Higher safety rail for tower

The height of the safety rail at the top of St Mary’s Church tower, Rye, is to be raised to about 42in (107cm). The work – which was planned prior to an incident at Wells Cathedral last year in which a woman fell 20ft and became trapped in a void between two walls in the bell tower – will be part funded by the Friends of St Mary’s, members were told at the annual meeting on April 24.
Planning for the project is now well under way. Planning permission is needed from the Chichester Diocese.  The work will involve stone repairs and the fitting of a stainless rail all round. About 15,000 to 20,00 visitors (adults, students and children) climb St Mary’s tower each year to see the town and surrounding countryside.

The Friends have some 150 members and support the fabric of the ancient building. Over the years the members have not only raised funds to support the parochial church council, but have used the skills of the officers to survey, plan and manage maintenance projects. In recent years, work has included refurbishment of the organ, the west window and the ancient clock mechanism. In addition, the Friends have funded new bell pulls and an upgraded sound system.

The AGM was attended by 35 members and enabled the re-election of the committee: secretary, Gill Harvey; treasurer, Dick Kent; surveys and projects, John Gurney; ex-officio the rector and wardens, and member Richard Bower. I am the chairman.

A review of the finances revealed that expenditure and income was low in 2014, as there were no major new projects. There was some £20,000 invested for future projects, of which about half was earmarked for work already being planned. This includes the safety rails.

After the AGM, Dr Diana Matthews, pictured below and visiting from Reading, gave an illustrated talk on “Christian Art from Rome to Rembrandt”. This was an ambitious topic, which she handled expertly, covering a brief history of Christianity with key developments in art and sculpture.


Membership of the Friends is open to all. Please contact Gill Harvey, May Cottage, Jarrett’s Close, Rye, TN31 7PZ. More information about the Friends can be found on Facebook.

Photos: Tony Nunn (tower) and Anthony Kimber

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