THE HISTORIC beacon tower at Burton Dassett Hills has been restored to its former glory.
The 15th century tower is one of only two historical monuments found in Warwickshire – the other being Chesterton Windmill – and since 1952 has been a Grade II listed building.
The nine month project – which was delayed after bats were found to be hibernating inside the domed roof – has seen the tower restored as sympathetically as possible to its original state to preserve it for future generations.
Martin Lewis, service manager on the project, said: “A lot of time and care has been taken throughout the project to restore the beacon tower as sympathetically as possible back to its original state.
“This has included fixing erosion on the south east side of the tower from long-term wind impact, repairing cracks and removing unstable bulges in the walls, to replacing non-breathable mortar with a new mortar that is more appropriate and also more in keeping with the colour and texture of the stone.
“The team have also worked incredibly hard to restore the domed roof of the tower, applying a new limed-based render capping to the dome and ensuring it is watertight. The entranceway to the tower has been filled in with stone to protect its interior, however a gap has been purposely left above the doorway lintel so that bats can continue to roost inside the tower for years to come.
“We are delighted this project is finally complete, and it has been a great moment to remove the scaffolding and fencing from the site so that the general public can once again enjoy this wonderful piece of Warwickshire’s history.”
The tower was likely built by Lord of the Manor Sir Edward Belknap in the late 15th century, and there are three main theories as to its original use – a beacon to pass important fire signals to other beacons in the surrounding area; a windmill, tower mill, or look-out tower; or a warrener’s lodge, the home of a man who protected the local rabbit population from poachers, as rabbits were valuable in medieval times for their meat and fur.
Warwickshire County Council environment and culture spokeswoman Coun Heather Timms, said: “The tower is a small but important part of Warwickshire’s history, and a great focal point to educate and inform visitors about the surrounding 100-acre site, which has been a country park since 1971 and includes ironstone quarry remains from the late 19th century and a nearby 12th century All Saints Church.
“As warmer weather is fast approaching, now is a great time to visit the Burton Dassett Hills to see the beacon tower restored to its former glory, and with fantastic views across Stratfor district it will continue to stand tall to be enjoyed by the people of Warwickshire for now and future generations.”
Visit www.countryparks.warwickshire.gov.uk/burtondassett for more information about Burton Dassett Hills County Park.