Silence of the Landgate


The Landgate still stands, silent and unloved, over East Cliff to the North East corner of Rye.

Anyway, that’s my personal opinion of progress since I first wrote about it in Rye News (Love the Landgate) a year ago. My Antigua-based family, who started the whole thing off by their shock at seeing its state of repair, in a supposedly prosperous country such as Great Britain, are due to visit. There is no progress to report on the actual structure. There is however lots of hot air and wringing of hands in the small Friends of the Landgate (of which I am one of the founder members, could have done better), East Sussex County Council (the road underneath, traffic still damaging structure) Rother District Council (owners of the building, of which they would like to “divest” themselves) Rye Conservation Society (slow on the uptake) and remarkably little result to the state of the building’s purportedly urgent repairs (emergency? What emergency?)

Of course, real life has intervened, as it does. The Friends of the Landgate have good support, but the three founders are busy people and I am none too tolerant of endless delays and statements that meetings will be held that never happen. However, I haven’t organised any talks or events about the building either, so who am I to criticise?

East Sussex County Council (ESCC) is in a horrendous financial position, so can hardly be expected to consider an ancient and rare example of a 14th-century building. I do know it can’t be compared to swingeing cuts to social care and children’s services.

Rother District Council is rumoured to have had a mass exodus of staff, including the person who had a day-to-day responsibility for the Landgate and was a real help while in post. It is struggling like ESCC with a large financial deficit. There is someone now responsible again for the structure, but I am informed by one of Rye Town Council councillors that this person has too much to do to provide a date for attending a meeting. Quite possibly so.

The Museum has always made it absolutely clear that they have enough to do with their listed buildings. I am sure this is absolutely correct and very wise.

Rye Conservation Society seems to have gone off the boil about the Landgate, but as I am not very successful in getting to meetings, I may very well be incorrect. Certainly, their contribution in the early stages of this last year was helpful and interesting, and my observation would be that, while really believing that stabilisation of it as a ruin is the best option, were prepared to at least think about other ideas.

This article is not balanced, carefully considered, historically accurate, I have made no attempt to provide information on the work going on in the background. I want action in the foreground. As this has been going on for more years than I like to think of, I imagine that it isn’t likely.

Photo: Gillian Roder

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