Sunday, 17 April 2011


Strolling through our Priory Park on Friday, I noticed that the neat lollipop-style bay trees were not looking too healthy any more. Of seven trees, several now have dead, brown leaves and at least one is denuded of its lower bark.

Stopping to chat to my park keeper friend who was carefully tending the herbaceous borders in Monks Walk, I just mentioned this and to my horror, he told me what has been happening.

Repeatedly on Wednesday and Saturday evenings, persons unknown have been yanking those trees out of the soil, lugging them over to the fountain pool at the centre of the Sunken Garden, and leaving them there in the water to drown!

What mindless evening pranks - those idiots responsible for this are thoroughly disrespectful to the trees, to all of us who visit the park and especially with this particular part of consecrated ground beside the old Priory. The whole set of baytrees was replaced last year, but it looks as if this new batch are destined for the tip too. And the cost to ratepayers? £100 each plus VAT. Go figure how much that costs.

Then we have 2 young lads who decided to light a fire in the woods, necessitating a callout by the Fire Brigade, because of the risk of burning peat. It turns out that these thoughtless visitors had travelled all the way from Orpington and London.

And to cap it all, there are so many people coming from all over, with picnic stuff and choosing to go to the more secluded areas like the stable hill - and what do they do with their rubbish? Precisely nothing. This is exactly what I had written about to the local newspaper a few years ago.

I hope they all get caught, named and shamed - and fined. Anyone else with a camera?

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

In the comfort of Reigate Priory - problem solved

Update March 2015 - the problem of Reigate Priory's leaking roof is solved and all is well.

Original post in 2011: While the spring sun shines and the cherry trees blossom beautifully, it is easy to forget the bitterly cold weather of three months ago, but not the damage that it did to roofs, gutters and roads across the country.
Sadly our town's magnificent historic Grade 1 listed building, home to Reigate Priory Junior School and Reigate Priory Museum, took a terrible blow from the snow. The museum is currently closed and the treasured artefacts have had to be temporarily rehoused to keep them safe. That means the museum collection would be inaccessible to the public for the foreseeable future. I do hope Surrey County Council will be able to get the Priory roof put right soon, and treat it as a priority to restore the museum collection to its rightful home in the centre of Reigate. After all, the items were donated by local residents for the good of the local community, and part of our heritage.
Exactly a century ago in 1911, our beloved Reigate Priory was a private country mansion which was often rented out for rich and famous tenants, and a popular choice for weekend house parties. On 28, 29 and 30th October of that year, it was the location for a vital three-day meeting of top Government and Admiralty figures. Here, Admiral Lord Fisher could advise and educate the new First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill about the wisdom of having a battleship fleet fueled by oil, rather than coal. As well as oil fueling greater speed for the ships, it was going to be a darned sight cheaper than solid fuel, and would save on personnel! What a practical decision was made here. Now, with a hundred years of hindsight it was not especially original as an idea, but still, such discussions required a suitable, comfortable environment where these decision makers could be sheltered from outside events and focus on the job at hand.
Reigate Priory's 19th century addition of the library area has long been a source of water leaks. Presumably because Winston Churchill described the meeting as being "in the comfort of Reigate Priory" in his book, The World Crisis, he was not inconvenienced by such unfortunate events here a century ago.