Two fire appliances rushed up Rye Hill in the early hours of Monday morning (28 January) to fight a fire at Rye Cemetery.
The Chapel of Rest was burning well by the time they arrived and despite their efforts they were unable to save the roof. Extra water was obtained from a hydrant adjacent to the famous Top of the Hill pub & Restaurant, almost a quarter mile away. Rye firemen fought the blaze through the night, saving the walls of the building, which housed lawn mowers and other gardening tools.
It seems that the fire could have been caused by an arsonist setting fire to a pile of fly-tipped rubbish piled against the wall of the building. It is reminiscent of the fire which destroyed the Martyn Channon buildings in Rye Cattle Market two years ago, a rubbish bin was set on fire and the flames reached up under the eaves and set the roof ablaze.
After the fire-fighters had put out the fire a police ‘crime scene’ was established. Fire Brigade and Police investigators moved in.
Although the preliminary reports are not conclusive there is certainly an arsonist on the loose. There have been three instances of minor damage in the Gibbets Marsh Car Park, where a waste paper bin and two hedges have been the target.
A potentially much more serious case was reported on Tilling Green when a highly inflammable liquid was poured through the letter box of a private house on Saturday 26 January. It may well be that the incidents are not connected.
A couple of years ago there was a similar spate of minor arson events culmunationg in the destruction of the Martyn Channon Country Store. Around the same time the Queen Adelaide public house was torched resulting in extensive damage to the interior of the building.
Two years before that there had been another spate of small fires set around the town and one serious case of lighted oily rags being put through a letter box in Rope Walk.
The police are asking the public to be vigilant and report any deposits of rubbish to the District Council for their immediate attention and any suspicions they have as to person or persons who may be setting these fires to the police.
So many times small acts of arson end in something much more serious and if it continues lives could be at risk
Rother District Council are responsible for the building which was built in 1864, the first stone being laid by the then Mayor of Rye, Edward Henry Sladen Banks on 7 September of that year.
The new Cemetery had been opened in 1855 to comply with government legislation which put an end to burials in Rye Churchyard by the end of that year.
The Chapel is part of Rye’s heritage. It is to be hoped Rother had the building adequately insured and the roof is replaced at an early date.
“Rye’s Own” Supplement February 2007
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