  8. Rye Conservation Society has been pursuing this issue for a considerable time. The Landgate is owned by Rother District Council, which has commissioned a very detailed condition report (conducted, I might add, at some risk to the assessor!). This suggests that it is not in imminent danger. The cost of repairs is substantial and Rother have claimed they do not currently have the resources. RCS has suggested that English Heritage might contribute, but there is an issue about justification for spending a great deal of money. If the building could be re-used things might be different, but suggestions that it could somehow be converted into usable space such as a holiday let are stymied by the inability to provide safe access or utilities such as drainage. One possible use would be as a town wireless hub.

    The clock won’t work until it’s safe enough to get to it – which at present it is not.

    RCS considers that the best option is stabilisation and then maintenance as a ruin. It has also suggested provision of a roof, which would protect the interior and prevent the current flock of pigeons from filling it once again with ordure.

    RCS has regularly prodded RDC for a progress report; perhaps if individuals do likewise then something may happen, but the wheels of councils grind exceedingly slow!

  9. In answer to the article LOVE THE LANDGATE I too have been looking at its awful state. not only weeds but buddleia which any gardener knows the roots destroy foundations in its wake to grow. (a sad and depressing site) perhaps they should take a look at the gate in winchelsea (pipe well) and see what an excellent job of restoration done there, another sad and depressing eyesore is the town hall garden and pump in wish ward. I took the work on 4 years ago I dug out all the rubbish and planted with shrubs and perennials in January this year the town hall took back position , and taken on another town steward to do the work. OR NOT. Many people have complained but sadly its fallen on deaf ears , they are both in the conservation area so what has the conservation society done about it , (NOTHING) My passion is gardening and I am a gardener, for 3 years I was an ACTIVE member of Rye in bloom under Mrs Lorna Hall, and was the town judge for 2 years. I was also the founder member of the Rye garden safari and organiser for 15 years raising money for ST Michaels Hospice. I feel very sad when individuals take over and let it go.


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